BSNL To Discontinue India’s 160 year-old Telegram Service

According to a circular issued by BSNL, India’s legendary 160 year-old is to be discontinued from 15th July onwards this year.  The circular has directed all telecom offices to maintain the log books, service messages, delivery slips only for six months from the date of bookings. However, complaints, press reports and other messages from different consumer forum are to be kept for one year. The telegram service will be fondly remembered as a service that allowed dissemination of information quickly to people across the corners of India since around 1850.

BSNL-telegraph

The growing use of mobile phones and Internet has led to steep decline in the usage of the telegraphic service…it [the telegram] has become financially unviable. After stopping telegram service for overseas communication earlier this year, we have now decided to discontinue it for the domestic market from July 15. The BSNL Board has already approved it. Final clearance is now being sought from the Department of Telecommunications,” well placed sources at BSNL said.

The BSNL has instructed that the staff from the telegraph offices would be deployed to mobile services, landline and broadband services. The departments would take approximately three months to shift the staff to these relevant departments.

The government had revised telegram usage charges back in May 2011, thanks to declining revenues. The telegram charges were hiked from Rs. 3 per 50 words to Rs. 27 per 50 words for inland services. Earlier this year, in April, BSNL had withdrawn the telegram services for overseas communication. This is in stark contrast to the rates of sending an SMS today, it hardly costs a dime for sending one. On this note, I might as well mention BSNL’s falling revenue status. BSNL’s financial performance in recent years has been alarming. From a profit of Rs. 575 crore in 2008-09, the telecom giant has been reporting massive losses for the last three years. In 2012-13, its losses stood at a staggering Rs. 8,198 crore.

People might claim they haven’t used the telegram services their whole lives, but there always will be a section of people who feel attached to telegram way of communicating (a quick search on Twitter is enough to prove this). Further, there’s no question that it is smartphones, better network coverage by Indian telcos and other communication mediums in this digital era that have led to the downfall of telegram. Lower rates of calling, free chat apps like WhatsApp and WeChat and sending SMSes too seems to have played an important role here. In fact, mobile messaging apps are themselves replacing SMS.

On a final note, let’s just call it the end of telegram era.

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