Thrissur: Friday marks the silver anniversary of Kerala’s first cell phone conversation. On September 17, 1996, writer Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai spoke to AR Tandon, then Vice Admiral of the Indian Navy, using a Nokia cell phone. The service was provided by Escotel Cellular Service (currently Vodafone-Idea).
The call was made during the inaugural service ceremony, held at Ernakulam Hotel Avenue Regent. The service was inaugurated by writer Kamala Surayya.
An outgoing call costs Rs 16.80 and an incoming call costs Rs 8.40. The price of a handset started at Rs 20,000. Incoming was made free by BSNL in 2002.
In India, the mobile phone service was launched on July 31, 1995 in Calcutta. The historic call was made between then telecommunications minister Sukh Ram and then West Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu.
Kerala after 25 years
Now we sell more than 50 lakh of cellphones per year. The state has 4.5 crore of mobile connections. Currently the main network providers are BSNL, Reliance Jio, Airtel, Vodafone-Idea.
Previously, services were provided by Modi-Telstra, BPL, US West, Hutch, Tata Docomo, Uninor, Aircel, MTS and Videocon. All of these services have either ceased to function or merged with other companies.
In 2011, Tata Docomo started billing per second. The next major move in the industry has been for Jio in drastically reducing Internet data charges. Many service providers were unable to stay in the market.
At present, Kerala has 4 50 91 419 network connections, including Vi – 1 67 32 881, BSNL – 1 08 38 814, Jio – 1 06 80 602 and Airtel – 68 38 692.