Cell phones with Tibetan input and menu are getting very popular with Tibetans as Tibetan radio and television broadcast are no longer novelties.
Tibetan cell phone is specially developed and manufactured to facilitate communication for farmers and herdsmen.
According to Nima Dunzhu, the deputy chief engineer of China Telecom's Tibet branch, to develop wireless communication, the region's vast area and valley terrain require vigorous technical support.
In 2003, construction of wireless communication system started and was completed by the end of the year. After which farmers and herds were quite happy and appreciative, but meanwhile revealed their needs for text messages, for interface of mobile phones available were in Chinese mandarin with which they were not familiar.
The farmers and herders also expressed wish for checking information about weather, business, science and technology via cell phones, but those were not available in Tibetan back then.
In 2004, a research team was set up by joint efforts of China Telecom Tibet branch and Tibet University to develop Tibetan character base and input software. With their efforts, communication system in Tibetan was launched in 2005.
Nima Dunzhu said that besides Tibetan operating system, Chinese mandarin and English systems were incorporated as well, and the user was able to switch between interfaces and inputs in his/her own preference.
Now Tibetan cell phones are very popular among farmers and herdsmen in TAR and also in Tibetan prefectures in other areas, with the number of users amounting to 30,000.
According to a senior cadre of Dazi County, almost all the 400 households in his county boast such kind of cell phones. He said it is a great convenience for those people who know only Tibetan.
(CRIonline February 27, 2009)