The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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SMS on the move, SMS stationary

New Delhi, July 22: Short messaging service — the mobile phone rage that knocked the bottom out of the greeting cards market — is all set to hammer the last nail in its coffin with fixed-line phones ready to offer the SMS. And at only a rupee per message.

The first fixed-line phone users who will be able to send SMS to each other will be customers of Bharti Teletech, as early as next week. Bharti Teletech runs basic services in six states, including Delhi.

By mid-August, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam’s fixed-line subscribers — Delhi and Mumbai — will also be able to do so.

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, the largest telephone service provider in the country with more than 4 lakh fixed-line subscribers, is expected to join the race soon.

The SMS for fixed phones has become possible because of a solution developed jointly by Bharti Telesoft and Bharti Teletech, which makes the systems of fixed-line service providers compatible to send and receive SMS.

The two companies have invested more than Rs 5 crore in developing the solution.

The SMS phones, which are priced at Rs 2,100, have been developed in China with Bharti’s international partner Rockway Industries of Hong Kong.

In addition to the existing features in an advanced fixed phone, the SMS-enabled instrument will have the ability to send and receive SMS with a three-line LCD display (12 characters per line). They will be able to store up to 50 messages in the inbox and the same number in the outbox. It will have a draft box to store incomplete messages and the option to set 160 or 640 characters per message.

It will support the English language with the use of both small and capital letters, symbols and numbers.

The phone will have the facility for read, reply, forward, lock, delete the received message and an indication for the new message.

Bharti Teletech today launched an SMS-enabled fixed phone with Bharti Telesoft providing the software.

“The solution will enable fixed-fixed, fixed-cellular and cellular-fixed SMS. We do not see it becoming a retail product immediately. But with service providers upgrading their technological capabilities, it will become a retail product,” Rakesh Bharti Mittal, vice-chairman and managing director of Bharti Teletech, said.

Across the world, SMS has proven to be a popular tool. For instance, 25 million messages were generated on the fixed-line service platform in Austria in the first year of the introduction of the SMS in 2002. Germany recorded 24 million SMS on its fixed-line service platform in the same year.

“In India, SMS has generated about 10-12 per cent of the total revenues,” said a senior Bharti Touchtel executive.

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