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Hong Kong gets more wired

Plans for new Internet connections to Hong Kong are speeding ahead, an indication that China is taking a less restrictive approach toward the territory.

Plans for new Internet connections to Hong Kong are speeding ahead, an indication that China is taking a less restrictive approach toward electronic control of the territory, which it will regain July 1.

AT&T said today that it would offer high-speed lines to Hong Kong, as well as to Taiwan. The telecommunications giant said the service was the first of its kind for these island nations. The so-called T45 service lets multinational businesses sent data at speeds of up to 45 million bits per second, the company said.

The agreements with Hong Kong Telecom International and Chungwa Telecom International Business Group in Taiwan show expanding demand for T45 service throughout Asia, according to Darell Sagehorn, director for AT&T's international data services group.

The service will be provided through undersea fiber optic cables.

Such connections stand in stark contrast to the closed approach toward the Internet in mainland China. The Beijing government is seeking to control all access and content within mainland borders through a partnership with the Xinhua state news agency, an arrangement that is aimed at creating essentially a national intranet.

Some analysts have speculated that China's restrictive policies toward Internet content might dampen high-tech expansion when the country takes over Hong Kong, one of the most computer-literate populations.