Today, the COAI, India Mobile Congress (IMC), and the telecom industry of India, are celebrating 25 Years of Mobility in India — Desh Ki Digital Udaan.
Lt. Gen. Dr. SP Kochchar, Director General, COAI, welcomed everyone to the 25 years of mobile telephony in India. Telecom sector has connected more than a billion Indians.
In a televised address, Narendra Modi, PM of India, said that the webinar has been organized by COAI, along with DoT. When the first mobile phone call was made in India on July 31, 1995, very few would have imagined where it has since gone. Connectivity was a privilege! Now, it is a tool for empowerment! Digital connectivity is a resourceful ally for remote connectivity. Jandhan, Aadhar, etc., have revolutionized India. The digital ecosystem has scaled many peaks. We also need to be self-reliant. May this webinar unearth more digital possibilities.
Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister Electronics and IT, and Communications, Law and Justice, Government of India, said that in the last 25 years, the telecom sector has witnessed tremendous transformation. Today, India is the second largest telecom market in the world. Telecom sector has to play a massive role in helping achieve the objective of becoming a $1 trillion economy by 2025.
Dr. RS Sharma, Chairman, TRAI, noted that till 1994, the teledensity in India was 0.8% as against 10% in the world. The first licenses were issued in 1995, and 34 CMTS licenses were awarded for 18 states. This was the beginning of the change. In fact, Sukh Ram and Jyoti Basu had spoken to each other on 31 July 1995. There were value-added services, which was offered next.
Anshu Prakash, Secretary (Telecom), Government of India, elaborated that India has come far ahead in telecom. All of you are worthy of congratulations. There is a stellar role played by telecom sector during the current lockdown. Telecom networks enabled each one of us to remain in touch with friends and relatives. What connected us was telecom. Healthcare sector, government authorities, etc., are able to deliver services due to telecom. Data consumption has increased significantly. Telecom did not fail us even once.
Back in 1990s, the rates for telecom calls were unimaginable. The mobile density today is over 85%. The data consumption is about 10GB. With 4G adoption, we have seen better quality of service. The telecom infrastructure industry has also fared well. The number of towers is over 6 lakhs, and rapidly expanding. The very role of mobile phones has changed over the last 25 years. Today, they are the backbone of e-governance, etc. They are a basic requirement in the essential services. The Internet and broadband revolution has also happened. Smartphones have also changed the way.
The period ahead is full of challenges. It needs continuous investment for maintenance. We also need larger network for wireline communications and broadband. Towers need to be fiberized. Rural area are showing huge appetite for consumption. The right of way issues require resolution. We now have a futuristic NDCP policy for a digital India. Provision of broadband for all is necessary. We also need to prepare, invest and be ready for 5G apps.
The Prime Minister has called for Atma Nirbhar Bharat. We will propel India to higher growth. We have the constructive support of the Government of India.
In his address, Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman, Bharti Enterprises, said: “I am delighted to be participating in 25 years of mobile telephony. COAI has played a very important role in shaping the telecom industry. We have seen the operators move from 2 to 12, and now, back to 3. Telecom is key for a digital India. We believe the tariffs are among the lowest in the world. People are accessing entertainment, government services, etc. Telecom has also played a key frontal role in times of Covid-19. We can’t imagine how a country would have survived without a robust telecom network.”
Digital India is a vision. We should ensure that 5G operators will take a frontal role. We are looking at IoT connectivity, low latency connectivity, e-commerce services are all done via the mobile network. The government should also give us relief on levies and taxes. India should also take a lead in local manufacturing and become atma nirbhar. We should accelerate our software abilities. Airtel is still holding strong, and will continue to do so.
Mukesh Ambani, Chairman, Reliance Industries, noted: “Reliance is delighted to be participating in 25 years of mobile telephony. India truly took a leap into the bright future by adopting mobile telephony in 1995. Fixed line telephony provided a partial relief. Technology answered that dream of connecting everywhere, at all times. Mobile telephony has undergone many disruptions over the last 25 years. Mobility has become affordable now. Now, voice calls are free, without any time limit. No other device in human history has erased the digital divide in such a manner. There has also been opened a floodgate of data.”
There has been empowerment of Indians. They are accessing knowledge, buying and selling services, WFH, virtual meetings, etc. All are being done over the mobile. This shows how digital mobility has improved the ease of living for the common Indians.
In less than 4 years, Jio has become the trailblazer in quality, affordability, etc. There are new innovations coming up. Jio’s commitment towards making a Digital India is huge. India should fully benefit from the mobile revolution. Policy steps should be taken to make 2G a part of history. 25 years ago, India was behind the developed world in mobility. Now is the time to move forward, in this mission and vision.