Telecommunications are of increasing importance in the world of today, and India must develop fast in this sector if it has to achieve competitiveness in the international market.
India operates one of the largest telecommunications networks in the world. It includes communication through telephone, mobile and Internet.
The provision of world class telecommunication-infrastructure is the key to rapid economic and social development of the country. It is also anticipated that in the near future, a major part of the GDP of the country would be contributed by this sector.
In India, telecommunication services were introduced soon after the invention of telegraph and telephone. The first telegraph line between Calcutta and Diamond Harbour was opened for traffic in 1851. By March 1884, telegraph messages could be sent from Agra to Calcutta.
By 1900, telegraph and telephone had started serving the Indian Railways. Telephone service was also introduced in Calcutta in 1881-82, barely six years after the invention of the telephone. The first automatic exchange was commissioned at Simla in 1913-14 with a capacity of 700 lines.
The telecommunication services in India have improved significantly since independence. With the opening of telecom sector to private investment and establishment of an independent regulator, the matter of separation of service provision functions of the Department of Telecommunications (DOT) and providing a level playing field to various service providers including the government service provider, has been achieved.
Initially, the telephone exchanges were of manual type, which were subsequently upgraded to automatic electro-mechanical type. In the last one-and-a-half decade, a significant qualitative improvement has been brought about by inducting digital electronic exchanges in the network on a very large scale. Today all the telephone exchanges in the country are of electronic type.
By the end of 2003-04, India was the tenth largest telecom network in the world, measured in terms of number of phones. The cellular customer base has been growing at a rapid rate.
Fully automatic International Subscriber Dialing (ISD) service is available to almost all the countries. The total number of stations connected to National Subscriber Dialing (NSD) has increased substantially.