After crossing the 10-crore mark of telephone connections (fixed+WLL+mobile), India’s teledensity has almost touched 10 per cent (almost 10 persons out of 100 people now have telephone connections).
According to the latest figures released by the Department of Communications and Information Technology, India’s teledensity touched 9.6 pc by the end of July 2005. On March 31, 2005, the figure stood at 8.95 per cent.
During the period April-July, 2005, 76 lakh telephones were added, which was higher by 12 lakh as compared to the same period last year. At te same time, mobile phones contributed 58.49 lakh and fixed and WLL added 17.49 lakh phones to the total.
However, one disturbing trend noticed was the falling growth rate of basic connections of the public carriers. Between April and July end, the absolute change in basic telephone connections declined by 4.68 lakh for public operators. When asked about the declining trend, BSNL CMD A K Sinha refused to comment on the matter.
D P S Seth, member, TRAI viewed it as part of a larger global trend where fixed lines were losing to mobile connections. But when asked about the widening digital divide that it might be signalling, he agreed saying only 30 per cent of the Indian population was exposed to the mobile networks.
To make mobile network more accessible to the rural mass, he said, “TRAI is coming out with a set of recommendations, called ‘Recommendations for Rural Communication: Way Forward,’ to incentivise the operators to reach out to the rural audience.”
However, even at 10 per cent teledensity, India is poorly placed against China and other developed countries. China’s teledensity touched 42 per cent last year, whereas countries like the US and Japan have touched saturation points with teledensity levels at 115 per cent and 120 per cent, respectively.