21st Century Business Herald, 12/28/11
According to industry sources, China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) submitted a network convergence expansion plan for 40 cities in early December. On top of the provincial capitals already included in the previous plan, the new plan includes Wuxi, Changzhou, Wenzhou, Zibo and Foshan, among other non-capital cities. A separate plan submitted by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) includes only provincial capitals, as many locations' broadcast operators still have misgivings about the competitive pressures from telecom operators after network convergence takes place. Therefore, few broadcasters were willing to register for the plan. In order to encourage local broadcasters, SARFT is currently devising a set of penalties for telecom operators that begin to develop IPTV services in areas not designated as trial areas.
The CEO of Sarft.net told journalists, "The final list of cities for the plan still needs to be coordinated between the State Council's Network Convergence Working Group and local broadcasters and telecom operators in order to reach final confirmation. The timeframe for this is not very clear. Before, some thought it would be in January 2012, however this will now more than likely be delayed by 3 months or more."
MIIT will be able to accelerate fiber optic broadband upgrades with the help of network convergence expansion. However, for SARFT, hope for rapid expansion into broadband services via cable TV networks has made very little headway. Over the past year, the city with the fastest uptake of cable broadband services was Shenzhen, with an increase of only 30,000 users.