LHASA, March 2 (Xinhua) -- The number of mobile phone users in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region has reached nearly 3 million, according to the latest data.
By the end of 2014, Tibet had 2.92 million registered mobile phone users, accounting for nearly 95 percent of the total population of the region, a spokesman with the regional communications administration told Xinhua on Saturday.
The number of landline subscribers reached 359,000, according to the data, which was released by the administration.
The plateau region is known as "the roof of the world" due to its average altitude of over 4,000 meters, and building telecommunications infrastructure there is difficult and costly.
Tibet launched mobile phone services in 1993, with only one base station set up in Lhasa. More than ten years ago, mobile phones in Tibet were still considered a status symbol.
Now mobile phones have become indispensable for Tashi Tsering, a 19-year-old Tibetan man who works in Ngari Prefecture. He uses his phone to contact friends, spot job vacancies and read the news.
"It connects me with a larger world and makes life more convenient," he said.
The local technology and information department and technology companies have developed an input method, operating system and web browser in the Tibetan language to help more people use mobile phones.
Currently, Tibet has about 2.17 million Internet users. The spread of mobile phones and Internet use has shortened the distance between Tibet and the outside world, promoted the region's economy and broadened horizons for Tibetans, said He Gang, an associate researcher with the Tibet Autonomous Regional Academy of Social Sciences.