History of Indian Telecommunication

History of Indian TelecommunicationIndia is the world’s fastest growing industry in the world in terms of number of wireless connections after China, with 811.59 million mobile phone subscribers.

According to the world telecommunications industry, India will have 1.200 billion mobile subscribers by 2013.

Furthermore, projections by several leading global consultancies indicate that the total number of subscribers in India will exceed the total subscriber count in the China by 2013.

So how Telecommunication started in India??

Well Postal means of communication was the only mean communication until the year 1850. In 1850 experimental electric telegraph started for first time in India between Calcutta (Kolkata) and Diamond Harbor (southern suburbs of Kolkata, on the banks of the Hooghly River).

In 1851, it was opened for the use of the British East India Company. Subsequently construction of telegraph started through out India. A separate department was opened to the public in 1854. Dr.William O’Shaughnessy, who pioneered the telegraph and telephone in India, belonged to the Public Works Department, and worked towards the development of telecom. Calcutta or the-then Kolkata was chosen as it was the capital of British India.

In early1881, Oriental Telephone Company Limited of England opened telephone exchanges at Calcutta (Kolkata), Bombay (Mumbai), Madras (Chennai) and Ahmedabad. On the 28th January 1882 the first formal telephone service was established with a total of 93 subscribers.

From the year 1902 India drastically changes from cable telegraph to wireless telegraph, radio telegraph, radio telephone, trunk dialing. Trunk dialing used in India for more than a decade, were system allowed subscribers to dial calls with operator assistance. Later moved to digital microwave, optical fiber, satellite earth station. During British period all major cities and towns in India were linked with telephones.

So who was looking after Telecom??

In the year 1975 Department of Telecom (DoT) was responsible for telecom services in entire country after separation from Indian Post & Telecommunication. Decade later Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) was chipped out of DoT to run the telecom services of Delhi and Mumbai.

In 1990s the telecom sector was opened up by the Government for private investment. In1995 TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) was setup. This reduced the interference of Government in deciding tariffs and policy making. The Government of India corporatized the operations wing of DoT in 2000 and renamed Department of Telecom as Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL).

In last 10 years many private operator’s especially foreign investors successfully entered the high potential Indian telecom market. Globally acclaimed operators like Telenor, NTT Docomo, Vodafone, Sistema, SingTel, Maxis, Etisalat invested in India mobile operators.

Wireless Communication

Pager Services

Pager communication successful launched in India in the year 1995. Pagers were looked upon as devices that offered the much needed mobility in communication, especially for businesses. Motorola was a major player with nearly 80 per cent of the market share. The other companies included Mobilink, Pagelink, BPL, Usha Martin telecom and Easy call. Pagers were generally worn on the belt or carried in the pocket.

The business peaked in 1998 with the subscriber base reaching nearly 2 million. However, the number dropped to less than 500,000 in 2002. The pager companies in India were soon struggling to maintain their business. While 2-way pagers could have buffered the fall, the pager companies were not in a position to upgrade their infrastructure to improve the ailing market. The Indian Paging Services Association was unable to support the industry.

Pager companies in India also offered their services in regional languages also. However, the end had begun already. By 2002, Motorola stops making or servicing pagers. When mobile phones were commercially launched in India, the pager had many advantages to boast. Pagers were smaller, had a longer battery life and were considerably cheaper. However, the mobile phones got better with time and continuously upgraded themselves.

Mobile Communication

First mobile telephone service on non-commercial basis started in India on 48th Independence Day at country’s capital Delhi. The first cellular call was made in India on July 31st, 1995 over Modi Telstra’s MobileNet GSM network of Kolkata. Later mobile telephone services are divided into multiple zones known as circles. Competition has caused prices to drop and calls across India are one of the cheapest in the world.

Most of operator follows GSM mobile system operate under 900MHz bandwidth few recent players started operating under 1800MHz bandwidth. CDMA operators operate under 800Mhz band, they are first to introduce EVDO based high speed wireless data services via USB dongle. In spite of this huge growth Indian telecom sector is hit by severe spectrum crunch, corruption by India Govt. officials and financial troubles.

