Integrated grids across nation key to development of new tech and industries

China will set up integrated computing network hubs across the nation to further boost the digital economy and provide new impetus for the sector’s development, the nation’s top economic regulator said on Wednesday.

“Data center computing equipment will be key accelerators for the development of new technologies and industries such as artificial intelligence, big data and blockchain, and help fuel digital transformation and high-quality development,” said Shen Zhulin, director of the Department of High-Tech Industry of the National Development and Reform Commission.

“The national computing network will boost the free flow of data and smoothen economic circulation, with the hubs also playing a key role as the new drivers of economic growth and supporting the national big data strategy,” Shen said during the opening ceremony of the three-day China International Big Data Industry Expo 2021 in Guiyang, Guizhou province, on Wednesday.

Shen’s remarks came after the NDRC, together with other three central departments, unveiled a new plan to build national integrated computing network hubs as part of the government’s ongoing efforts to accelerate the “new infrastructure” construction and promote green, high-quality development of the digital economy.

Under the plan, national hubs will be set up in key areas including Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the Yangtze River Delta region, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, the Chengdu-Chongqing city cluster, Guizhou province and the Inner Mongolia autonomous region.

The country will also boost the development of super-large and large-scale data centers and build data center clusters in key regions, supporting businesses such as industrial internet, financial securities, disaster warning, telemedicine and video calls. The end-to-end one-way network latency for such data centers will be below 20 milliseconds, according to the plan.

Shen said the new move will help achieve a structural balance between data centers in eastern and western regions, boost innovation in big data applications, improve efficiency in the use of computing resources and promote green, high-quality development.

During the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-20), China’s big data sector saw a compound annual growth rate of more than 30 percent, and earned 1 trillion yuan ($156 billion) in annual sales last year, said Liu Liehong, vice-minister of industry and information technology.

“Data have now become an important factor of production …and serve as a key engine for accelerating the economic development engine,” said Liu. “The big data industry will be a key driving force in the transition from an industrial economy to a digital economy.”

After years of development, China has taken a lead in the world in the big data sector. According to Liu, China has built more than 819,000 5G base stations, accounting for nearly 70 percent of such facilities in the world. About 310 million cellphones are part of the 5G network, accounting for 80 percent of the global total.

In the next step, Liu’s ministry said it would make a big push to continuously accelerate the development of 5G networks and 1,000M fiber optic networks, create a new intelligent ecosystem and promote the use of advanced energy management technologies in data centers.

More efforts will also be made to build a new type of industrial network infrastructure, encourage enterprises to boost innovation powered by the integration of 5G and industrial internet, promote the digital transformation of enterprises and improve the digital governance system, said Liu.


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