China's Ministry of Information Industry (MII) has announced a new goal for this year's rural area communications project, aiming at increasing the telephone penetration rate in the countryside by 1.5% and making it reach 98.6% by the end of the year.

MII is requiring the six main telecom operators to introduce telephones to 10600 villages that have not had a phone and to connect those townships that have not had Internet access to narrowband dial-up or even broadband, if possible.

MII says that telephones will be added in 10000 villages next year to ensure that every village in the country can have a phone by the end of 2007.

MII says it will try to seek funding and policy support from concerned regional departments in realizing this ambitious goal.

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