We're always looking for ways to make better. Have an idea? See something that needs fixing? Let us know!

India: Telephone
Country Study > Chapter 6 > Character and Structure of the Economy > Telecommunications > Telephone


The telephone system, like many other aspects of telecommunications, is in the government sector, under the control of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The modernization of the telephone system has been underway since 1986 when Mahanagar Telephone Nigam, a government corporation, was established to operate systems in Bombay and New Delhi, and Videsh Sanchar Nigam, also government owned, was set up as the overseas carrier. Progress was slow, however; the rest of the nation's service continued as a civil-service-run operation under the Department of Telecommunications until 1994 when basic telephone services were opened to private-sector competition.

The number of telephone connections rose from 800,000 in FY 1968 to 8 million in FY 1994. The system remains substandard by international standards, however, and there is a waiting list for connections of 2.8 million people. Sometimes several years elapse between application and installation of a telephone line. Close to 1 million new connections a year are being established in the mid-1990s. Plans for increasing the capacity of the system to handle more directly dialed calls were being implemented in the early 1990s, and 20 million lines should be in operation by FY 2000. This number is very low for a population that by then will probably exceed 1 billion. Telephone line density was less than 0.7 per 100 persons in 1994, one of the lowest densities among the major nations of Asia.

There also are submarine telecommunications cables linking India with Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates. Although the government is a major manufacturer of telephone equipment, the private sector -- especially foreign ventures -- is becoming increasingly involved in manufacturing in the mid-1990s and paging, cellular phone service, and electronic mail are being introduced.

Data as of September 1995

Last Updated: September 1995

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for India was first published in 1995. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

India Main Page Country Studies Main Page

Section 204 of 374


Click any image to enlarge.

National Flag

(₨) Indian Rupee (INR)
Convert to Any Currency


Locator Map