China Telecommunications Corp will set up resources to complete cross-border telecom infrastructure initiatives including the China-Pakistan information corridor, the China-Laos-Thailand and the China-Bangladesh-Myanmar-India projects.
“Cross-border telecommunication infrastructure is one of the first steps for international cooperation,” Deng Xiaofeng, CEO of its international unit China Telecom Global Ltd said on Tuesday.
“Our experience in deploying one of the world’s largest information networks in China can help narrow the digital gap,” he added.
The company will invest more than $1 billion over the next three to five years to expand its presence in the economies along the Belt and Road Initiative including Pakistan.
He said it will also raise more money from state-owned financing institutions and private investors, in a move to build land cables, internet data centers and other infrastructure in Southeast Asia, Europe and other regions.
“State-owned and private capital are now keen to be part of our efforts. We also need their expertise to help us evaluate whether the plans are plausible,” Deng added.
Deng said the company did not exclude the possibility of investing in foreign telecom carriers to help other developing countries accelerate the development of 4G. But Deng did not disclose more details.
As of 2016, China Telecom has more than 4,700 overseas employees, with branches and offices in 30 countries and regions, most of which are along the Belt and Road. It has already built 13 internet data centers in six of them.
According to data from the International Telecommunication Union, the Asia-Pacific region scored 4.58 in informatisation level in 2016, lower than the global average of 4.94.
Xiang Ligang, a telecom analyst and founder of the telecom industry website cctime.com, said China Telecom was one of the first Chinese telecom carriers to go global, with the push starting in the 1990s. “Its expansion plans will also help more Chinese telecom equipment makers venture into overseas markets,” Xiang said.
China Telecom expects that China’s plan to help economies along the Belt and Road improve telecom services will create a market worth $10 billion to $20 billion for the telecom industry over the next five years.