Over 98 percent of once-impoverished villages in China have access to broadband

Doctors with a hospital in Zigui county, central China's Hubei province, hold a remote consultation to discuss the condition of a patient with doctors of the health center of a township in the county, Feb. 7, 2020. (Photo by Wang Jiaman/People's Daily Online)

As modern communications technology has been introduced to more and more once poverty-stricken areas in China and communication network has been continuously extended across the country. Over 98 percent of the once-impoverished villages in China have gained access to broadband.


Official data shows that since 2015, China’s central government and basic telecom operators have accumulatively invested over 60 billion yuan ($9.28 billion) in the construction of fiber optic network in 43,000 villages that were plagued by poverty and the construction of 4G base stations in more than 9,200 once poverty-stricken villages.


Guan Jinlan, a once poor resident in Weining Yi, Hui and Miao autonomous county, Bijie, southwest China’s Guizhou province, is excited about the convenience brought about by communication network.


“My child is working in south China’s Guangzhou. In the past, we often got interrupted during phone calls due to weak signal. Since we have better communication network now, I can not only enjoy better quality of phone calls, but video chat with my child,” Guan said.


“I never expected that I could one day video chat with my child,” she said.


More than 99 percent of the administrative villages in southwest China’s Tibet autonomous region have been covered by fiber optic and 4G networks, including those near Mount Qomolangma, Jinsha River, Qiangtang grassland and the borders.


Thanks to the introduction of better communication network, Beldron, a 26-year-old villager in Motuo county, Nyingchi city of Tibet, has been able to promote a stone pot produced by the county’s cooperative through live-streaming.


“This is our stone pot. You’ll know how great it is when you have a taste of our local specialties cooked with it,” Beldron said during a live-streaming show held to promote the stone pot in a store of the cooperative. Over 20 stone pots can be sold during one live-streaming show, Beldron told the People’s Daily.


Communication networks have broken the boundary of space, and allowed new information, technologies and services to reach remote areas at the earliest possible time, said an official with China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).


While ensuring residents in rural areas have access to communication networks, the MIIT has intensified efforts to provide them with more affordable and higher-quality communication networks, the official noted, adding that the ministry has effectively cut the cost of the use of communication network for residents and advanced the wide application of Internet in the cause of poverty relief.


The MIIT has launched a program to encourage basic telecom operators to introduce favorable broadband packages for poverty-stricken residents and areas, in an attempt to increase broadband speed and lower rates for Internet services.


Over 12 million previous registered poor households have enjoyed such targeted favorable packages, among which more than 7 million were offered 50 percent or above discounts on network charges.


After gaining access to broadband Internet, Shibazi village, Ningqiang county, northwest China’s Shaanxi povince, has got new sales channels for local specialties, and lifted all the 165 poor households in the village out of poverty last year, according to Luo Xinfang, secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) branch in the village.


“The remote village has been covered by 100MB broadband. It’s very fast,” Luo said.


The village has benefited from the fiber optic network constructed by the branch of China Telecom, a major telecom operator in China, in Ningqiang county.


Since 2016, the branch has invested nearly 2.2 million yuan in the construction of relevant facilities and built two base stations in the village, covering over 600 households with fiber optic network and mobile network.


The MIIT has continuously implemented pilot projects for universal telecommunications services, popularized 4G network in rural China in a faster pace, and promoted 5G network construction in a proper and orderly manner.


At present, rural areas in China have gained access to the same network and Internet connection speed as urban areas, including regions that suffered from extreme poverty, while the once poor areas in the country are seeing significant improvement in communications infrastructure.


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