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This line is busy

March 1992: I was a very excited 17-year-old. After a long wait of six years, we eventually saw a little black box, invented by Alexander Graham Bell, being installed at our four-member house.

india Updated: Dec 31, 2005 00:44 IST

March 1992: I was a very excited 17-year-old. After a long wait of six years, we eventually saw a little black box, invented by Alexander Graham Bell, being installed at our four-member house. An interest-free Rs 5,000 deposit and a six-year wait notwithstanding, that moment was probably the happiest in all our lives. My father, usually extremely careful with his money, gladly took out a crisp Rs 100 note and pressed it in the willing palms of the linesman.

Four sleepless nights and anxious days later, at 10 am, we heard the most melodious ‘tring tring’ ever! Our joy knew no bounds. But that was then.

November 2005: Have a couple of crores to spare? Well go on, start a business. Become an ISD or an STD service provider. As simple as that.

Calling the last decade revolutionary for the Indian telecom industry would be an understatement. For three years now, I have been with HCL BPO and have marvelled at the huge advances India has made in terms of telecom infrastructure and capabilities. From our office at Noida, we are connected to Britain locally through an undersea cable. There is video conferencing, 100 MBPS super high speed internet, LAN, WAN and Wi-Fi… I could go on and on.

Today, there are six adult members in our house and we all have cell phones. Getting a new cell phone or even a landline connection is as easy as buying onions (okay, may be not onions, let’s say potatoes or tomatoes). Even Kushaan, my four-year-old son, wants a cell phone for himself!

How many of us could have imagined this scenario even ten years back. I remember how one Sunday every month, we used to queue up at our local STD-wala after 10 pm to make inter-state calls. With eyes on the metre and one finger in the free ear, our tone was loud enough to be heard in the neighbouring state even without the phone! Things have changed and how. Calling overseas is virtually free now. There are talks of one rate for everyone across the country.

The potential for cell phones is tremendous. Better still, the internet. It has shrunk the globe and India is racing ahead on the information superhighway. Just goes to prove that we have the ability to turn things around. All we need is the will.

By the way, that 1992 MTNL phone — we returned it three months ago and are still waiting for the refund. Some things never change!

First Published: Dec 31, 2005 00:44 IST