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32 pc rise in phone connections in Nov

Our Bureau

New Delhi , Dec. 30

THE number of telephones in India, both fixed lines and mobile, has crossed 90 million in November 2004 compared to 71 million in January 2004. This translates into a growth of 32 per cent, while the teledensity surged to 8.37 per cent.

According to an official data released by the Ministry of Communications and IT, the telecom sector that was growing by 20-25 per cent during 2002-03 has shifted to a higher growth band of 35-40 per cent in the last two years.

Significantly, during the year the composition of telephones has undergone a significant change. "The mobile phones including Wireless in Local Loop (460.5 lakh) have already overtaken the fixed line phones (445.1 lakh) as on November 30, 2004,'' the release said.

Correspondingly, the share of the private sector also increased to 45 per cent from 35 per cent in January. During the year, 200.31 lakh phones have been provided, of which about 79 per cent (157.74 lakh phones) has been added by the private sector.

To provide fillip to rural telephony, the Universal Service Obligation fund dispersed a sum of Rs 200 crore during 2003-04 and 2004-05. Agreements have been signed with various players for providing 46,253 rural community phones in villages with a population of more than 2000, while a pact has been inked for providing 66,822 Village Public Phones in the remaining eligible revenue villages.

Meanwhile, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd have announced their plans to launch broadband services by mid next month.

Summing up the various initiatives undertaken during the year including the guidelines for intra circle merger of licences and broadband policy, the release highlighted the intensification of surveillance activities to curb illegal call rackets. "The DoT has detected and busted over 45 cases of illegal exchanges in various parts of the country,'' it said.

In a separate statement issued here, the department said that its vigilance wing along with Punjab police busted an illegal telephone exchange that was routing international calls in Ludhiana.

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