China ploughs an additional $18bn into 3G

China is set to invest more than US$18 billion this year to expand its 3G technology across the mainland, according to Reuters.

With the number of 3G users in the country recently announced to be in excess of 25 million (via WSJ), the additional investment will prompt a huge increase in usage of the service. Though they are large numbers, they are lagging behind the government’s targets, which come from the staggering investment made as Reuters details:

By 2011 China will have invested a total of 400 billion yuan (US$59 billion) and hopes to have a 3G network covering most of the country, according to an earlier plan by the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

The 3G investment news is just one of a triple set of announcements relating to the country’s telecoms made over the last week.

China also announced, “matter-of-factly” as Next Web put it, that it had become the first country to hit 800 million mobile phone users while last week it was announced it was also first to the 400 internet users landmark, with officially figures showing China to have a staggering 420 million online population.

No wonder, then, that the top global internet players are so keen on getting a foothold in the market.

This goes some way to explaining Google’s recent about-turn and refocus on its Chinese prospects, particularly for its mobile phone business.

While, to illustrate the power of 420 million online, AFP goes into detail on how the internet can make or break a brand in China.

Chinese people are sharing their opinions and experiences about brands by the millions on online bulletin board services and local social media channels such as Kaixin.

Around 13 million consumer comments, for example, are published every month on automobile bulletin boards alone.

Proportionally, Chinese consumers rely on the Internet in making purchase decisions much more than their counterparts in the West,” said Charles Edouard Bouée, Roland Berger’s Asia President,

Almost 60 percent of Internet users in China said that consumer review sites, as well as discussion forums and blogs, influence their purchasing decisions, compared with less than 20 percent in the US.

But it’s not just talk, according to the report. Consumers are organising themselves for group purchasing discounts and even online and offline “protests”.

Every link in the chain is discussed on the Internet, from deciding what product to buy to the crucial after sales service — which can turn on, or turn off, potential new customers.

 All of which is done without Facebook, Twitter and the Google we know and *love/hate.