In 2008, India entered the 3G arena with the launch of 3G enabled Mobile and Data services by Government owned MTNL and BSNL. Later from November 2010 private operator’s started to launch their services.

Broadband communication

After US, Japan, India stands in third largest Internet users of which 40% of Internet used via mobile phones. India ranks one of the lowest provider of broadband speed as compared countries such as Japan, India and Norway. Minimum broadband speed of 256kbit/s but speed above 2Mbits is still in a nascent stage.

Year 2007 had been declared as “Year of Broadband” in India. Telco’s based on ADSL/VDSL in India generally have speeds up to 24Mbit max while those based on newer Optical Fiber technology offer up to 100Mbits in some plans Fiber-optic communication (FTTx). Broadband growth has been plagued by many problems. Complicated tariff structure, metered billing, High charges for right of way, Lack of domestic content, non implementation of Local-loop unbundling have all resulted in hindrance to the growth of broadband.

Many experts think future of broadband is on the hands of  wireless factor. BWA auction winners are expected to roll out LTE and WiMAX in India in 2012.

Next Generation Network (NGN)

Next Generation Networks, multiple access networks can connect customers to a core network based on IP technology. These access networks include fiber optics or coaxial cable networks connected to fixed locations or customers connected through Wi-Fi as well as to 3G networks connected to mobile users.

As a result, in the future, it would be impossible to identify whether the next generation network is a fixed or mobile network and the wireless access broadband would be used both for fixed and mobile services. It would then be futile to differentiate between fixed and mobile networks both fixed and mobile users will access services through a single core network. Cloud based data services are expected to come.

Indian Satellites

India has launched more than 50 satellites of various types, since its first attempt in 1975. The organization responsible for Indian satellites is the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). Most Satellites have been launched from various vehicles, including American, Russian, European satellite-launch rockets, and the U.S. Space Shuttle. First Indian satellite Aryabhata on 19th April 1975, later Bhaskara, Rohini, INSAT, Edusat, IRS, GSAT, Kalpana, Cartosat, IMS, Chandrayaan, ResourceSat, RiSat, AnuSat, etc.

Well guys this is how telecom Industry is growing in India, hope to see India far ahead of other countries in near future.

About the author:
Amruth.H.R is a Engineer by profession a cellphone freak and a developer.

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  • Duane September 6, 2015 11:34 am

    KOSHIKA TELECOM – under the brand name USHAFONE around 1998.
    They could not pay their license fees and their license was cancelled by DOT.

  • Ganesh Kale - Sangamner August 11, 2015 2:50 pm

    Thanks to give us important information

  • girish dave - mumbai January 8, 2015 2:34 pm

    Dear Amruth,
    Can you tell me on what date exactly, MaxPage of Hutchinson started paging services in India & where? Where this information would be available?

  • karishma - amreli November 23, 2014 10:52 pm

    thnx for dis awsum article…its really very useful….

  • yesudass - bangalore September 22, 2014 12:40 pm

    Use full. Updates

  • Hemu - Delhi September 4, 2014 3:27 pm

    I never thought, telephone technology came to india, so early i.e. 1882. This is really great info dude.

  • shivanimishra June 1, 2014 1:39 pm

    Its really usefull …..thankyou so much….i like it..

  • BHAGYA NARAIN February 7, 2014 12:38 pm

    i like it

  • DUANE January 6, 2014 11:43 pm

    Good Article .. one correction:
    1st Mobile Call was made from CALCUTTA (Kolkata) and not DELHI.

  • sourabh October 27, 2013 11:39 am

    Thanks for share these valuable information.

  • Suraj Chitre September 7, 2013 7:36 pm

    Telecom Talk – Thank you so much Amruth.H.R for sharing such an Useful information. Hope to get more from you in the future. All the very best. Take Care. Suraj chitre

  • prakash July 23, 2013 4:20 pm

    thank u very much for information

  • ravinder reddy.t June 26, 2013 10:23 am

    its very useful ,thank you very much

  • rohan naratavadekar March 11, 2013 12:20 pm

    very good ….!

