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Makeover time for fixed phones

New Delhi, Dec. 30: Year 2007, officially dubbed the “year of the broadband” by the ministry of communications, could also emerge as the year of reinvention for the landline phone.

The new year will see the fixed-line phone, which had lost its novelty to its more glamorous and high-tech mobile counterpart, come back in a new avatar — a gateway to the Internet super highway and perhaps also cable TV at home.

With fixed subscribers accounting for only 31 per cent of the total telephone connections at the end of June 2006, compared with 35.8 per cent in March 2006 and 46.9 per cent in March 2005, analysts agree that “growth has been sluggish, but is set to change”.

“With high-speed Internet connections being routed through landline phones, and new technologies such as broadband, VoIP and IP telephony becoming the order of the day, the plain old home phone is looking at a revival,” said S.D. Saxena, director-finance, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited.

The state-run firm is targeting more than five million broadband subscribers in 2007, which means five million fixed-line subscribers because the broadband connectivity would be routed through copper wires used to send landline phone signals.

According to telecom analyst N.K. Goyal: “Copper wire transmission still ensures highest voice clarity compared with wireless telephony, with minimum instances of call dropping or line congestion, which has become routine in the mobile sector due to the ever-increasing consumer base.”

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