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The Web grows larger in China

by David Spring | 14.09.2012
China Internet User

A new technological development is set to transform dramatically the way internet access is distributed across China. Up until now, the country’s sheer size has been a major problem for coverage, and traditional internet structures are expensive to make. However, a scientific project funded by the government aims to overcome these limitations by merging all wireless signals together and transmitting them down a fibre-optic cable, before being broadcast through a radio antenna. This system is called Radio-over-Fibre.

The impact of this new internet infrastructure can be enormous. Only around half of the Chinese population currently have internet access, but Radio-over-Fibre has the power to transmit wireless signals throughout the land, from the inner cities to the most secluded villages in the provinces, and potentially allow the country’s entire population of 1.3 billion to have unlimited access to information in their homes.

The Chinese central government is notoriously strict as far as internet censorship is concerned, frequently cracking down on websites and content which it deems to be a threat to social order, or likely to encourage protests against the authorities. There have usually been ways around the blocking of websites or content, but the consequences of nationwide internet access for a population which is growing increasingly savvy in computer technology, can be totally unpredictable. The enlightenment of hundreds of millions of people just might be the cataclysmic event which could challenge the Chinese Communist Party’s authoritarian stronghold, and shift the global balance of power. We should be following this closely…