HALF of Chinese broadband users don't enjoy the speed promised by telecom companies because the real speed is far below that claimed by telecom operators, a report claimed yesterday.

The average cost of broadband bandwidth in the Chinese mainland is also much higher than in Western countries and Hong Kong, according to the Beijing-based Data Center of China Internet.

The report echoed the complaints from consumers which triggered a government anti-monopoly investigation.

By the end of the third quarter, the center's data showed that 91 percent of users had broadband speeds of less than 400 kilobits per second (Kbps) though they subscribed to a 4 megabytes per second (Mbps) service.

Meanwhile, 53.2 percent of users were not satisfied with broadband services in China, according to the center. It didn't say how many people it had interviewed.

The average 1 Mbps bandwidth in China costs US$13.13 - four times the United States level and more than 400 times that of Hong Kong, the center said.

In November, the National Development and Reform Commission began an anti-monopoly probe into the broadband business, targeting two telecommunications operators - China Telecom and China Unicom.

The two promised to cut broadband rates and lift speeds over the next five years.

At present, China has about 150 million broadband users with China Telecom and China Unicom having almost 90 percent of the market.

China Telecom, the country's biggest broadband service provider, promised to cut broadband rates by 35 percent within five years.

Both carriers also started to improve speeds in the past two months to more than 10 Mbps or even 20 Mbps, 4 to 10 times the previous speed.

However, industry experts cast doubts on the center's conclusions.

Bandwidth just represents the ability of Internet speed but the real speed is determined by bandwidth, the Internet environment and number of users in a specific region, said Jiang Junmu, an editor with C114, a professional website.

Usually, the real speed is an eighth or a 10th of the claimed bandwidth speed. For example, users of 4 Mbps should have speeds of 400 to 500 Kpbs, experts said.

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