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China is becoming one of the world’s fastest growing players on the global information and communications technology market.
As well as being increasingly important exporters, the Chinese spent $52 billion on communications equipment and services in 2005. The country’s Internet users have risen in number from 14,000 in 1994 to 111 million in 2005. In Russia, Internet users rose from 80,000 to 2.9 million during the same period.Of China’s 1.3 billion inhabitants, almost 400 million subscribed to a mobile phone in 2005. That may be a low proportion of the whole population, but is more than the US, where there are 213 million subscribers.Nevertheless, China’s market has some way to go to catch up with the OECD area, where mobile services now make up 40% of all telecommunication revenues.High-speed Internet connections continue to transform the IT market. Of the OECD’s 256 million Internet subscribers, 60% now have a broadband connection. The rise in broadband Internet access has led to a shift away from paying for voice to paying for data, which can be used to transport voice, with Skype being an obvious example.
The growth and development of the IT market is echoed in the trade of communication equipment, which now accounts for 2.2% of all trade in the OECD area. Future development is likely going to see closer integration of the broadcasting and telecommunications markets as more visual services are provided over digital telecommunications networks.OECD Observer No. 261 May 2007