Short-messaging service (SMS) is a dependable driver in the long road ahead for telecom services.
So, come August, Calcutta Telephones plans to provide its fixed-line subscribers with SMS facilities. “Around 2.5-lakh messages are sent every day in the city. On BSNL mobile phones alone, the tally is a mind-boggling four million across the country,” said Pritpal Singh, chairman and managing director, BSNL.
Another major development will be the migration of BSNL mobile services in Calcutta to the CellOne brand, “in the last week of October”.
“The network will be operational in the first week of October, but there will be a 15-day testing period,” said officials at Calcutta Telephones mobile systems unit. The Calcutta circle has set a target of more than a lakh subscribers by April 2004 and hopes to cross the three-lakh mark “within the next 18 months”. There were 22,472 BSNL subscribers in the city as of this May.
Elaborating on BSNL’s national cellular plans, Singh said it was in the process of expanding capacity from the present five million to seven million lines. “There are 3.2 million active subscribers across the country. We expect to touch the five-million mark by April 2004 and 10 million by the end of the next financial year,” he added.
On the limited mobility front, BSNL plans a rollout across 70 cities and has also formulated alternate packages for WLL subscribers.
“The customer will have four options — to buy a handset; pay monthly instalments of Rs 200 for a handset and connection; pay an insurance fee of Rs 25 and assure commitment for a year or buy a handset with a security deposit,” said Singh.