Memoranda for Submission to the Chief Ministers of the Two Telugu States.


Telecom and Information Technology - Revolution in India

Dt:  10/6/19


Telecom and Information Technology -

Revolution in India


Dr T.H.Chowdary*


In the mid-1960s, the Chairman of the  world’s largest  telephone company, AT&T in the US while addressing  the shareholders meeting  televised  nation -wise  expressed the hope that every person born in the world will be  given  a name but a telephone number  and when that number is called and if there is no answer, one could conclude that the  called person is dead!  For 750 cr people in the world  there are   now 650 cr  telephone numbers. In some countries, the telephone numbers are more than the  total  population ; in our country  in our Metro cities Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and  Kolkata; also there are  more telephone numbers than the population itself.   We have now 120 cr telephones for a  population of  130 cr in the country.  Once starved for telephones, now the telephones has become affordable by the poorest of the poor.  This has come about because of the removal of the   monopoly of the  government department of telecoms (DOT) ,  introduction of private telephone companies into an atmosphere of hyper competition. At one time we had 12 telephone companies  fiercely competing with one another. At the peak of competition, India’s Telcos were adding 19 mln phones a month ( compared to the total of 10 mln phones we had in 1994, when  P-Telcos were permitted ). The P-Telcos  brought new technologies, new services and new business  practices.  For eg:  the prepaid subscription allows the  poor to control their  expenditure on telephone and it saves the companies the expense of  billing and collecting and accounting . The average  revenue per user (ARPU) per month  in India   is less than  Rs. 150.   An year’s use by such people is just equal to  3 days wages. That is the reason why everyone is affording the phone . Smart phones  now in current use are almost replacing the computer itself. Radio & TV, internet, video calling , pictures and text from any publication can be seen on the telephone screen.


2. A few months ago the world celebrated the invention of the World Wide Web  by Tim Berners Lee . Together  with the internet the entire  world is  now interconnected and any article, any history, any person’s life can be got  almost instantaneously on the  smart phone.


In India nearly 60cr of people are connected to the  internet.  The  cost of usage of the internet  in India is the lowest in the world  and that is why the average download of information by an Indian is much more than that of China  and even America.  Social media   like Whatsapp,  Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube ,  Facebook, e-mail, SMS are enabling any person from anywhere and at any time to communicate with any person and the speed with which information can be displayed on the  screen has bene increasing  with successive generations of the mobile telephones. The first generation ( 1G)  was in 1980s and thereafter at end of every decade,  a new generation is enabling the information transport / retrieval  at tremendously increasing speed. Within the  last 40 years, have been having  five generations (5G) of   mobile telephony,  each one giving  more information in less time.  5G is 50 times faster than 4G. India’s digital ecosystem now (2019) comprises of  123 cr Aadhar numbers, 120 cr mobile phones, 55 cr Internet  users, 38 cr smart phones and 2.5 cr social network activists.     


3. The fifth generation (5G of mobile telephony is developed by companies in South Korea, China, Sweden and  Norway.  It was conceptualised ten years ago. It is a tragedy that no program of R&D was undertaken to develop any mobile telecom technology .  Every generation (1G to 4G) of technology is use in India has been an import from Ericsson of Sweden and  Huawi/ZTE of China.  Even the Make in India movement of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has not led to  any indigenous effort to develop Indian 4G or 5G although mobile telephony has been for more than 20 years in India.  Should we not revitalise C-DOT and  task it to  develop, say 6G mobile telecom technology?


4. We are now grappling with  Artificial Intelligence (AI). So far we thought that only human beings are intelligent among all the  species of life on this  planet. Now machines,  like robots are becoming more intelligent than human beings. Machines are learning  languages . These  are translating one  language into another in real time. Machines are  replacing  human beings for labour. Advances in robots and  machine learning and acquisition  of intelligence  artificially  and  autonomously, pose  big  problems  for humans as they start interact with   human beings with all the attributes    like learning,   memorising, thinking and giving out solutions. Judgements and human emotions like right and wrong; kindness,  love and hate  have got different meanings and values in different  cultures and civilisations – Christian and Islamic, Hindu  Dharma, Buddhism,  Jainism,  Sikhism  and  Confucianism. Can  values  and which of them are to be taught /learnt by the machines; and if they  become so smart and come to the conclusion that the human beings are erring grievously and are  becoming suicidal, will they conclude  to put an end to the human species itself ? These are some of the  problems that are being discussed by scientists and philosophers  familiar  with  the  progress of  machine  learning and acquiring  intelligence surpassing humans (expected to be in the  year 2100). That event is called “ a singularity”. (896 words)