The total number of telephone connections in the country will touch 150 million by the end of 2005-06. This will take the tele-density level to 14 by the end of March 2006 from the present level of 7.02.
If the present trend of high growth in mobile telephony continues, the tele-density level could go up to 17 in the same period, the Economic Survey, tabled in Parliament yesterday, said.
According to the survey figures, the total number of telephone connections grew about 40 per cent in 2003-04 and crossed 76 million at the end of the last fiscal.
The telecom sector witnessed a massive shift in technology from fixed-line to mobile telephony, that caused fixed-line connections growth to drop by less than 3 per cent in 2003-04. The mobile telephony segment, however, experienced a spectacular growth rate of 159.2 per cent.
The last fiscal also witnessed a regime of private sector dominance in providing telephone connections. In the fixed-line segment, public sector service providers witnessed a marginal decline in the number of phone connections from 40.53 million in 2002-03 to 40.48 million in 2003-04. The private sector experienced a growth of more than 100 per cent in this segment.
In the mobile telephony segment, private players continued their dominance, witnessing a 167.37 per cent growth from 10.36 million to 27.70 million during 2003-04. The public sector also saw a sharp growth of 127.27 per cent in this segment.
According to the survey, there were about 1.76 million public call offices (PCOs) working in the country at the end of the last fiscal.
Out of these, more than 200,000 PCOs were in rural areas providing great convenience in terms of connectivity for a large section of the populace without a telephone, the survey added.
The number of Internet subscribers also grew 15 per cent from 3.6 million to 4.2 million in the last fiscal.