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The Internet helped a farmer in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region dig a bigger bonanza last year without leaving his door.

Using a computer mouse along with his hoe, Li Haigang more than doubled his annual income to 100,000 yuan after buying a computer in 2006 to broaden his agricultural knowledge.

One in every two farmers in Xinjiang will be able to surf the Internet by the end of this year, said Haimiti Mijiti, deputy manager of the local China Telecom branch.

By then, broadband coverage will benefit more than half of the region's rural population and reach 100 percent of urban residents, he noted, adding that 100 million yuan is earmarked for installation of optical cable this year.

China Telecom plans to follow that with annual investment of 320 million yuan in 2010 and 2011 to improve the region's communication facilities and services.

Government funding totaled 3.2 billion yuan over the past three years to extend the communication network. Telephone signals now cover 2,786 villages in the region, he added.

By March, broadband users in rural area numbered 180,000, about 1.3 percent of the region's total population, Mijiti said, adding that the national ratio is 1.1 percent.

The number of Internet users in the region has reached 2.5 million, about 1.2 million of whom have access to broadband.

Locally registered websites total 16,000, according to the figures from the local communication administration.

In first quarter of this year, the local telecommunication sector generated nearly 10 billion yuan in revenue, an increase of 18.2 percent year-on-year.

Telecommunication is now a commonly used tool in the remote region, one that has already changed society, said Aili Yushan, deputy director of the local telecommunication administration.

Li, the farmer, said that with a click of the mouse, the information he needed flowed out and helped him solve problems.

More locals in the northwest also have access to the first Uygur language news website,, which receives 350,000 hits daily.

China Unicom, one of the country's three telecom giants, started trial wideband CDMA services yesterday in 55 cities nationwide including Urumqi and Changji in Xinjiang.

Third-generation mobile services will be unveiled in Urumqi by the end of June, Mijiti said.

(China Daily May 18, 2009)