Posts and Telecommunications  

Modern postal service didn't appear in Tibet until the early 20th century. Out of their need when invading Tibet, the British colonialists opened a postal service from Yadong to Gyangze in 1904 without the authorization of the Chinese authorities. In 1909, the Qing court sent Deng Weiping, an official in charge of postal services, to Lhasa to make preparations for the establishment of modern postal stations. In 1910, the Lhasa Office of the Qing Postal Bureau was set up. In 1925, the local government of Tibet set up post offices in Qamdo, Xigaze, Gyangze, Parli and Gongbo'gyangda. In the meantime, cable and wire phone services were opened from Lhasa to Gyangze, but only for the local government, monasteries and foreign business people.

Mail was delivered mainly on horseback, and it took at least 29 days to deliver a letter from Chengdu in Sichuan Province to Lhasa. Such a situation lasted until the opening to traffic of the Sichuan-Tibet Highway in December 1954.

Through years of development, the Lanzhou-Xining-Lhasa optical fiber cable has been installed along with one from Lhasa to Xigaze, Shannan and Nyingchi. Satellite ground stations have been established in various localities. Nowadays, the Tibet Autonomous Region has formed its trunk transmission network composed of optical fiber cables and satellite ground reception stations that cover the whole region, and a telecommunication network composed of program controlled exchanges, commu-nication satellites, digital communi-cations, mobile phone communi-cations and other advanced means.

In the Tibet Autonomous Region, there are now some 130 post offices. Postal routes on land total 80,000 km, while postal air routes at present extend to 650 km. In 2000, postal and telecommunications services increased by 38.8 percent over the previous year.

All prefectures and counties have access to satellite long-distance transmission services, which are incorporated into the automatic long-distance telephone exchanges.

In recent years, the autonomous region built the Lhasa Program Controlled Telephone Bureau, the Posts and Telecommunications Building, the 900-million honeycomb mobile phone system, a radio paging system covering five districts, seven IDR satellite ground stations, 73 VSAT satellite communications stations, 1,841 long-distance telephone lines, and 5,810-line automatic telephone exchanges.

By 2000, the autonomous region had 158,980 telephone lines, with 105,625 subscribers; and 124,000 mobile telephone lines, with 46,000 subscribers. The telephone penetration rate has reached 4.3 phones per 100 people; although it is much higher, 22.6 phones per 100 people, in the cities. In addition, there are eight radio paging companies, with some 50,000 subscribers.

The region's volume of postal service reached 283.98 million Yuan in 2000. The Region plans to install optical fiber cables for all prefectures (cities) in 2003, and for all counties in 2005. The goal is for all counties to have access to telephone service in 2004.

Lhasa has been incorporated into the international and domestic automatic telephone network. Direct dial telephone service reaches all parts of China and 180 countries and regions in the world. Telex service is also available.

Lhasa has also developed express mail services with close to 200 cities in China. There are two international postal routes leading the autonomous region to neighboring countries via Xigaze Prefecture's Zham and Yadong.

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