Chinese Net Provider Eyes Service for U.S. Firms

HONG KONG (05/10/2000) - A venture linked to Jitong Communications Ltd., operator of one of China's major data networks, plans to offer U.S. companies access to that network for advanced services such as virtual private networks, frame relay service, and voice calls over IP (Internet Protocol).

The World Tone service, to be launched next month with voice-over-IP and frame relay service, will let companies here use Jitong Communications Ltd.'s Golden Bridge network that links 12 cities in China with high-capacity connections, according to officials of Jitong's Hong Kong subsidiary and its partner in World Tone International Ltd. They spoke in an interview yesterday at the iLocus.com Show (Asia 2000) in Hong Kong, focusing on IP telephony. [See "IP Telephony Vendors Look To Advanced Services," May 9.]Jitong Communications, a state-owned enterprise based in Beijing, is one of China's largest Internet service providers and holds one of four licenses for IP telephony in China.

Through partnerships with facilities management companies in the U.S., World Tone will market its services to multinational companies with headquarters in the U.S., according to Lukie Heung, vice president of Comtec International Ltd., a Hong Kong investment company that is cooperating in the venture with China Jitong Communications Holdings (HK) Ltd. They will also include a platform to support e-commerce functions, they said.

The services will be offered from servers at World Tone's Hong Kong facilities, and the company will lease international network capacity between Hong Kong and U.S. customers' headquarters. The company will offer access to the Golden Bridge network through its 67M-bps (bits per second) international gateway, Heung said.

Jitong Communications plans to add by July a 45M-bps link between Guangzhou and Hong Kong and a 45M bps connection between the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone and the U.S., according to Gu Yiping, managing director of Jitong Hong Kong.

Jitong, like other service providers represented at the iLocus Show this week, is looking toward more advanced services on top of basic IP telephony. They expect the price advantage of IP telephony compared to traditional phone calls to disappear as tightly controlled telecom markets such as China's are gradually deregulated. Gu expects the country to reach that point within two years, he said.

China Jitong Communications Holdings, in Hong Kong, can be reached at +852-2520-6160 or online at http://www.jitong.com.

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