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Airtel integrates all operations under 'One Airtel'

NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel has consolidated all telecom businesses under an integrated structure "One Airtel" and appointed Manoj Kohli as president of the unified management structure.

"The new structure will help us transition towards a customer focused organisation while building sustainability and scalability to seamlessly manage 100 million customers and beyond," Bharti Chairman Sunil Mittal said in a statement.

Mittal said the new organisation was designed to enable strong corporate governance whilst ensuring operational freedom, through functional and matrix reporting relationships. The new organisation structure was pursuant to the company's vision announced in October last year of making Airtel, the most admired brand in India by 2010, it said.

Call anywhere in India for one rupee!

NEW DELHI, Feb 11: Believe it or not, people in India can now call from one end of the country to another for just Rupee 1 a minute. The revolutionary scheme called One India Plan, launched by state-run telecom units Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) Friday, is expected to increase the frequency of subscriber trunk dialing (STD) and make it more affordable for the rural population.

BSNL chairman A.K. Sinha and MTNL chief R.S.P. Sinha unveiled the plan at a joint press conference here, saying the new rates would be effective from March 1. While a local BSNL or MTNL call from a fixed line to any other fixed line would cost Re.1 every three minutes, any other call including long-distance STD calls would cost Re.1 per minute. The latter category will include calls to a mobile network.

While customers can continue availing their existing plans, the One India plan can be opted for at a monthly rental of Rs.299 per month. At present an STD call from a BSNL/MTNL fixed line costs Rs.2.40 per minute while a similar outstation call to a mobile costs Rs.3. Both the companies charge Rs.1.20 per three minutes for a local call to a fixed line. The existing rentals are however range between Rs 120 to 250 a month.

'The new plan will enable customers of BSNL and MTNL to call from one end of India to the other, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, for Re.1 per minute,' A.K. Sinha said. 'This will mark the death of distance and STD. STD will now be history. 'This is a win-win situation for the company as well as for customers,' MTNL chairman Sinha said.

S.D. Saxena, director of finance, BSNL, said: 'We might stand to lose a major chunk of our revenue on the face of it, but we expect the volumes of calls to go up substantially, which would compensate the new package.'

Though the pruning of the long distance calls are likely to cost the state owned telecom majors a whopping Rs 3,000 crore (Rs 30 billion), the government hopes to compensate the deficit with an anticipated increase in the volume of calls. The BSNL chief cites the example when during 2001 the STD rates were brought down from a whopping Rs 24 per minute to Rs 9. 'The volumes of calls increased nine times,' Sinha recalls.

The government now expects a growth at the rate of 20 million new fixed subscribers annually for which its planning to expand the optic fibre network from 400,000 kilometers to 1 million kilometers. BSNL and MTNL together had 40.70 million fixed line subscribers as on December 2005.

Meanwhile, the mobile service providers, who are expected to affect cuts in their call rates to cope up with the BSNL/MTNL move, have welcomed the step. Terming it as revolutionary, the Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI) said it would be beneficial for the rural consumers as lower STD rates will enhance their productivity.

T.V. Ramachandran, director general COAI, said that this initiative by Communications & IT Minister Dayanidhi Maran, would lead to an explosion in long distance traffic as it had made STD calls affordable and within reach of each and every citizen in the country. He added that One India was the brilliant culmination of an exercise initiated by the minister in May 2005 to demolish entry barriers for long distance calls within the country.

Stamp on Sardar Pratap Singh Kairon

NEW DELHI, Oct 1: The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has described Sardar Pratap Singh Kairon, former Chief Minister of Punjab as a great visionary and an architect of modern Punjab, who played a pivotal role in emerging Punjab as the most developed and a front-runner state on map of our country.

Paying glorious tributes to Sardar Kairon on the occasion of the release of a commemorative postage stamp in the memory of a great son of India, Capt Singh said that Sardar Kairon had to undertook a daunting task of the rehabilitation of lacs of migrants as a result of Indo-Pak partition in 1947, and pioneered a mammoth exercise of land reforms in the state.

