Trekkers in Nepal may phone home for the first time with the opening of telephone booths in 33 isolated mountain hamlets.

Prime Minister Marich Man Singh Shrestha Wednesday inaugurated a rural telecommunications network linking 49 administrative districts with a microwave telecommunications system built with a $34.6 million grant from Japan."The rural telecommunications network project was launched with the objective of bringing all district headquarters and important business centers on nationwide subscriber trunk dialing network with access to international telecommunications facilities," said B.P. Shah, secretary of the Ministry of Communications.

The new system took three years to build and links 33 isolated mountain villages via public booths to modern facilities.

People living within 30 minutes walking distance from the booths can be contacted by telephone from within Nepal or abroad via the digital microwave system, said S.K. Pudasaini, the general manager of the Nepal Telecommunications Corp.

They also will be able to make calls anywhere in the country or abroad.

A second phase of the project, also to be undertaken with Japanese assistance, will bring the remaining 26 administrative districts within the range of telecommunications.