The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Shyam Tele chalks out Rs 984-cr expansion

Jaipur, Sept. 30: Shyam Telelink, the fixed line service provider in Rajasthan, will invest Rs 984 crore to expand its telecom services in the state.

The company has also drawn up a plan to cover all village public telephones in the state within a stipulated period. While company executives were tight-lipped about the target dates, a senior company executive said they plan to cover more than 3,000 villages within the next few years.

Shyam Telelink has adopted a three-pronged approach to meet the VPT targets and increase the number of subscribers in the state. It offers telephone connections based on wireless in local loop, CoreDect technology and the age-old fibre optic cables.

The company uses wireline and WiLL-based services in commercial areas, corporate and dense residential areas, while it uses CoreDect in residential areas, moderately dense and rural areas. It offers umbrella services using the code division multiple access technology (CDMA) for providing rural coverage across large areas and also to provide mobility.

“WiLL and Core Dect are the best technologies for village public telephones. We can increase the speed of setting up the VPTs if the government comes forward and gives us the necessary financial support either from the Universal Service Obligation (USO) fund or any other mechanism,” said Rajeev Mehrotra, chairman of Shyam Telecom.

“Some of the villages in the state are 15 kilometres from the nearest approach road and a few have not yet seen a telephone. We have created a cross-functional ‘accelerated VPT project’ in the organisation, which will cover more and more villages,” he added.

Company executives pointed out the major hurdles in the implementation of VPT included distance and costs. About 60 kilometres need to be covered to connect a village from the nearest district headquarters and the cost-based tariff set by the regulator also makes it unviable. In addition, there is the unavailability of power. The USO fund is also still not available to the private operators to cover the shortfall.

“We have been pleading with the telecom regulator for more than four years to finalise the access deficit charge but no action has been taken yet,” said a senior company executive.

Mehrotra said the company was committed to the objective of social responsibility. “We have also provided free telephones at hospitals, police stations, fire stations and also at many religious places in the state. The trusts and committees of these places do not have to pay for rentals or airtime,” he said.

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