He also transformed the agriculture scenario of the state by establishing a Punjab Agriculture University at Ludhiana that ushered in green revolution and saved the entire country from the humiliation of food aid (PL-480) when our Central Government resorted to begging bowl to import food grains from USA. This green revolution enabled us to attain self-sufficiency in food production and changed economic scenario of the State and the country forever. His outstanding contribution for setting up a PGI at Chandigarh and Industrial town at Faridabad would be ever remembered by one and all. He along with late Pt.Jawahar Lal Nehru the first Prime Minister of India, who dreamt of modern India, played a crucial role in setting up Bhakra Dam- the temple of modern India.

Capt Singh said that it was really an auspicious occasion when the Government of India took a bold initiative to honour Sradar Partap Singh Kairon with the issue of a commemorative postage stamp. Capt Singh also cited few instances of his family ties with Sardar Pratap Singh Kiaron when the latter along with his mother mobiliszed the people of Punjab for India's defence in the wake of the war with China spoke volumes of his deep concern and firm commitement to India's unity and integrity.

Mr Surinder Singh Kairon son of Late Sardar Pratap Singh Kairon urged upon Capt Singh to instal the portrait of Sardar Pratap Singh Kairon in the gallery of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha and Capt Singh assured the family members of Sardar Kairon that it would be installed forthwith.

Speaking on the occasion Dr.Shakeel Ahmed,Minister of State for Communication and IT said that Sardar Pratap Singh Kairon's innings in public life have been long and varied-freedom fighter, social reformer, champion of the downtrodden and a very able Chief Minister of Punjab. He was also a tireless crusader against communalism, economic disparities and social injustice.

"Truly speaking he was one of the most dynamic personalities of modern India who distinguished himself both as a great freedom fighter and as a brilliant administrator," said Mr Ahmed. The postage stamp being released today was a unique tribute to the truly inspiring leadership and vision of Sardar Pratap Singh Kairon and ensured that he was remembered by the generations to come.

On the occasion, paying homage to Sardar Kairon, former Prime Minister of India, I.K.Gujral said that he was a staunch believer of and communal harmony and national unity. He said that most of the people only knew his concern for the overall development and growth of Punjab but were totally ignorant about his passion for the freedom struggle. To substantiate his claim he cited an example of Sardar Kairon's spirit of patriotism and nationalism to the core when he was in prison along with his father.

Besides the family members of the Kairon including his son Mr Surinder Singh Kairon and grand sons Adesh Pratap Singh Kairon, Mr Gur Pratap Singh Kairon and Uday Pratap Singh Kiaron, the others present included Congress General Secretary, Mrs Amika Soni, Maharani Perneet Kaur, Member Parliament Lok Sabha from Patiala, Mr M.S.Gill, Member Parliament, Rajya Sabha, Mr BIS Chahal, Advisor to Chief Minister Punjab, Mr H.S.Hanspal, former President PPCC and the senior retired and serving bureaucrats of the Punjab Government and several dignitaries from different walks of life.

VSNL slashes international bandwidth tariffs

MUMBAI, Aug 16: VSNL on Tuesday cut international bandwidth prices by up to 45 per cent, a move that will give relief to massive bandwidth users like BPOs, call centres and IT companies.

With the slash in tariff, the sixth in the last four years, prices of half circuit international private lines (IPLC) have come down from Rs 40 Lakh in 2001 to Rs 11 Lakh for E1 (2Mbps), from Rs 725 Lakh to Rs 114 Lakh for DS3 (45 Mbps) and from Rs 21 crore to Rs. 3.30 crore for STM-1 (155Mbps).

These prices are for restorable capacities between India and the US on the Tata Indicom cable, VSNL said in a statement. The company claimed that this latest drop in international bandwidth prices, marks a whopping 84 per cent reduction in four years. VSNL's recent initiatives of building the Tata Indicom Cable and completing the TGN acquisition have provided it with greater control on international bandwidth cost components.

VSNL had already reduced prices by about 48 per cent on the Tata Indicom Cable in the six months since the cable was put into service.

Three million phone additions in July: TRAI

NEW DELHI, Aug 9: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) today said that the subscriber base for telephone services in the country accelerated in July, with 2.72 million subscribers being added. "The monthly additions are thus getting close to three million a month," TRAI said.

