The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Calcutta joins CellOne club

New Delhi, April 15: Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) has rejected the C-DoT exchange set-up in Calcutta for its cellular services and will soon call for open bids from the existing telecom equipment suppliers.

This is good news for Calcutta cellular subscribers of BSNL, who can now look forward to the prospect of getting all the benefits of CellOne.

BSNL’s CellOne service, launched by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Lucknow on October 19 last year, was not extended to this city.

Instead, Calcutta Telephones continued with its own mobile services with a different tariff plan from the CellOne rates.

BSNL had approached C-DoT to upgrade the switches installed by them in Calcutta, Madurai and Patna. It was completed within a month. This enabled the Calcutta users to roam and also receive SMS from CellOne users all over the country.

However, since CellOne decided to add new features to its mobile services, BSNL with existing switches could not offer it simultaneously.

“The switches offered by foreign companies are governed by the standards prescribed by European Standard Institute (ESI) and it will take us at least six to eight months to match them and offer the same quality,” a senior C-DoT official said.

“We had provided BSNL with the best equipment and software. The final decision to retain the switches rests with them. If they have decided to go ahead with the bids we cannot do much about it,” the official said.

Meanwhile, BSNL chairman and managing director Prithipal Singh has assured subscribers that there will not be any rise in the rates from May 1 as the standard tariff announced by the company last week has the interconnect user charge embedded into it.

“BSNL has introduced an alternative tariff package, with a view to equalising the existing tariff imbalances between the cellular and the fixed-line telephone users and the urban and the rural telephone users in a uniform and non-discriminatory manner,” said Singh.

BSNL had no plans to approach the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to seek a review of the IUC regime, he added.

BSNL is confident that by not raising the tariff of rental and not reducing the call rate from three minutes to two minutes in its alternative tariff packages, it will be able to attract customers to make more calls. The company is also confident that it will be able to reduce the estimated Rs 1,000 crore loss due to the introduction of IUC regime.

“We are confident that with the increase in volume of calls by 20-25 per cent the loss can be brought down to Rs 400-500 crore,” said S. D. Saxena, director (finance) of BSNL.

Email This Page