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Better internet access is life-changing for herders in NE China's Inner Mongolia

By Li Lei | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-07-19 13:39
Sonir watches television programs in his makeshift house deep in the grasslands in Hulunbuir, North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region. [Photo by Zou Hong/chinadaily.com.cn]

For years, Sonir had to wrestle dropped calls as he shepherded sheep on his grassland lying close to China's border with Russia and Mongolia. In case of an emergency, he would race on horseback to meadows higher up in search of better cell phone signals.

Now, expanding internet access has enabled the herder from eastern Inner Mongolia autonomous region in North China to contact buyers on the messaging tool WeChat, watch an assortment of local and national programs on a smart television, and even monitor his stocks remotely via phone apps.

Sonir was among about 30 herders who recently reaped benefits from a program spearheaded by local authorities to boost internet access among the once-isolated herding population in Xin Barga Left Banner.

The banner's government in 2017 signed up an internet service provider to build internet infrastructure in remote pastures in a bid to bolster access to basic public services.

As part of the program, the company tailor-designed a user interface accessible via smart televisions that allows herders to consult doctors and lawyers based in the county seat.

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