Mobiles are no more a luxury or a life style product. Mobile phones, which were one of the beautiful possessions of anybody not until a decade ago, have now become a necessity to the common man. The entry of private service providers with CTMA, GSM and of course, 3G technologies has changed the Communication sector in India beyond imagination.
Many new competitors have entered the mobile market resulting in reduction of the STD rates and Local call rates. Plans are also on anvil to enable mobile users to switch over to other service providers without changing their number, also called Mobile Number Portability (MNP).
The mobile users in India have increased tremendously during the last decade. Youth, both in rural and urban India, have welcomed and accepted mobiles with open hands. The decrease in call rates can be imagined from the fact that it cost around? 16 per minute when mobiles were introduced in India and today it costs as little as 1 paisa per 2 seconds offered by companies like MTS. Even the size of mobile phones has changed to an unimaginable level. They have become very handy today compared to their walkie-talkie resemblance when they were introduced.
The immense benefit offered by a mobile has triggered this revolution. With a mobile phone in hand, one can be available round the clock, and can get the up-to-date information on anything. The availability of internet on mobile phones has increased its utility tremendously. It has made mobile phones, to an extent, an essential item for carrying out a business transaction. The facility of sending short messages or pictures enables a person to send the message across without actually bothering to disturb the other person.
For traders, it helps them get the price details of any products without even bringing the products to the market. The introduction of mobile banking helps people carry their bank in their mobile. Some people even carry their office in their mobile phones.
However, mobile phones also have some demerits as they can be used to detonate bombs. Some instruments which have cameras in them can be used for taking unnecessary photographs. Constant use of mobile phones may create health problems and increase risk of accidents on road. In spite of these demerits, mobile phones are becoming popular day-by-day as their advantages fairly outweigh the demerits.
In fact, the mobile revolution has occurred very fast in India. This symbolizes the country's transformation from an inward looking tentative nature to a confident and resurgent global economic power. The mobile phone service providers have also increased manifold during the years. Some of the important market players are: Aircel, Airtel, BSNL, MTNL, Idea Cellular, Tata Indicom, Tata DoCoMo, Reliance Communications, Virgin Mobile, Vodafone, Videocon Telecommunications, MTS India and Spice Telecom.
Even in rural India, mobile phone has brought a tremendous change to rural telephony, marginalizing the middlemen and empowering women, strengthened by the formation of self-help groups. It has vastly improved access to information and helped in the explosive growth in connectivity. Even at sea, fishermen in Kerala use the mobiles to keep track of rates for their catch in the market. The improvement in infrastructure and support from the Government has acted as a catalyst for mobiles to make tremendous inroads into rural India.
The role of mobile telephones are varied, in that, they help assess the market information, coordinate travel and transport, manage remote activities and increase the remunerative working days. As a result, the rural marketing scenario has also undergone a change. Today, the rural consumer is better informed and price conscious.
The total mobile penetration is increasing at a quick pace with companies like Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, Reliance Communications, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Tata Teleservices, etc. having unveiled big network expansion plans and innovative marketing strategies specially tailored region-wise. Some of these companies are using a door-to-door marketing strategy in villages and B and C category census towns. They are involving members of gram panchayats and trained market-feelers to make residents aware of the usefulness of mobile telephony and how the system of pre-paid refills work.
Handset manufacturers too are gearing up with Nokia incorporating nine Indian languages on certain handsets to promote sales. Value-for- money handsets priced between 1,000 and 1,400 with a plethora of tariff plans to choose from is also one of the reasons for driving subscription growth in these regions. Handsets are being imported in bulk by some service providers. It is expected that voice short messaging service will become a focus area in future, especially in rural areas and service providers are already planning implementation of the same.
The pace at which mobile revolution has occurred in India can be attributed to the easy to understand operations. For an illiterate, mobiles phones were so easy to operate that they needed to understand only two buttons the green button for answering a call and the red button for disconnecting a call. Everything else can be learnt with usage and passage of time. Even today, most of the mobiles are used on this two button principle, which makes it a popular device.
Gone are the days when people use to queue up before a Public Call Office (PCO) and wait their turn for an hour, only to end up without connectivity. Mobile phones have also removed the necessity to remember telephone numbers of other people. In-built phone books in the instruments enable a person to call the other person, without ever having to remember the other person's number.
Actually, mobile phones have become an all-in-one tool in the pocket, which has replaced even the old pocket diary. It is also slowly replacing purse, with the introduction of mobile transactions. No wonder, life without mobile phones have become unimaginable and unthinkable to many.