BSNL trips on tourist rush

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By OUR CORRESPONDENT in Darjeeling
  • Published 2.11.04
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Darjeeling, Nov. 2: It is peak tourist season in the hills and bad news for BSNL subscribers.

Over the last two weeks, cellphone users with a BSNL connection have been facing a harrowing time in trying to get connected.

The poor connectivity seems to be the resultant effect of the tourist rush. Many visitors descend on the town with roaming facilities, putting extra load on the BSNL services. The result is jammed connectivity.

Disgruntled BSNL subscribers said it was virtually impossible to get through to a BSNL number, not to speak of other service providers like Reliance and Hutch ? the new kid on the block.

?I have been using a BSNL mobile connection for the past two years and the service has never been so bad. I need to constantly keep in touch with my driver, who takes my clients on tours; but that has become impossible now. Over the past week, connectivity has gone for a toss. I think I dial at least 10 times before getting the number,? said Satish Gurung, a businessman.

Landline users are somewhat better off.

According to BSNL officers, ?congested lines? had become almost synonymous with the tourist season.

Faced with a deluge of complaints, the authorities have announced a major upgrade in infrastructure.

Even though the authorities could not tell how many calls the BSNL could handle in the region ? this depends on the vacant slots available at any given time both at the Base Transmitting Station and the Mobile Switching Centre (MSC), located at Salt Lake in Calcutta ? they confirmed that ?a major infrastructure uphaul? was on the cards.

S.K. Saha, deputy general manager, BSNL (Siliguri), said over phone: ?Right now, there is only one MSC at Calcutta, but we have two coming up at Siliguri and Durgapur soon. This will not only help us provide better connectivity but also quality service.?

The MSC at Siliguri will have a capacity of handling 4 lakh lines, which will be a major achievement for north Bengal, claimed the officer. With the installation of the MSC, the BSNL is likely to increase its customer base in north Bengal.

The telecom utility also plans to increase its number of Base Transmitting Station (BTS) across the region.

?Around 34 new BTS will come up in Siliguri while Darjeeling will have around 15 new BTS. Such stations will also be set up in places like Kalimpong, Kurseong and Mirik,? said Saha.

A survey of the region will be conducted very soon, he said, adding that upgrade work should be over within four months.