The number of telephone users in the country declined over 3 per cent in 12 months to 90.45 crore as of October-end, Parliament was informed on Wednesday.At the end of the same month last year there were 93.51 crore phone users in the country.
The decline was due to the removal of inactive mobile telephone connections and high tele-density in urban areas, Minister of State for Communications and IT Milind Deora said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.
“The number of telephone subscribers declined from 935.18 million at the end of October, 2012 to 904.57 million by the end of October, 2013,” Deora said, adding that India’s tele- density was 73.32 per cent at the end of October this year.
However, he added, there has been no decline in the revenue received by the government from telecom service providers.
Deora said there are variations in tele-density between different service areas as also between urban and rural areas.
He added: “Variations in income levels, literacy rate, availability of infrastructure and remoteness of the area are some of the reasons for variation in tele-density.
He said the projected investment in telecom sector by the government and the private players during the 12th Five Year Plan period (2012-17) is Rs 9,43,899 crore.
“The targets for the Twelfth Five Year plan include, inter-alia, provision of 1,200 million telephone connections by the year 2017,” Deora said.
The government, he added, has taken various steps to give impetus to telecom sector growth in the country and to improve the quality of services.
The government had approved the National Telecom Policy- 2012 on May 31, 2012 which addresses the vision, strategic direction and various medium and long term issues related to the telecom sector.
He said a scheme has been launched by Universal Service Obligations Fund to provide subsidy support for setting up and managing 7,353 infrastructure towers in 500 districts, spread over 27 states, for provision of mobile services in the specified rural and remote areas, where there is no fixed or wireless coverage.
“7,317 tower sites and 16,254 base transceiver stations have been commissioned by service providers as on November 30, 2013,” he said.
The government has also approved a project for creating a National Optical Fibre Network to connect all the gram panchayats in the country.