(Last Updated on : 29/10/2010)
Indian telecommunication activities have gained considerable momentum in the nation for the past decade or around. Efforts have been made from both governmental and non-governmental platforms to improve the infrastructure. The idea is to help modern telecommunication technologies to serve up all segments of India`s ethnically diverse society and to transform it into a country of technologically sound people.
Until a few decades ago, the telephone service in India was at its developing stages. There was only about one telephone for every 200 persons. Telephone service was considered to be a luxury, and accorded a low priority by government policy-makers. This point of view was replaced, beginning in the mid-1980s, with a vision that telecom services are essential for the sectors like business, industry, and economic development. The revolution in telecommunications services began under the leadership of India`s "high-tech" prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, and Satyen (Sam) Pitroda, a U.S.-returned expatriate Indian.
The Indian telecommunications revolution in a real sense gathered further momentum during the 1990s that was spurred by the sweeping economic reforms of the Narasimha Rao government. While the pace of telecommunications reform has been slow, and the government-run Department of Telecommunications was reluctant to part with its monopoly status, private sector investment in telecommunications was increasing. Telephone density in 2000 had risen steeply to one telephone for 34 people; however it was still low for a nation pursuing an informatisation path to development. Telephone services reach out to India`s villages and market town that are aided by the establishment of digital automatic exchanges and some 650,000 public call offices, which are to be found everywhere.
The Indian Telecommunication industry witnessed a turning point in the rise of Bangalore as a technopolis and for India`s software exports. With the passage of time, a large population aimed at a rise in consumers` income and their financial spending owed to strong economic growth that have helped make India the fastest-growing telecom market in the world. The first and largest operator is the state-owned organisation of BSNL, which is also the 7th largest telecom company in the world in terms of its number of subscribers. BSNL was created by corporatisation of the previous DTS (Department of Telecommunication Services), a government unit responsible for provision of telephony services. Subsequently, after the telecommunication policies were renewed to allow private operators, companies such as Tata Indicom, Bharti Telecom, Vodafone, MTNL, Idea and BPL eventually entered the space.
The total number of telephones in India crossed the 300 million mark on June 18 2008 and the overall tele-density has increased to 36.98% in March 2009. In the wireless segment, 15.87 million subscribers have been added in March 2009. The total wireless subscribers (GSM, CDMA and WLL (F)) base is more than 391.76 million presently. The wireline segment subscriber base stood at 38.22 million with a decline of 0.13 million in October 2008. The total revenue in the telecom service sector was Rs. 86,720 crore in 2005-06 as against Rs. 71, 674 crore in 2004-2005, registering a growth of 21%. The total investment in the services of Indian telecommunications reached around Rs. 200,660 crore in 2005-06, starting from Rs. 178,831 crore in the previous fiscal.
Indian telecommunications is the lifeline of the rapidly growing Information Technology industry simultaneously. Internet subscriber base has risen to 6.94 million in 2005- 2006. Out of this 1.35 million have been broadband connections. More than a billion people use the internet globally. Under the Bharat Nirman Programme, the Government of India ensured that 66,822 revenue villages in the country, which have not yet been provided with a Village Public Telephone (VPT) shall be connected.
It is difficult to ascertain fully the employment potential of the Indian telecommunications sector but the enormity of the opportunities can be gauged from the fact that there were 3.7 million Public Call Offices in December 2005 up from 2.3 million in December 2004. The value added services (VAS) market within the mobile industry in India has shown the potential to grow from $500 million in 2006 to a whopping $10 billion by 2009.