The end of an era: Doffing the hat to the Indian telegraph service

Sandeep Ladda, Leader, Technology, PwC India

The rapid increase of internet usage coupled with the evolution of technology globally over the past two decades, has 'transformed'--in many a manner--the way we communicate. Emails, mobile communication, short messaging service (SMS) and the smartphone as a communication mechanism (in the form of Whatsapp, Skype, Facebook, Twitter and much more), have finally brought the curtains down on the iconic 163-year-old telegram services, a state-of-the-art technology in its heyday. 

Telegrams, then, were a far quicker and reliable method of communicating as against the not-so-sophisticated landline phones plagued by poor connectivity and long-distance issues. Millions relied on the telegraph service for more than a century, and for such an ancient mode of communication to survive the advent of landlines, mobiles and emails is a testimony in itself.

Advances in digital technologies have brought in a plethora of changes to our means of communication. In the past, we typically communicated through analogue telephones, hand-written letters, telegrams. Today, our communication has expanded from one-on-one to a more diverse model that includes one-on-one, one-to-unlimited and vice versa.

Recent reports say that the internet usage base in India is currently at 135+ million and is expected to reach 350+ million in the next five years. Further, tele-density (i.e. the number of telephone users in a given area) is touching record numbers. Also, the growing number of smartphone users in India, which at present is estimated to be around 65+ million, is on the upswing. This has rapidly increased the total amount of digital information being created and shared. Sharing of information–be it messages, photos, or documents--can be done almost real-time, without distance barriers and at almost no cost. This has almost entirely eliminated the need for telegrams. In the current scenario, the discontinuation of the telegram services is likely to not have any significant impact on society.

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