Sun, Dec 19, 2021 | Updated 04.02PM IST
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Mumbai: Jangling sound of landline phone rings its way into history, 7.6 lakh disconnect in 9 yrs

Mumbai: Jangling sound of landline phone rings its way into history, 7.6 lakh disconnect in 9 yrs

Hemali Chhapia / TNN / Updated: Dec 19, 2021, 03:47PM IST
Mumbai Jangling sound of landline phone rings its way into history 76 lakh disconnect in 9 yrs

Image used for representational purpose only

MUMBAI: That jarring clank of the good ol’ landline phone seems to be fading slowly.

In the era of the cellphone, lakhs of people in Mumbai have hung up on their fixed phone connections over the past few years as the landline has failed to march in step with time and technology.

In the last nine years alone, 7.6 lakh landline connections have been surrendered to the public telephone authority, MTNL.

A manifestation of how times are changing if you consider that in the ’80s, it was a long waiting list for new connections. In April 2021, only 14.8 lakh connections were active in the city.

This year, data shows that fresh subscriptions for the landline hit their nadir with merely 2,535 applications for new connections Mumbai (till November 30).

The downward slide began in 2014-15 when the number of connections surrendered to MTNL outnumbered the new connections.

This trend continued and intensified in 2020-2021. That is when over 1.16 lakh users surrendered their landlines, and merely 3,998 applied for a new connection.

RTI activist Anil Galgali, who had sought this information, pored over the data to find that although new customers had been added in the past two years, the numbers were miniscule.

While 1.9 lakh customers surrendered their landlines between 2020 and 2022, only 6,533 new connections were added in MTNL, Mumbai.

“Customers were already dissatisfied with the service and MTNL, Mumbai, has failed to maintain the quality of service due to contractual work in the past few years. MTNL, Mumbai, can compete with private players only if positions are filled and quality of service improves,” said Galgali who has written to the Prime Minister and telecom minister to take measures to save MTNL, Mumbai.

An MTNL insider, who did not wish to be named, said that old-time employees who had left were not replaced. “Instead, posts were filled with contractual, untrained people,” said the insider.

In 2020, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said, landline subscriber base was falling, with connections down from 3.68 crore on January 31, 2010 to 2.06 crore on January 31, 2020.

Of the total telecom 118 crore connections, only 2.03 crore — that’s less than 2% — were landline as of February.

MTNL’s Mumbai general manager Sanjay Khare said several factors had led to the decline of the landline’s tele-density, but added that now telephony via optical cable or fibre-to-home was picking up pace.

“The mobile phone came packed with so many conveniences. It’s in your pocket, all numbers are saved, you can make a call to the one you want to speak to rather than going via another person who may pick the landline. As soon as a call from a cell phone got cheaper than the landline, it really pulled the landline traffic towards the cellular phone,” explained Khare.

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