The gross subscriber base consisting of fixed as well as mobile users have touched 107 million with the tele-density going up to 9.86, TRAI said.
For the mobile segment, 2.45 million subscribers were added during July 2005 compared to 1.98 million in the same month last year. In the fixed segment a total of 0.27 million were added during July 2005. They were predominantly WLL(F). During the first four months of the current financial year approximately 1.26 million fixed subscribers have been added. With this, the total subscriber base of fixed lines has reached 47.17 million.

During the month under consideration, CDMA operators have added 8.77 lakh subscribers -- a growth of 4.90 per cent against the earlier growth of 5.58 per cent. The above addition of subscribers is with 57 networks, which also includes BSNL

BSNL cuts broadband tariffs by up to 50pc

NEW DELHI, Aug 9: In less than a year of launching services, state-owned BSNL today reduced tariffs of broadband by up to 50 per cent, besides offering other concessions in order to popularise the service. For home plan, BSNL has reduced tariffs to Rs 250 a month from Rs 500, while one-time charges have been slashed to Rs 1,200 as against Rs 2,000, the company said in a statement.

For its business plan subscribers, the company has cut the monthly tariffs by over one-third to Rs 750 from existing rate of Rs 1,200 a month.

BSNL will also provide 300 Wi-Fi "hot spots" or wireless broadband across the country in 24 cities by August-end, the company said. The tariffs, which would be in force for three months, would allow users free access on Sundays. During this period, the regular tariffs which start from a minimum of Rs 20 per session for pre-paid and Rs 10 for post-paid members will not be applicable, BSNL said.

These "hot spots" are wireless access points for Internet around public sites like hotels, airports, bars and coffee shops. The wireless local area network (WLAN) will allow people with laptops and a wireless LAN PC cards to use and receive data at broadband speed near these spots.

The telecom major is also setting up 10 base stations of Wi-Max or wireless broadband used for a wider area, officials said, adding these tariffs for hot spot type is applicable for public utility services like airports, railway stations, universities and their campus initially for a period of 90 days from the date of its launch.

BSNL mobiles cross 10 million mark

NEW DELHI, June 18 : BHARAT Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has crossed the magic figure of 10 million (one crore) landmark in its mobile subscriber base.
Out of this 10 million connections, 1.6 million are in Eastern Zone, 2.10 million in Western Zone, 2.60 million in Northern Zone, and 3.70. million in Southern Zone. It is planned to add 4 million mobile subscriber base in each quarter progressively during the current financial year.

BSNL launched its mobile phone services on October 19, 2002. It has its foot print across the country covering all the district headquarters, most of the important national highways, state highways, important tourist and pilgrimage centres. There has been an unprecedented demand for CellOne services of BSNL with its ubiquitous presence across the country along the highways, along the railways, which resulted in the capacities rolled out getting exhausted within the first year of its operation.

BSNL will also be introducing new technologies on the wireless front to enable broadband services to be available through the wireless media. To a limited extent the data services on the mobile will the available on GPRS, which will get augmented further, by EDGE technology in district headquarters as a part of 15 million lines roll out. BSNL has also sought additional spectrum for introducing 3G services and future plans are proposed to be made on the 3G front which will enable convergence of services.

BSNL launches cellular expansion from J&K

SRINAGAR, May 31: Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has used the ebbing of violence in Jammu & Kashmir to launch a major expansion plan of cellular services in north India. In all, the company plans to introduce three crore additional lines over the next two years. Putting the expansion in perspective, this will be equal to the total lines added all over the country in the past 50 years, both landline and wireless.

Speaking on the occasion on Tuesday, the Union Communications and Information Technology Minister, Dayandihi Maran, underlined the point about choosing Srinagar to launch BSNL's cellular mobile expansion. "With improvement and more widespread communication facilities, the people of J & K can more fully interact with their brethren in other parts of the country."

Mr. Maran was confident of the mobile roll-out contributing to economic development, especially because BSNL's expansion was taking place in areas shunned as non-profitable by private cellular companies.

The J & K Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, said tourism and the sense of security among the people would improve with the expansion of mobile services.
Mobile phones had allayed apprehensions back home after two tourist hot spots of Dal Gate and Phalagam had witnessed violent incidents. "There were great security apprehensions but the reality has proved otherwise. I am glad Kashmir was chosen as the launching pad."

