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SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, June 5) - The Internet and other
modern communications technology are boosting the number of telephone users in
the CNMI, which increased by 10 percent during the first quarter of the year
compared to the same period last year.

Between January and March, there were a total of 27,880 phone
lines operating, compared to the 25,348 during the same quarter in 2002, latest
data from the Department of Commerce showed.

The data, supplied by Verizon, showed that the latest
three-month figure topped the levels of at least the previous four quarters.

The use of cellular phones, pagers and other broadband
technologies are also increasing.

Of the total 27,880 phone lines, 16,189 are for commercial
purposes, while the remaining 11,691 are used by residential customers.

Majority, or 15,244 of the total commercial phone lines, are on
Saipan, while 492 are on Rota and 453 are on Tinian.

James Santos, economist with the Division of Economic
Development , also noted a 15 percent increase in the number of commercial phone
lines on Saipan during the first three months of the year.

"More phone lines could indicate that there were a lot of
new businesses or some existing businesses expanded and needed more lines. Rota
and Tinian also saw increases," said Santos.

Residential phone lines slightly went up by 4 percent, or from
11,208 to 11,691 — majority of which are also on Saipan.

June 5, 2003

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