  • raj January 24, 2013 10:22 am

    Really nice information Thank you very much

  • Himanshu Bajaj March 25, 2012 12:16 am

    A very good artical…give lot’s information about telecom sector…very useful..thanx..

  • John Smith March 22, 2012 5:28 pm

    There are no any suspense that indian market is growing very fast. Really Useful and informative post. Thank You so much.

  • Sibaji mondal February 24, 2012 8:25 am

    My point of view prasently indian telecommunication grouh rate is very fom anather country, beacuse our country poulation grouth rate is very high fom anather country, noumber of mobile user grouth increase every year

  • Cibisha Paulasingh January 19, 2012 9:46 pm

    Thank you 🙂 Was very useful………..:):)

  • Prakash Sukhwani November 23, 2011 1:57 pm

    Useful tool, these type of informations really help to prepare projects.

  • patel sagar July 18, 2011 6:06 pm

    Realy nice information which is useful for MBA PPT.Thanks dude.

  • Sneha June 26, 2011 7:14 pm

    Really Useful… Thank You so much…

  • Ganesh Srinivasan May 30, 2011 9:33 am

    Very Good article

  • karann May 30, 2011 12:04 am

    @Anwar Kacchi
    this article should not close atlest till 3 days, i want comments keep going on

  • karann May 30, 2011 12:03 am

    very good knowledge, keep it up… u r very intelligent

  • rajiev May 29, 2011 11:27 pm

    any buddy know bihar first operator

  • Gouri Agarwal May 29, 2011 11:17 pm

    good info

  • Anwar Kacchi May 29, 2011 10:31 pm

    this Article Like Amitabh Bacchan ….khatam hi nahi hota…

  • abhijith May 29, 2011 9:09 pm


  • rajiev May 29, 2011 9:07 pm

    Telecom licences awarded so far
    Licence awarded to 8 operators in four metros without auction. Spectrum was allocated to Bharti, Sterling, BPL, Usha Martin, Max, Modi Telstra, RPG Cellular and Skycell.
    Bharti was initially awarded Mumbai circle which was challenged by Tata telecom. As per the Court decision, Bharti was given the licence of Delhi Circle and BPL was given Mumbai.
    Two licences were issued for each of the 19 circles other than metros through auction. The final bids were for US $ 30 billion. The licences were awarded to Bharti, Birla AT&T, Tata, BPL, Escotel, Koshika, Reliance and Jasmine.
    As the licence fee awarded during 1995 was very high and the operators were finding it difficult to pay up this amount, the Government decided to shift the fixed licence fees to a revenue sharing regime in 1999.
    After awarding the 3rd licence to BSNL / MTNL in all circles, Government auctioned the fourth licence and the winners were Bharti, Idea, Essar and Escotel.
    The Government awarded Unified Access Service Licence to fixed line operators like Reliance and Tata. Even though the GSM operators challenged this decision in the supreme court, the issue was settled outside the court by the GSM and CDMA operators. For getting the UAS licence, the CDMA operators paid Rs 1651 cr for the 23 circles.
    In 2008, the Government awarded licence to Etisalat, Uninor, Loop, Shyam Sistema, Videocon and S Tel and the licence fees were fixed at 2001 rates.
    The CDMA operators like Reliance and Tata teleservices were given GSM licence.
    The Indian Government is now reviewing its licencing policy due to the contraversies generated by its earlier decisions

    Read more: http://www.articlesbase.com/communication-articles/history-of-telecom-licences-issued-in-india-3910897.html#ixzz1NkwgLZqC
    Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

    • DUANE January 7, 2014 12:04 am

      Thanks Rajiv … thats useful info, I was looking for a collated post all over.

