Research house International Data Corp (IDC) has recently stated that telecom operators in China should account for half of the region's total telco capital expenditure investment up to 2005, while other Asian telecom operators increasingly tie their capital expenditure closely with their revenues in the post-tech bubble era.

Davina Yeo, IDC senior programme manager of communications, said operators such as PCCW were keeping capital expenditure to 10-20 per cent of total revenue as against 25-27 per cent previously, as they were becoming more capital efficient.

"Carriers are afraid to say they are expanding their network because of the impact [it would create] in the financial markets," Yeo said. "So this has changed the way carriers operate." For China, which IDC estimated has already invested US$7 billion (HK$54.6 billion) in capital expenditure in the first half of this year, fixed-line operators such as China Netcom, China Telecom, and mobile carrier China Mobile are seen as the 'big telecom spenders".

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