The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bharat Sanchar joins freedom march

New Delhi, Feb. 20: Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd has picked up the gauntlet: subscribers of its cellular service, CellOne, are being offered free incoming calls from all telephony networks basic, cellular and limited mobility service from today till March 31.

The scheme is applicable to the subscribers under its promotional 325 plan. The pre-paid subscribers will get free incoming calls irrespective of the denomination of the coupon purchased by them. The BSNL overture is comes at a time when telecom operators across the country are slashing rates and offering freebies to attract subscribers before Reliance launches its limited mobility service in March.

The government-owned public sector company has 14.4 lakh mobile subscribers and expects to add another 10 lakh subscribers by March 31 through this scheme. It has set a target of adding another 30 lakh customers by the year-end.

BSNL has also decided to focus more on its cellular business in order to improve its financial performance.

It has finalised a tender to be floated for three million cellular mobile lines by next month. BSNL has revised its target upwards to provide full-fledged cellular mobile service in 1,041 towns as against 750 towns targeted earlier. It is already offering cellular service in 897 towns and 150 towns are to be added in the next two months.

BSNL also announced a slew of new value-added services for its basic service provider in order to woo back the 15 lakh subscribers it had lost to the competitors over the past two years. Some of the new services include cricket scores on telephone, participation in cricket world cup contests like Predikta, access to national and international news, astrology, and e-mail access through interactive voice response system.

These services are already available in a few cities, including Calcutta and will be extended to other cities during the year. BSNL will also expand the caller line identification based internet service currently available in Calcutta to other cities in April. The charge for this service will be Rs 6 per hour while the local call charge will continue to be levied for such a service.

The public sector telecom company is also planning to introduce broadband service on local loop. This will enable the basic telephone customers to get video on demand and high speed internet access. The customers will thus be able to simultaneously make a phone call, surf the net and watch TV on the same line. This service was launched in Calcutta as a pilot project. It will also be expanded to all the cities where the company offers its services.

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