The subscriber base of mobile phone connections is set to exceed that of fixed-line phones by the end of 2004. According to figures released by the government today, cellular and WLL phones together comprise over 45 per cent of the total telephone base in the country at present.
The growth in the telephone subscriber base continued in the first two months of the current fiscal, with about 2.87 million connections being added during the period. This takes the total number of phones in the country to 79.41 million, up 39 per cent over last year, according to the figures.
About 70 per cent of the connections added during April-May 2004 were mobile connections. The number of mobile phones, including both WLL and cellular mobile phones, was over 36.3 million as on May 31, 2004.
According to the figures, private telecom service providers cornered over 90 per cent of the subscribers added during April-May 2004. The share of private sector in the total number of telephone connections now stands at 41 per cent.
The number of village public telephones (VPT) as on May 31, 2004 stood at 5,22,515, while the number of rural direct exchange lines was at 12.3 million. Tele-density during the period increased to 7.29 per cent from 7.02 per cent at the end of March 2004.
The government also issued six new Internet service provider licences during the period in reference. Seven new licences for unified access services were granted to Dishnet DSL for West Bengal, Assam, the Northeast, Jammu and Kashmir, Orissa and Himachal Pradesh.