Information technology revolution in general, and telecommunication in particular, has been one of the technological breakthroughs that have affected lives of many if not any.
It was in 1876 that Alexander Graham Bell first transmitted a spoken word by overhead wire. Just six years later, telephone services reached India. The first formal telephone service was established in the country on January 28, 1882, with Major E Baring, member of the Governor General of India’s Council declaring open the Telephone Exchanges in Kolkata, Bombay and Chennai. It then took 15 years more to reach Ahmedabad from Bombay.
The first telephone exchange in Ahmedabad, located in a building near Panchkuva Gate, started functioning on July 17, 1897. It had a select band of 34 subscribers. The exchange was installed and run by the privately-owned Bombay Telephone Company.
The earliest telephones in Ahmedabad worked on the magneto system. The instrument was powered by dry battery cells which needed constant refilling, servicing and replacement. Nearly 20 years later CB system dispensed with the battery and generator at the customer’s end.
The system enhanced once again in 1934 when the automatic exchange started functioning at Shahpur. The auto-exchange now enabled a telephone user to directly dial a subscriber’s number. Soon telephones were in great demand in the city.
Further advancements and developments milestones in information technology included establishment of first wireless telegraph station between Sagar Island and Sandhead in 1902; installation of first Automatic Exchange in Shimla in 1913. In 1927,
Radio telegraph system between the UK and India, was inaugurated by Lord Irwin on July 23 by exchanging greetings with King George V. In 1933 Radiotelephone system was inaugurated between the UK and India.
First subscriber trunk dialling route was commissioned between Lucknow and Kanpur in 1960, followed by first optical fibre system commissioned at Pune in1979. In 1980 the first satellite earth station for domestic communications was established at Sikandarabad. In 1983 the first analogue stored program control exchange for trunk lines commissioned at Mumbai.
C-DOT was established for indigenous development and production of digital exchanges in 1984. It was in 1995 the very first mobile telephone service started on non-commercial basis and internet got introduced to India on 48th Independence Day -15 August 1995 in Delhi. There has been no looking back since.
As of December 2011, total Internet connections stood at 22.39 million with Telephone subscriber base of 742 million, of which, wireless subscription has been 706 million. With overall tele-density at 62.51% India’s telecommunication network now is the third largest in the world on the basis of its customer base.
India has the world’s second-largest mobile phone user base with over 930 million users. It has the world’s third-largest Internet user-base with over 137 million.
As these figures indicate, telecom revolution has been a great leveller. From preserve of the few, the elite club of 34 telephone subscribers it has now become the common most currency possessed equally by the maids as well as masters.
It has been accessible as well as affordable to most. It has led to freedom for the economically weaker for not having to depend on idiosyncrasies of masters to allow one to talk far distance. Let us not try and make this again into exclusive clubs of BlackBerry boys or i-V bands.
It is also important to be constantly reminded that technology has not yet transmuted the DNA of human evolution. We still remain social animals. We still remain the subsystem of nature at large.
World may well have been shrunk with the advent of phones and nets, thankfully, humans have not been able to break through its social web.
Skype has not substituted the surprise and pleasure of personal presence on anniversaries and events. Internet has not eliminated the intimacy of hugs and holding of hands, emails have not evolved to replace expressions of eye or unsaid words and face book has not matched the bond of face to face encounters with silent gaze.
Telecommunication is all about spoken words; however, there is immense power in the unsaid. We are humans and let us not get fooled by the thought that decades of micro chip revolution has changed our million year DNA evolution...Let us remain humans!!!
Yatin Pandya can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org