The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Siliguri on BSNL radar to ease load

Siliguri, Oct. 3: The mobile service and Internet connectivity scenario in the Siliguri region will change for the better by the end of next month, if the announcements and assurances of BSNL bosses here are to be believed.

The bane of the existing Cellone cellular service in the region has been the uncertainty in getting through to the called number in a single attempt. Sometimes, during peak hours, getting a connection is virtually impossible because of the traffic congestion. So frustrating can the efforts be that many a subscriber was contemplating on a change of service provider.

But the situation will hopefully change for the better soon. According to the company seniors, including general manager (telecom) S.N. Banerjee and subdivisional engineer T.K. Deb, a new, independent mobile switching centre will start functioning in Siliguri from November.

This development would mean that the burden on the primary Salt Lake centre, now about a decade old, would lessen considerably, especially if another such centre comes up at Durgapur. The traffic of mobile calls in the West Bengal and Sikkim circle will henceforth be distributed. 'By next month, the problem of congestion will be taken care of as work on expansion is taking place here,' said Banerjee.

Asked why this event was not included in the several Puja offers made recently by the government-run cell service, especially when customers find the mobile phone so useful during the festive days, Deb replied: 'We will try to minimise the load during those five days by shifting some of the traffic to the Durgapur centre, which has already come up.'

The officials were speaking at a programme celebrating the fifth BSNL Day on Saturday. The GM also said GSM mobile PCOs would be in service soon, whereby dealers would have handsets through which callers, especially in rural, tower-served areas, would make local, national and international calls and pay according to the amount displayed on the mobile.

'The charges within the West Bengal and Sikkim circle will be Rs 1.50 per minute, while calls to other networks within the circle would be Rs 2. All STDs would be Rs 3 per minute, while calls to the US and UK would be Rs 8 per minute,' Banerjee said.

Ironically, as international calls get closer home, they get more expensive. 'A call to Europe through the GSM mobile PCOs would cost Rs 12 per minute, but those to SAARC countries, including Nepal and Bangladesh will cost Rs 15 per minute, as the per national policy,' he said.

On Internet connections and connectivity, the official said the setting up of an earth station at the Siliguri software technology park would facilitate broadband linking in the area. 'Already nine telephone exchanges in the Siliguri Telecom district are connected with broadband facilities. Nine more will be added soon. Just a call to the number 1957 and our personnel will install the Internet connection for free till the end of this month,' he said.

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