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China still lagging far behind the rest of the world in internet technology

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July 17, 2012

China is still lagging far behind the rest of the world when it comes to internet technology, even if it does have the full backing of its government, according to the latest numbers from local content delivery agency ChinaCache.

The report reveals that the average connection speeds for each of the country’s provinces, including Shanghai and Beijing, are too slow when compared to most other Asian countries and Europe. As many businesses and home workers in the region will already attest to, despite China’s very ambitious plans to build rapid fibre optic networks, internet connection speeds are still frustratingly low.

Unsurprisingly, Shanghai and Beijing come top with average connection speeds of around 4.0 MBPS and 3.6 MBPS respectively. After this, average speeds drop-off a cliff. The Anhui province comes next with an average speed of less than 3 MBPS.

The bottom three regions, Shanxi, Guangxi and Xinjiang, which between them have a population of over 100 million people, all fail to top 1.5 MBPS, displaying the immense digital divide which still exists in China between the major cities and far-flung provinces.

Overall, content delivery firm Akamai’s most recent State of the Internet report for the first quarter of last year claimed that just 20 percent of the county has speeds of over 2 MBPS, placing it just 78th globally.

By comparison, it said that the United Kingdom has 91 percent of households above this basic minimum and ranked 12th. What can make matters worse for internet users in China is the additional delays, time-outs and general daily disruptions caused by the Great Firewall, or any censorship-bypassing VPN technology where they’ve been forced to install to visit specific banned sites.

The Chinese government did acknowledge the vital importance to the country's economy if it does have a strong internet infrastructure, and has pledged about 75 percent of a $340 billion infrastructure investment to broadband development, slated for 2013 and 2014.

It also added that by 2015, fixed broadband connections will exceed 370 million, adding the following in a recent human rights action plan: "Internet connection speeds for urban households will reach 20 MBPS, and for rural households, 4 MBPS. Fibre optic internet connections will cover about 200 million households. Additionally, China will build wireless broadband cities, and gradually spread internet connections and usage throughout rural areas.

Historically speaking, China’s vast and unforgiving terrain has kept broadband prices high and limited the expansion of internet infrastructure, but users hope that the situation will change going forward.

In the meantime, the best option for many companies, especially those with a strong B2C presence in China, will be to invest in a good content delivery service.

In other IT news

According to Verisign, the overall number of newly registered domain names on the web increased by over 7.5 million to stand at 233.1 million in the first quarter of 2012. Verisign also found that the internet address universe grew by about 11 percent year-on-year and 3.3 percent sequentially in the first quarter.

Verisign's own registry of .com and .net domains also increased slightly, at 2.5 percent sequentially and 8.1 percent year-over-year, to stand at a combined total of 116.7 million domains at the end of March 2012.

Verisign estimates in its latest Domain Name Industry Brief that about 88 percent of all registered .com and .net domains resolve to an active website. About 17 percent were one-page sites and 69 percent had multiple-page websites.

Country-code top-level domains (ccTLD) grew even faster, fueled in part by the fact that the company started gathering average statistics on domains in non-Latin scripts for the first time.

For its part, ICANN has approved about 30 such segments since it kicked off its IDN ccTLD fast-track program in 2009, and these registries contributed a little over 808,960 names to the first quarter total, Verisign added.

However, the overall vast majority of those domain names are likely to have been found in .??, the Russian Federation's wildly popular Cyrillic alternative to .ru, which currently reports more than 811,000 domain registrations.

The United Kingdom's own .co.uk registry was still the second-largest ccTLD after Germany's .de at the end of the quarter, with more than 10 million domains, according to the report.

In third place was the rapidly growing .tk space, which represents the tiny island nation of Tokelau and gives it domains away for free. As a result it's favoured by abusive web players.

In other IT news

A recent announcement by Oracle of its intention to acquire social media site Involver could be a sign of where the medium for business is headed. Or is it?

A post from Involver CEO Don Beck on the company’s blog places Oracle's proposed acquisition into perspective. “The proliferation of social media has changed the way that companies, organizations and consumers interact,” Beck suggests.

Oracle’s own announcement of this proposed acquisition signifies the importance that the database and software behemoth places in social media, not just for simple marketing, but for increasing brand loyalty, connecting with potential customers, and anticipating buyers’ needs.

The planned partnership between Oracle and Involver can be seen from another perspective as well. The alliance could combine Involver’s social media tools with the broader menu of Oracle cloud solutions, including more social options from previous acquisitions.

To be sure, Involver isn’t the first social media acquisition for Oracle, a company that is clearly attempting to increase social offerings as part of its online business services.

In May for example, the company announced the acquisition of social media company Virtue for $300 million, followed by another acquisition, this time of Collective Intellect, a firm specializing in social analytics.

Oracle isn’t the only online business software provider to be on a shopping spree for companies with social media capabilities. Salesforce.com recently announced the acquisition of Nova Scotia-based startup Go Instant, which allows people in different locations to easily browse Websites together.

Source: ChinaCache.

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