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Cellphone craze in India

Here is nice article from Toronto Star. India is definately going to be high-tek inspite of its problems :)


Cellphones join India's sights, sounds
World's lowest rates lure millions of new subscribers The latest movie soundtracks are popular ring-tones


New Delhi—Owning a cellphone in India is no longer the prerogative of the rich and the famous. When first introduced in India in 1994, cellphones soon became a must have product but usually limited to the hands of business execs, rich kids or fresh college graduates with no responsibilities and a few rupees to spare.

Not so any more.

"We were on the bus to work one day when a (cellphone) rang," explains 23-year-old Sarita Patel, who works at a call centre. "Everyone looked in their bags for their (cell)phones. Suddenly the bus driver picked up his phone and started talking. We all looked at each other and laughed."

These days a cellphone is a handy accessory for anyone and everyone: Taxi drivers trying to find out the routes with the least jams in the traffic congested city. University students planning to skip a class and check out the latest English film playing at one of the multiplexes. Even the milkman who delivers "pure cow's milk, no water, madam," to your doorstep often has a cellphone plastered to one ear.

Walking on the street, sitting in Barista, a chain of Starbucks-style "coffee pubs," and even at a place of worship, you're likely to hear a cellphone going off every few minutes.

Downloading ring tones, varying from Hollywood blockbuster soundtracks to the latest Bollywood tunes, off the Internet is all the rage with the younger crowd. Acquiring the latest handset being advertised, currently it's the handsets with a built in camera, is the biggest trend with everyone.

The cellular industry boom in the country came after the telecom deregulation in April this year. Currently the industry posts a growth rate of 80 per cent annually and by 2006 India will have 44 million subscribers making it the third largest market in Asia, after China and Japan.

According to the latest statistics recorded by the Cellphone Operators Association of India (COAI), there are 8.7 million subscribers in India at present.

Currently there are 57 mobile networks across 1,500 cities and towns, in addition to 60,000 villages and most major rail routes and highways. When all licensees become operational, 77 mobile networks will serve India.

This rapid growth in the cellular industry, despite a dip this year due to the disconnections of existing users after the government introduced a mandatory identity verification process to prevent misuse of prepaid cellular cards by criminals, can be attributed to the to the intense competition in the industry.

Cellphone users in India enjoy the lowest rates in the world at two cents per minute, according to International Telecommunications Union.

Many find getting a cellphone much less hassle than a landline.

"It's just more convenient," says 23-year-old law student Arjun Moitra. "You just buy a cellphone instrument and then either get a connection from a service provider or get prepaid cards. And you're good to go. And it's cheap."

Even the milkman who brings "pure cow's milk, no water, madam" to your door has a cellphone on his ear

The process of getting a landline involves going to the local MTNL (Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited, the Indian version of Bell Canada), filling out a form, displaying proof of identity and residence and paying the fees. A technician comes by later to install a phone.

Getting a landline is much faster these days, the entire process taking not more than a week. But people remember the times when you would distribute sweets in your neighbourhood when you got a phone connection.

Besides the ease of acquiring a cellphone, the convenience of "keeping in touch" is primary for small businessmen such as Vinay Sharma. Sharma is a construction contractor.

"It's very helpful to keep in touch with my customers and to order more materials required for the job," he says in Hindi, adding that he bought his cellphone four years ago. He motions to wait a minute. Spitting out the orange liquid buildup after copious paan chewing, he proudly displays his cellphone. Suddenly the phone rings, blaring out the Indian national song `Sare Jahan Se Achcha.'

"My wife," Sharma explains. "It's also very helpful to stay in touch with my family because I have to constantly run around."

The recent cellphone craze has more to do with added features provided by either the phone or the service provider.

Despite its blow-a-hole-in-your pocket price, the latest Nokia cellphone with a built in camera is one of the favourites. The phone has many fans that love clicking impromptu photos with their cameras and sending them to other Nokia 7650 owners or emailing them later.

The other big rage in the nation is SMS or Short Messaging Services.

According to India Today, a current affairs magazine, over 2.5 million SMS messages are sent by four hundred thousand cellphone owners daily, an average of over 60 messages per phone per day.

More than half of these messages are generated between 7 and 9 a.m. and between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. Eight out of 10 SMS messages are sent from big cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Pune, Chennai and Hyderabad.

On the occasion of the Indian festival of lights Diwali, for example, 9 million SMS messages reportedly flashed across the airwaves in Delhi alone and created a giant clog on the city's mobile messaging highways. On a national basis, over 25 million messages were generated.

It's hard to ignore the ubiquitous SMS message tone. As soon as you own a cellphone, you inadvertently receive a few messages. Whether it's silly joke, a flirtatious note or a reminder for a business meeting, SMS messaging is the way to do it.

The latest trend within the SMS messaging fad is to send or forward each other dirty jokes. Even Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan, who has almost demi-god status in India, admitted to "forwarding a few" in an interview.

"SMS has given a way for Indians to communicate to each other," says India Today relationships reporter Shefalee Vasudev. "In the office, at home, on the streets, it's everywhere. It's quick and it's private. And there's a certain anonymity attached to it, which makes it popular.

"Indian people are conservative to the extent that they hardly talk with each other even when they are having sex. Now, people are sending each other flirtatious messages, they'll laugh at the dirty jokes being sent and forward it."

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Junior Desi
Member since: Nov 01
Posts: 15

Post ID: 490 18-11-02 20:25:32
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Junior Desi
Member since: Nov 01

Posts: 47

Aree it was nice article with a photo of Bawaji with white beard, a kamandal and cigaret in one hand and was talking on cell phone - cute!!

Post ID: 491 18-11-02 21:17:08
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