A woman speaks on the telephone in Auwar Village in Pratapgarh district of Uttar Pradesh (Representational image)
A woman speaks on the telephone in Auwar Village in Pratapgarh district of Uttar Pradesh | Representational image | Sanjit Das for Bloomberg
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Data shows mobile phones have rendered landlines redundant, with over 72 per cent Indian villages boasting mobile connectivity.

New Delhi: In a telling sign of changing times and altered social conditions, nearly three-fourths of the villages in the country today have mobile connectivity, while less than two per cent have the once-popular landline phone services.

Latest village-level data on availability of telephone services, collected by the Rural Development Ministry as part of its Mission Antyodaya, shows mobile services are available in a little over 72 per cent of India’s total villages, but landline services are present in just 1.8 per cent villages now.

The exhaustive data — of different village-level parameters, infrastructure facilities, and amenities across states and Union Territories — is currently available for over 5.6 lakh villages and 2.4 lakh gram panchayats.

According to the 2011 Census, there are a little over 6 lakh villages in the country.

The idea behind gathering such data is to identify gaps in villages to ensure targeted development and execution of schemes.

Availability of telephone services

Data clearly shows that there has been a rapid and widespread rise in the use of mobile phones, reaching a vast majority of villages, not just replacing landlines but rendering them near-redundant.

It was on 31 July 1995, that the first call using a hand-held mobile phone was made in India. Union Telecom Minister Sukh Ram and the then chief minister of West Bengal Jyoti Basu spoke to each other using the Modi Telstra network. India has been among the fastest growing markets for mobile phones across the world.

The ministry has collected data for 5,63,219 villages across the country so far, of which only around 10,000 continue to have landline services while over 4 lakh have mobile connectivity.

Around 18 per cent of the villages have both mobile and landline services, while only around 8 per cent have no phone services at all.

Ministry officials, however, point out that the process of data collection is still on and as data for more villages becomes available, the picture could change to some extent.


Also read: These 10 tech breakthroughs from India Mobile Congress can change our world


State-wise findings

As many as 17 states and Union Territories have more villages with mobile connectivity than the national average. Sikkim tops the list with mobile services available in over 89 per cent villages, followed by Jharkhand (88 per cent) and Nagaland (86 per cent).

Interestingly, UTs like Daman and Diu, Goa and Andaman and Nicobar Islands have among the largest number of villages with landline phone services.

Among states, Uttar Pradesh tops the list with 4.3 per cent of its villages still boasting landline phones, followed by Telangana and Andhra Pradesh at 3.4 and 3 per cent respectively.


Also read: No English? No problem. How non-English speakers in India are using their smartphones


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