China to invest billions on improving Internet speeds

China is set to invest $182 billion (£117 billion) to improve the country’s Internet speeds by 2017, as the national government looks to bolster its service industry.

The State Council has earmarked an investment of 430 billion yuan ($69.3 billion) for later this year, with an additional 700 billion yuan ($112.8 billion) to be spent over the next two years, Reuters reports.

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The government aims to improve the country’s online infrastructure, which includes the development of 4G mobile networks and high speed fibre optic broadband. Although China’s digital industries are developing rapidly, the country is still lagging behind many others with regard to its network technology.

According to Akamai’s State of the Internet report for 2014, the Asian country is ranked 82nd in the world for its Internet speed, placing it behind Malaysia, Taiwan and Thailand. It is believed that this is one of the key reasons for a slowdown in economic growth, as it inhibits a shift away from manufacturing and towards digital industries.

In particular, China wants to focus on advances in space travel, e-commerce, green energy and bioengineering, with the government hoping to have made significant headway in these areas by 2025.

Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang already has the support of some of the country’s largest wireless carriers in his pursuit of a more service-orientated economy. China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom have all pledged to cut prices and improve data speeds to encourage customers to adopt 4G connectivity.

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Although China now boasts the second largest economy in the world, its government is well aware that in order for this growth to continue it must be able to embrace the latest digital technologies, which means significant improvements to its online infrastructure are required.