Telecommunications is crucial for growth and modernity. It is one of the fastest sectors and has immense potential for future growth. As a prime support service needed for rapid growth and modernism of all sectors of the economy, it needs to be promoted and developed as a basic infrastructural input.
At the time of Independence there were only 321 telephone exchanges, 82,000 working connections, 338 long-distance public call offices and 3,324 telegraph offices. Now, India operates one of the largest telecommunication networks in Asia comprising over 25,394 telephone exchanges with a capacity of 272.2 lakh lines and 226.3 lakh working connections.
The number of telephones has increased from 1.7 lakh in 1950-51 to 3.0 crore by 2001-02. Now STD (Subscriber Trunk Dialing) for national dialing is available to almost connections.
ISD (International Subscriber Dialing) is available for 170 countries. Cellular mobile phones are getting popular. Around 35 lakh people are using this facility. Out public corporations (MTNL and BSNL) have joined private operators.
There are more than 2.5 lakh local public offices (PCO's) and more than 4 lakh STD. Under this scheme, village public telephone (VPT) has been connected in about 4 lakh villages. The BSNL has planned to cover all villages by the end of 2002.
The telephone services and operations have been corporatized into Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) in October 2000. Telephone service for Mumbai and Delhi has already been corporatized under Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL).
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has been set up to regulate tariff and competition in the telecommunications sector.
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