|Issue:||Asia-Pacific I 2006|
|Topic:||Next generation information networks in China|
|Title:||Director, Network Information Centre|
|Organisation:||Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT)|
Qiao Guo is a Professor and the Director of Network Information Centre at the Beijing Institute of Technology in China. She is a senior member of the IEEE, the Chinese Electronic Association, the National Education & Development Network Committee and a member of APAN (Advanced Pacific Asia Network), of the Internet Society of China, of Information Security Committee of the China Information Association and of the National e-learning Cooperation Group. Mrs Guo is the Information Technology Expert for the Municipality of Beijing, an Information Technology Expert for the National Defence Department of China and the UN Consultant Expert for a Chinese NGO. Qiao Guo has been honoured for her work as an Outstanding Contributor by CERNET (Chinese Education and Research Network) in 2005. She was awarded the Second-class Science and Technology Prize of the Beijing Municipality in 2004 and given the Excellent Teacher award by Beijing Municipality in 1997 and the Outstanding Teacher by Beijing Institute of Technology in year 1996-1997. Mrs Guo holds one National Invention Patent, has published an academic book and more than 70 academic papers in the domestic/international academic conferences or journals.
One quarter of China’s population, more people than in the US, use mobile phones. Internet service there now exceeds fixed-line telephone service and IP earns more income than television. The Internet faces some severe security, quality of service and address availability problems. The NGI (Next Generation Internet) and NGN (Next Generation Network) should resolve them. China launched the CNGI network project to meet the challenge the NGI and NGN by building a network covering and linking its major cities.
During the 21st century, information networks have become increasingly important in our daily life One quarter of China’s population, more than the total population of the US, now use mobile phones. Mobile users exceed fixed-line telephone users in China. IP value-added services are growing. They accounted for 42 per cent of the long-distance connections in 2004 and 46 per cent in 2005. In fact, the number of IP phone calls exceeds the sum of mobile and fixed-line phone calls combined. Internet service now exceeds fixed-line telephone service in China with a record 1.03 hundred million netizens in June 2005. By 2003, 30.9 per cent of the mobile phones in China could be connected to Internet, while in the UK the number was only 9.3. Also, in other developed countries far fewer mobile phones are equipped with this function than in Oriental countries. According to statistics, P2P (peer-to-peer) applications occupy 72 per cent of the world bandwidth market, whereas the web and e-mail use only 9 per cent and 2 per cent respectively of the available capacity. Domestic market In China’s domestic market, the situation is similar, with P2P steadily increasing compared to the conventional main server model. The result is that IP business now consumes most of the communication backbone bandwidth. Fixed-line bandwidth availability increases at the rate of 20 per cent whereas the bandwidth of Internet backbone networks doubles and quadruples. Internet applications now hold a major share of the market. The Multi-musical Dial Ring Service provided by China Mobile already boasts 50 million subscribers, who pay a subscription fee of 5 Yuan per user per month, plus other fees when downloading. The income of the China Record Corporation through this service has surpassed, by far, all of its other services. Market share for online recreational activities has surpassed that of several traditional entertainment services. With the increase in both Internet bandwidth consumption, and its share of the market, its usage is now much higher than that for the total volume for television and its income is now greater than that from television programme service. However, some severe problems still exist within the IPv4 (Internet Protocol version 4) network due to security issues, QoS (quality of service) and the limited number of IPv4 addresses. In order to solve the problems, the NGI (Next Generation Internet) and NGN (Next Generation Network) were proposed. Actually, at present, there are no general definitions of NGI and NGN other than the commonly sought features – larger, faster, more secure, more convenient and more manageable. Some have defined it as a network that provides all services and supports broadband, good security, QoS and mobile access. In brief, this is the goal that nourishes our highest hopes for the information network. Great advantages should come from the merger of the NGI and the NGN. The question is: will it be the merger of two types of networks or a merger of all their services. Actually, there is a long way to go for both NGI and NGN as they both have high, long-term, goals. To compare the two, NGI is a kind of marginal network, and NGN is a communication network based on the traditional telecommunication model with centralised control. NGN tends towards technological democracy and freedom, but has discipline and is centralised. The combination of the two tries to take the advantages of both the Internet and the telecommunications network. Research into both NGI and NGN is going on, and both are being deployed, in China and in the world. NGN, generally speaking, is offered as