Startling changes have taken place in the development of telecommunications services in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, northwest China, over the past five decades, said a local telecommunications official on Friday.
Gao Tongqing, chairman of the Xinjiang Telecommunications Co., Ltd., said, five decades ago, only high-ranking military and government officials had access to artificially-operated telegraphs, which could only send out 20 Chinese characters per minute.
Today, two people share one telephone connected with the national telephone service network in Xinjiang, the westernmost region in China, which has a population of 19 million, Gao said.
Xinjiang resumed telegraph services in the Uygur language in 1951, becoming the first region in China to use an ethnic language in telegraph services, Gao siad.
In 1952, Xinjiang had 1,451 telephones in service in urban areas, doubling the figure for 1949, when New China was founded.
Xinjiang has seen a fast growth in telecommunications services since China adopted a reform and opening-up policy more than two decades ago.
By 2004, Xinjiang had built 35,000 kilometers of optical fibre cables and put 10 satellite ground receiving stations into operation. Moreover, a group of digital telecommunications, an internet data control center, ground microwave and underground cables projects have been put into use in the region.
The number of fixed telephone subscribers reached 5.22 million (every 100 people share 27.4 fixed phones), and subscribers of mobile phones reached 4.89 million (every 100 people share 25.5 mobile phones), by the end of 2004, said Japar Raxidin, deputy head of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Reginal Telecommunications Administration.
This year, Xinjiang will spend 150 million yuan (18.49 million US dollars) to build more telecommunications facilities in rural areas, which will benefit 241,000 people living in remote rural areas in the region.