In Kerala, mobile phones turn 25 years old
Though the country had celebrated July 31 as the 25th anniversary of mobile phones in the Indian telecom industry, Kerala had to wait till September 17 for the same. Mobile phone use in Kerala is now 25 years old. It was on September 17 as it was on September 17, 1996, writer Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai spoke to A R Tandon, the then Vice-Admiral of Indian Navy, using a Nokia mobile phone. The service was provided by Escotel Cellular Service (currently Vodafone).
Whereas it was on July 31, 1995, India made history as the first mobile phone call was made by then West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu and erstwhile Union Telecom Minister Sukh Ram. Mobile phone services, then, were reserved only for the elite as every call would cost a whopping Rs 24 then. Twenty-five years later, the state has come a long way as the telecom sector as the last one decade alone witnessed an increase of 1.12 crore mobile phone connections in Kerala.
It is reported that of the 1.12 crore new connection, 70 lakh connections was reported after Reliance Jio came into the fray in 2016. Of the total number of mobile phones in India, Kerala has a share of 3.81 per cent. This period also witnessed a decline of 18.61 lakh landline connections in the state. The state at present has an estimated 4.5 crores mobile connections with the Mobile industry selling more than 50 lakh mobile phones annually.
With leading service providers BSNL, Reliance Jio, Airtel, Vodafone-Idea, network penetration has reached almost all remote villages and areas where data networks would have been unimaginable except some tribal hamlets where the state government has asked the service providers to provide network connections on war footing in the light of online study of school children.
Escotel, which pioneered the mobile phone revolution in the State, has slowly given away to other internet service providers. The demand for mobile phones increased when the incoming calls were made free in 2003. Though the internet was first introduced in India on Independence Day, August 15, 1995, by the Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL), the arrival of smart phones has also revolutionized the internet sector.