  • rajiev May 29, 2011 7:59 pm


    •1996 : Tata teleservices was the first to launch CDMA mobile services in India with the Andhra Pradesh circle

  • rajiev May 29, 2011 7:40 pm


    •August, 1995 : GSM entered India.
    •Historic first cell phone-call was made by MobileNet-joint venture between Telstra (Australia) & B.K. Modigroup.
    •Mobile revolution began in Kolkata.
    •Handset costs-40,000 & Call tariff-17 Rs/min.
    •In the initial 5-6 years the average monthly subscribers
    additions were around 0.05 to 0.1 million only and the total mobile subscribers base in December 2002 stood at 10.5 millions.

  • rajiev May 29, 2011 7:07 pm

    National Telecom Policy – 1994
    Telecom India Daily 4
    •Indian telecom sector was liberalized by the government and changes reflected in local services market.
    •The country was divided into 20 telecommunication circles for basic telephony and 18 circles for mobile services.
    •These circles were divided into category A, B and C depending on the value of the revenue in each circle.

  • Mayur Hawaldar May 29, 2011 6:49 pm

    nice article…thank u tt for providing great information…it will be very to useful me…i am proud to be reader of tt..

  • rajiev May 29, 2011 6:34 pm

    internet telephone was started=2002

  • rajiev May 29, 2011 6:33 pm

    bharat sanchar nigam limited is born-2000

  • rajiev May 29, 2011 6:32 pm

    wirelss in local loop(WLL)telephone system introduced in delhi by mtnl-1995

  • rajiev May 29, 2011 6:30 pm

    wirelss in local loop(WLL)telephone system introduced in delhi by mtnl

  • rajiev May 29, 2011 6:05 pm

    nice article on weekend. complete read want more!

  • Saroop May 29, 2011 6:00 pm

    Which Was the first mobile phone lunched in india by nokia ?

  • ..JacK.. May 29, 2011 5:22 pm

    Nice article…its good to read something different…

  • Arif May 29, 2011 4:33 pm

    Hey nice article. After reading of telegraph my good old days comes in mind. I used to learn telegraphy (Morse Code). I achieved the speed of 12WPM receiving and transmitting. I used telegraphy on HF band.

  • TD May 29, 2011 4:17 pm

    Long long history….

  • Amruth.H.R May 29, 2011 4:03 pm

    @Manoj Abhigyan
    India’s 1st Mobile service provider was the Modi Telstra’s- MobileNet.

    • DUANE January 7, 2014 12:10 am

      Proud to have been an employee of MOBILENET from 1999 onwards !!

  • Amit.G May 29, 2011 4:02 pm

    good article. Though figures mention as 800million but according to voice and data. The actual connections in india are less than 500million. That is teledensity is less than 41%. So still india has huge potential in telecom. New operators can still hope for making profits in india.

  • Rohan Singh May 29, 2011 3:09 pm

    Mahmood Junaid :
    US and china has more internet users than india…. its not japan

    1. China
    2. Us
    3. Japan
    4. India


  • rahul May 29, 2011 3:05 pm

    lol….u hv nt mentioned SOUTH.KOREA..which have 95 % broaband users…after US
    ( 60%)….
    and india mein 3 % bhi nhi honge….

  • MICKEY May 29, 2011 2:56 pm

    First call in india was made between sukhram and joyti basu(Delhi-Kolkata) on 15 Aug 1995

    • DUANE January 7, 2014 12:11 am

      Does anyone know the call lasted just 13 seconds !

  • Mahmood Junaid May 29, 2011 2:11 pm

    US and china has more internet users than india…. its not japan

  • Manoj Abhigyan May 29, 2011 2:05 pm

    Can anyone tell me which number series was allotted first to any mobile connection? Was it a 10 digit number?

    • DUANE January 7, 2014 12:12 am

      98310 xxxxx was the 1st code of MOBILENET – today active as AIRTEL KOLKATA
      98300 xxxxx was the next code – COMMAND – today active as VODAFONE KOLKATA

  • Manoj Abhigyan May 29, 2011 1:48 pm

    Nice article.

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