China orders carriers to stop adding phone, internet customers

China has ordered phone companies to stop adding new customers in August so they can better focus on ensuring service for the Beijing Olympics, an Associated Press report said.

The moratorium on new phone and internet connections adds to sweeping measures, including traffic bans and factory shutdowns, that are meant to provide better conditions for the games, a major prestige event for the communist government, the report said, quoting employees.

'We simply won't touch the network any more to ensure its stability for the Olympic Games,' said an employee of China Telecom, China's main fixed-line carrier, who said he had seen an internal company memo on the subject. He asked not to be identified further because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.

The curbs will interrupt explosive growth in new business for mobile carriers, which the government says are adding 9 million accounts per month.

Existing customers should not be affected, said the phone company employees and a spokesman for the Beijing municipal phone regulator. They said the curbs apply to Beijing, several other cities with Olympic events and possibly additional areas.

Businesses have been warned for months of Olympics-related curbs on traffic, construction and other activities.

internet provider China Netcom Corp. distributed a notice to customers this week saying that they should not expect to add new accounts in August.

CNC will avoid installing equipment from August 1 to August 25 but might be able to open a new account if it requires no additional wiring, said a spokeswoman for the company who refused to give her name. The Olympics will be held August 8-24.