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Telephony to Span Tibet

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 01/05/25; May 25, 2001.]

(AP)

LHASA, May 22, AsiaPort - The Tibet Autonomous Region is planning to launch a regional satellite communication system to provide telephone services to all towns across the region.

It will invite foreign companies to bid to supply equipment for the project.

The total investment in the project is expected to top 200 million yuan (US$24 million ), according to Zeng Zhongyi, general manager of the Tibet Telecom Company of the China Telecom Group.

Zeng said the plan would require hundreds of foreign-made land receivers.

"We will rent communication satellites from both domestic and foreign companies to support the satellite communication across the region," Zeng said.

Overseas giants such as Hughes of the United States and Alcatel of France, are "actively contacting Tibet Telecom," hoping to gain a slice of the project, said Zeng.

Bidding is expected to start in the first half of next year and the company is hoping to start construction on the receivers before the end of 2001.

"We hope to complete the project before 2004. By then people in almost every town in the region will be able to make phone calls, except those living on remote mountains," Zeng said.

At present, only one-third of the towns in the 1.2-million-square-kilometre region have telephone services.

Zeng said the development of telecommunications in the region is "of great significance for national security."

He said defence forces need to be able to communicate by telephone along the 4,000-kilometre border of the region.

"It is also important for the economic development of Tibet, which is sparselly populated," he said.

According to the region's 10th Five-Year Plan (2001-05), Tibet has vowed to pour 2 billion yuan (US$121 million) into the telecommunications sector over the next five years to ensure its development outstrips the overall economic development of the region.

Turnover in the sector is expected to increase by 14.9 per cent annually over the next five years, compared with a predicted 12 per cent annual growth rate in the region's gross domestic product.

Zeng said the region is expected to double the turnover of the telecommunications industry to 500 million yuan (US$60.2 million) by 2005.

"By 2005, cables will run through counties all over Tibet," Zeng said.

He said the region would also promote broadband networks to develop the Internet industry.


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