An Overview

History

Telephone services in India begun in a small scale with the commissioning of a 50-line manual telephone exchange in 1882 in Kolkata. This was less than five years after the invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell. India had approx. 82 000 telephone connections at the time of independence (1947) and by 1984 the number of connections had slowly risen to 3.05 million. India's telecom network was notoriously unreliable and only available to a small section of households along with the corporate sector. The telecom sector was a government monopoly until 1994 when liberalisation gradually took place. Cellular service was launched in November 1995 in Kolkata.

Expanding Network

The Indian telecom industry has grown rapidly during the last few years but has witnessed a substantial fall in growth more recently. India has the third largest (based on the total number of fixed/mobile subscriber lines) telecom network in the world and the second largest mobile network with 1.15 billion subscribers in Apr 2020.

Mobile

The mobile subscriber base has decreased in recent months as is the case in the number of landline subscribers. Overall telecom subscriber penetration has increased to 90 % by the beginning of 2018. Major brands sold include Huawei, Xiaomi, Samsung, Realme, Vivo, Oppo, Lenovo and Micromax. Around 145 million smartphones were sold in India in 2018 out of an estimated total of 330 m mobile handsets.

Telecom Manufacturing

Oppo, Xiaomi and Samsung are among the telecom companies that have set up assembly/manufacturing facilities for the production of mobile phones and other telecom equipment to cater to India's growing telecom market and exports too.

Mobile handsets worth around ₹ 1.8 trillion and 290 m units were manufactured/assembled in India in 2018/19. Mobile handset exports reached ₹ 112 bn in 2018/19 exceeding the value (₹ 100 bn) of mobile handset imports to India.

Mobile Network Statistics

India's Largest Wireless Telecom Operators (Apr 2020)
Operator Wireless Subscriber Base (millions)
Reliance Jio 389
Bharti Airtel 323
Vodafone / Idea 315
Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) 120

 
Wireless Subscribers (in millions) in Delhi, Mumbai & Kolkata (Apr 2020)¹
City Total Operators
Delhi 53 Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea, MTNL
Mumbai 37 Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea, MTNL
Kolkata 26 Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea, BSNL
¹ Source: TRAI

SOME FACTS & FIGURES ON INDIAN TELECOM

Currency: 1 USD equals approx. 73 Indian Rupees (₹)

Govt. Telecom Links

DOT - Department of Telecommunications
BSNL - Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd.
TRAI - Telecom Regulatory Authority of India
VSNL - India's public sector overseas telecommunications provider
Top

TELECOM NEWS

Indian Telecom News
Indian Bandwidth
VOICE & DATA (India)
Top

FIXED LINE OPERATORS

Public Operators

BSNL
Calcutta Telephones (under BSNL)
Chennai Telephones (under BSNL)
MTNL

Private Operators

Tata Teleservices
Bharti Airtel
Reliance Infocomm
Top

WIRELESS (GSM) SERVICE PROVIDERS

GSM Network Coverage >>
Reliance Communications
BSNL - Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd.
MTNL
Provides cellular service in Delhi and Mumbai.
IDEA Cellular
Bharti Airtel
Provides mobile phone service in all the 23 circles of India.
Vodafone India
Reliance Jio Infocomm

OTHER CELLULAR RELATED LINKS

AUSPI (Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India)
COAI (Cellular Operators Association of India)
IAMAI (Internet & Mobile Association of India)
Top

OTHER TELECOM LINKS

Nokia India
Motorola India
Bharti Telesoft
GSM India
Bharti Televentures
Comsat Max Ltd.
Subex Group
TCIL BellSouth Ltd.
Matrix Telecom Pvt. Ltd.
Hughes Escorts Communications Ltd.
Himachal Futuristic Communications Ltd.
C-DOT (Centre for Development of Telematics)
Indian Telephone Industries
Telephone Cables Ltd.
Top