| All ears
New Delhi, Dec. 9: Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) today slashed STD call rates by 25 per cent from fixed-to-fixed telephone lines within a telecom circle, which is usually a state.
The call rate for these calls made over a distance of over 100 kms, but limited to the boundaries of the telecom circle, will be cut from Rs 2.40 paise per minute to Rs 1.80 per minute. The changes take place from December 15.
The decision to limit the new rates to a telecom circle means that for Calcutta Telephone consumers, a call from Paripur to Kalyani will now cost Rs 1.80 a minute, but that to Burdwan will cost Rs 2.40.
Calcutta Telephones covers an area of about 1,900 square kilometres and not the entire state of Bengal. The rest of the state comes under West Bengal Telephones.
Calcutta Telephones District provides telecommunication services in the city of Calcutta and adjoining areas of five districts Howrah, Hooghly, Nadia, North 24-Parganas and South 24-Parganas. It covers a population of about 1.3 crore, spread over an area of about 2200 sq. km, along the both sides of the Ganges.
The areas that fall under Calcutta Telephones are Tribeni, Kalyani in the West, Chinsurah, Bhadreswar, Serampore, Dankuni, Ghoshpara, Ranihat, Uluberia in the South, Nodhakhali, Amtala, Baruipur in East and Kamalgazi, Mukundapur, Topsia, Salt Lake, Jessore Road, Madhyamgram, Barasat, Bhatpara, Gayespur in the north.
West Bengal Telecom provides telecommunication services in the states of Bengal (excluding the area served by Calcutta Telephones) and Sikkim. It serves the population of about 6.55 crore in 22 districts over the area of about 93,648 sq. km. For the purpose of providing the services, the area has been divided into 14 LDCAs (Long Distance Charging Areas) and further sub-divided into 71 SDCAs (short distance charging areas).
Announcing the rate cut here today, BSNL chairman and managing director Prithipal Singh said the new rates had been initiated to help the growth of fixed-line telephones in spite of the tremendous spurt in the demand for mobile phones.
We will bring in more value-added services to attract customers to fixed line telephones, Singh added.
BSNL has registered a massive drop of 77.48 per cent in its net profit for fiscal 2002-03 at Rs 1,444 crore against Rs 6,412 crore last year. BSNL will seek a refund of Rs 1,100 crore from the government, as promised.
It has received Rs 2,300 crore against a total refund of Rs 3,400 crore.
Singh attributed the drop in net profit to increase in salaries, payment of arrears, pensions, leave travel concession and fuel cost for operating exchanges in rural areas.
The BSNL chief was optimistic that the company would be able to double net profits next year as these were one-time payments. BSNL registered a 5 per cent increase in its turnover during the financial year 2002-03 at Rs 25,892 crore against Rs 24,000 last year.
Singh also rejected the idea that customers are moving out of its service to private operators and claimed that those who have surrendered their phones are now taking back their connection.