The success of the telecom sector has still not fully percolated to rural India in 18 years of service liberalisation, as the latest data by the department of telecommunications (DoT) reveals a big digital divide between rural and urban India.
In rural areas, only 40% of the people owned phones, compared to 166 connections for every 100 urban residents, by the end of August.
Bihar is the worst state in terms of telecom penetration. Only 26% people own a phone in the state in rural areas.
In urban areas, there are as many as 178 connections for every 100 people.
Delhi has the highest telephone penetration of 233%, followed by Mumbai (173%).
Himachal Pradesh has the highest tele-density in rural areas. About 74 people out of every 100 own a phone in rural areas.
The state also has the highest tele-density in urban areas at 385, meaning that every person owns close to four phones.
"The digital divide in the country is increasing," said BK Syngal, former chairman and MD, VSNL.
"Licences for Bihar were awarded about 15 years ago. However, in rural Bihar tele-density is only 26%. This clearly shows that the so-called telecom revolution has simply bypassed rural areas."
The cost of setting up networks in rural areas is very high compared to urban areas, said an official of the department of telecommunications (DoT).
Moreover, the total revenue earned is comparatively very low. Hence, private operators are reluctant to install rural networks.