15 Years Ago, India Made its First Cellular Call on this Date

15 years back, the first cellular call was made in India on July 31st [1995] and today, we stand at 635.5 million mobile subscriptions.

Nokia, of course is celebrating its 15th year of presence in India and so is India’s telecom revolution.1876_Bell_Speaking_into_Telephone

As of June, 2010 here are the latest numbers (from TRAI)

  • 635.51 Million –  total number of telephone subscribers (wireless) in India
  • 56.83%  – Tele-density of India
  • 2.27%  –  Broadband penetration

The Early Days

Did you know that there were only 5 million subscribers in the first 6 years? Did you know that the first tariff was Rs. 16 per minute !

And DoT-TRAI tussle is on since TRAI’s formation!

After 1995 the government set up TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) which reduced the interference of Government in deciding tariffs and policy making. The DoT opposed this. The political powers changed in 1999 and the new government under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee was more pro-reforms and introduced better liberalization policies. They split DoT in two- one policy maker and the other service provider (DTS) which was later renamed as BSNL.

The proposal of raising the stake of foreign investors from 49% to 74% was rejected by the opposite political party and leftist thinkers. Domestic business groups wanted the government to privatize VSNL. Finally in April 2002, the government decided to cut its stake of 53% to 26% in VSNL and to throw it open for sale to private enterprises – wikipedia

Market Share of Indian Telecom Operators

Airtel leads, followed by Reliance and Vodafone.

Market Share of Indian Telecom Operators
Market Share of Indian Telecom Operators

15 Years of Nokia

Nokia too has completed 15 years in India and here is a quick snapshot of their achievements

  • 1995 – First mobile phone call made in India on a Nokia phone on a Nokia network
  • 1998 – Saare Jahaan Se Acchha, first Indian ringtone in a Nokia 5110
  • 2000 – First phone with Hindi menu (Nokia 3210)
  • 2002 – First Camera phone (Nokia 7650)
  • 2003 – First Made for India phone, Nokia 1100
  • 2004 – Saral Mobile Sandesh, Hindi SMS on a wide range of Nokia phones
  • 2004 – First Wi-fi Phone- Nokia Communicator (N9500)
  • 2005 – Local UI in additional local language
  • 2006 – Nokia manufacturing plant in Chennai
  • 2007 – First vernacular news portal

The Future of Mobility

As far as forecasts are concerned, India is expected to touch 1.159 billion subscribers by end of 2013 and the industry is expected to reach Rs 344,921 crore (US$ 73.47 billion) by 2012 (at CAGR of 26 per cent).

Most importantly, 3G will drive a lot of data consumption in India, making it a far more interesting market for International players.

There are a couple of interesting trends in the telecom industry to watch out for – for instance, rise of local players (read : Nokia losing market share in India) to the opportunities in Rural India market which mandates innovation in distribution to pricing.

What do you think will drive the next wave of mobile revolution in India?

[img: Graham Bell, credit]

Please note: We have tried hard to get the exact information on the first call made, but of no luck. If you have any information/links, please share with us.

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