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CalTel set for cell network

With less than two weeks to go before public-sector telecom giant Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) launches its CellOne service in the city, Calcutta Telephones is busy preparing for a smooth transition to the new system. BSNL subscribers in the city will join the national cellular network on October 22.

“We are gearing up for the transition from the C-DoT to the CellOne network,” said a senior CalTel official. “By the end of this week, the new SIM cards will reach all the existing subscribers. This will help them log on to the new service the moment it is launched,” he added. For those with prepaid connections, the balance amount will be carried forward.

New subscribers will, however, have to wait till November 1 for the services.

CellOne is the second largest cellular network in the country, next to Bharti. It will allow users the facility to avail of two-way voice and SMS zonal roaming across the East and in several national towns and cities.

Besides better service, the attractive tariff package of CellOne — with calls being charged at a 15-second pulse and SMS charged at 60 paise — will increase BSNL’s subscriber base in the city, feel CalTel officials. “The target is to cross a lakh subscribers by March next year, and take the tally up to three lakh in the next 18 months,” said a senior CalTel official.

According to latest data, September 2003, released by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), BSNL has 24,308 subscribers in the Calcutta telephone district, much lower than the two private operators, Hutch and Airtel.

But to cater to an increasing subscriber base, CalTel is augmenting its infrastructure. Plans have also been drawn up to add 160 new base stations to the network by December this year.

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