History of Indian Telecommunication

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India is the world's fastest growing industry in the world in terms of a 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 betweenCalcutta (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 throughout 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 dialling. Trunk dialling 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 the entire country after separation from Indian Post & Telecommunication. A decade later Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) was chipped out of DoT to run the telecom services of Delhi and Mumbai.

In the 1990s the telecom sector was opened up by the Government for private investment. In1995 TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) was set up. 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 percent 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 the operator follows GSM mobile system operate under 900MHz bandwidth few recent players started operating under 1800MHz bandwidth. CDMA operators operate under the 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 providers of broadband speed as compared countries such as Japan, India and Norway. The minimum broadband speed of 256kbit/s but speed above 2Mbits is still in a nascent stage.

The year 2007 had been declared as "Year of Broadband" in India. Telcos based on ADSL/VDSL in India generally have sped 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 the 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 in the hands of a 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 fibre 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 organisation 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 an Engineer by profession a cellphone freak and a developer.

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TT Desk is handled by TelecomTalk staff writers covering breaking news, live events and more from the world of telecom and technology.

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