25 years since first mobile phone call was made in Kerala


G Rajesh Kumar

Friday marks the silver anniversary of the first mobile phone conversation in Kerala.

Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai speaks to Vice Adm AR Tandon (inset) during the inauguration of the Escotel Cellular Service.

Thrissur: Friday marks the silver anniversary of the first mobile phone conversation in Kerala. 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-Idea).

The call was made during the inaugural ceremony of the service, held at Ernakulam Hotel Avenue Regent. The service was inaugurated by writer Kamala Surayya.

An outgoing call cost Rs 16.80 and an incoming call Rs 8.40. The price for a handset started at Rs 20,000. Incoming was made free by BSNL in 2002.

In India, mobile phone service was started on July 31, 1995, in Kolkata. The historic call was made between then Union Telecom Minister Sukh Ram and the then Chief Minister of West Bengal Jyoti Basu.

Kerala after 25 years

Now we sell more than 50 lakh mobile phones a year. The state has 4.5 crores of mobile connections. Currently, the major network providers are BSNL, Reliance Jio, Airtel, Vodafone-Idea.

Earlier, the services were provided by Modi-Telstra, BPL, US West, Hutch, Tata Docomo, Uninor, Aircel, MTS and Videocon. All these either stopped service or merged with other companies.

In 2011, Tata Docomo started to charge per second. The next major move in the sector was by Jio by reducing the internet data charges drastically. Many service providers could not stay in the market.

At present, Kerala has 4,50,91,419 network connections including Vi - 1,67,32,881, BSNL - 1,08,38,814, Jio - 1,06,80,602 and Airtel - 68,38,692.

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