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US$66.21 Mln for Info-superhighway in Greater Mekong

The construction of an Information Superhighway worth US$66.21 million by the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) member countries will commence soon, announced Han Yihu, an official with China Telecom. He was speaking at a forum on business participation in the GMS in Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province on Sunday.

According to the plan, in the first phase of the program between 2005 and 2008, the six GMS countries - Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam - will build a point-to-point optical transmission system, laying the infrastructure foundations for future smooth telecommunication connections in the region.

When the point-to-point transmission system reaches a certain penetration rate, the GMS nations will put in place the ring networks between 2009 and 2010, which will support greater transmission capacities and remove telecommunication barriers in the region, Han said.

The third phase will be the launch of a wide range of international communication services including e-commerce, e-government, e-education, e-health, based on the network platform built in the previous two phases.

The GMS Information Superhighway will provide a broadband platform connecting the six countries where basic services including voice, data and Internet access services can be provided, Han said.

The telecom industry in the GMS region is backward in general, especially in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, which are still at the early stages of telecom development. Government statistics show that in 2003 the percentage of phone subscribers in the four countries was only 0.24, 0.75, 0.56 and 3.19 respectively.

In November last year, the six GMS nations signed an agreement to build the Information Superhighway together. China Telecom organized the first meeting on project implementation in January 2005 and developed the preliminary plan.

(Xinhua News Agency July 4, 2005)

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