China\'s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has set the country\'s three carriers the target of connecting 99.8 % of villages with phone services and 99% with internet access by year-end.
Chinese carriers and government agencies have spent 46 billion yuan ($6.7 billion) in the past five years bringing telephone and internet services to 130,000 villages across the country.
According to the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), in 2008 Chinese netizens in rural areas topped 84.6 million people, an increase of 60.8% from 2007.
As part of its new rural telecom policy announced in April, China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom are also required to bring \'information to the countryside\', in particular key agricultural information.
The goal of the policy is to set up information stations, databases on agricultural products in each of the selected 10,000 townships and villages by the end of 2009.
Carriers are asked to work with local agriculture departments to set up agriculture information centers in each township and village. In the first stage, carriers will work in six designated provinces: China Telecom in Jiangxi and Sichuan, China Mobile in Chongqing and Hebei, and China Unicom in Henan and Jilin.