a commercial network. Because of the huge cost and risk, NGN is based upon an upgraded version of the traditional telecommunication network. Although it is often less difficult to start with NGI, the NGI is not necessary to initiate an NGN, nor must the NGI necessarily develop into an NGN. Still, when the two can be properly merged, then can provide great mutual benefit. The problems of heavy traffic and scalability should be addressed first before the integration of multi-services, but NGI should be an important part of NGN. As we see it, we still need to develop a number of more advanced technologies at the leading edge of information network evolution. Period of change New opportunities and challenges exist in this critical period of change. To seize these opportunities, China has launched the CNGI project with the participation of eight different national ministries. The State Development and Reform Commission is leading the effort. The aim of the project is to deploy the CNGI network with more than 40 nodes covering 20 big cities in eastern and central China. Meanwhile, NGN continue to receive attention. In fact, China pays as much attention to NGI and NGN as some of the developed countries. Research into QoS, mobile technology and the controllability and manageability of commercial information networks are all receiving attention in China. Regarding the CNGI project, international cooperation in developing and promoting NGI, and possibly NGN, is strongly encouraged in terms of both hardware and software. NGI, the next generation of the Internet, will be easier to manage and provide better security. IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) opens up new opportunities for the Internet. NGI has made some improvements based upon the best effort principal of its developers and upon the integration of centralised management and distributed intelligent control of networks. Whatever the final result, one can be sure that the merger of NGI and NGN will provide many opportunities and challenges for all the countries in the world. The first generation of the Internet had relatively limited application. It highlighted e-mail as its main service. The second generation centres mainly upon the worldwide web and the broad range of additional services it provides. The advances of the third generation of Internet technology have grid technology as their focal point. The Next Generation of Information Network (NGIN) will be characterised by multi-services, broadband, grouping, accessibility, mobility, compatibility, security and manageability. NGIN, essentially, will also be ubiquitous and will be online at all times. Global competition The entry of China into the WTO, and the consequent ongoing reform of trade practices, means that businesses using the Internet, the global telecommunication network, will usher in an era of greatly expanded global competition. Today, China is becoming the world’s greatest market for mobile communications. Although there are at present 350 million users of mobile phones, this figure represents no more than 26 per cent of China’s total population. Operators from abroad are well aware of the potential the Chinese market holds for expansion. At this moment – the transitional juncture from IPv4 to IPv6 and from NGI to NGIN, while the two generations of technology coexist – China needs to follow hard upon, and adopt, the latest developments lest she be marginalised, technically and economically, once again. So much is expected from NGIN, but the history of telecommunication development has shown time and time again is that what originally seems to be an ideal system often proves to be less than satisfactory, eg B-ISDN and the Ir-system (web information retrieval system), in practice. People are now calling for a customer-oriented network. Each kind of network has its own merits and it is quite difficult to construct a single network, or type of network, that combines the merits of all the others. Such is the case with the combination of fixed line and mobile services. Do we really need to integrate the two, seeing that they are really quite different from each other in terms of, for example, business permissions, competition conditions, applicable regulations and rules, indexing mode and service standards? Perhaps not, since customers would be able to enjoy all the convenience of an integrated style multi-service, as long as they can obtain full access to the contents and services of any information network by using a unique number to access the full range of online services from whatever network they happen to be using. Information technology drives industrialization and it is opening up broad prospects for the sustainable developments of the Chinese information network industry. The information network industry has played a historic role in building the scope and dimension of sustainable development, has increased the country’s competitiveness and finally is helping transform China from being a simple big telecommunications using country, into a strong developer and producer of telecommunications technology. Information technology will also play an important role speeding China’s socio-economic development and in building a harmonious society. China already stands at the forefront of state of the art of information technology. What China now needs is to develop the sort of killer broadband services and applications that will truly serve the country’s needs, and to engage seriously and cautiously in the research and development of NGIN.