The BSNL Chairman and Managing Director, A. K. Sinha, declared his company's intention to modernise the existing network and leverage new technologies to further improve the delivery of services.

"Now we are four to five months behind the developed world in introducing new technologies,'' he said, adding that Wi-Fi (busy places such as airports and hotels where Internet can be accessed without wires) would be available in 24 cities at 300 hotspots and pilot projects on Wi-Max (said to be an improvement over Wi-Fi) would be undertaken in ten cities, including Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata and satellite towns of Delhi and Mumbai. In addition, the long distance network would see the introduction of the latest technologies.

Nokia to produce base station controllers in Chennai

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, May 31: The Finnish telecom major, Nokia, on Tuesday announced plans to manufacture part of mobile network infrastructure in Chennai. Last month, the company had said it was setting up its a mobile handset manufacturing unit, also in Chennai.

The new unit will further emphasize Nokia's end-to-end position and strength both globally and in India, as well as the company's end-to-end commitment to India.
"Nokia is confident of India's skilled labor force's ability to handle the manufacturing of high-end network infrastructure elements, such as Base Station Controllers. Chennai was a natural choice for us as we are already establishing a production facility there," said Simon Beresford-Wylie, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Networks, Nokia.

Both products will start rolling out in the first quarter of next year, according to Kari Sonali, Nokia Senior Vice President. The announcement follows the Union Communications and Information Technology Minister, Dayanidhi Maran's, exhortation to equipment manufacturers to make a part of the equipment being supplied to Indian phone service providers in the country itself. Mr. Maran had also indicated that BSNL might incorporate a clause in future tenders providing for the equipment to be manufactured in India.

Nokia is a major equipment supplier for BSNL's roll-out in the North. Sonali said the unit in Chennai would manufacture high-end base station controller (BSC), a high-end network infrastructure element. "With this, Nokia becomes the only telecom vendor in India to manufacture both network infrastructure and terminals in the country."

The announcement comes in the wake of fast expansion of networks in the Indian market based on aggressive plans of several GSM service providers over the next few years.

"India is already amongst the top 5 telecom markets in the world and is set to reach the third position in the next few years. In order to sustain this growth, rapid expansion of mobile networks will be essential. Nokia's investment in local Base Station Controller manufacturing aims to meet this requirement and reiterates its long standing commitment to India," said Beresford-Wylie. He added, "Base Station Controller manufacturing is high end and complex and will allow us to tap into the talented engineering pool in India, in addition to creating additional employment."

Nokia's operations in India now include three Research and Development facilities and an upcoming manufacturing facility in Chennai that will produce both terminals and GSM infrastructure equipment. The end-to-end operations strengthen Nokia's complete solution offering and uniquely position it to work with Indian operators to reduce time to market for both network equipment and terminals and achieve the Government's target of 200 million mobile subscribers by 2008.

Nokia is a world leader in mobile communications, driving the growth and sustainability of the broader mobility industry. Nokia connects people to each other and the information that matters to them with easy-to-use and innovative products like mobile phones, devices and solutions for imaging, games, media and businesses. Nokia provides equipment, solutions and services for network operators and corporations.

BSNL cuts ISD rates

NEW DELHI, May 18: In its highest ever cut in international call charges, the State-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited on Tuesday announced a 33 per cent reduction in tariffs for several countries, including the entire Gulf region, Africa and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) nations.

Making this announcement to mark the World Telecommunications Day celebrations in the capital, the BSNL Chairman and Managing Director, Mr Sinha, said call rates to Australia, New Zealand, Africa, the Gulf nations and all SAARC countries would be cut from existing Rs. 18 a minute to Rs. 12 a minute, a flat 33 per cent reduction.

Stating that the reduced rates would be applicable from the midnight of May 20, Mr. Sinha said the reduced rates would be applicable in respect of all BSNL subscribers - fixed phones, cellular and wireless-in-local-loop phones.

Euronews launched in India

By Sushma Arora

NEW DELHI, May 6: Move over BBC and CNN, EuroNews is here. The Europe's leading multilingual news channel that covers world news from a European perspective in 7 languages has launched its service in India through Dishtv - the Direct-to-Home satellite service.

The channel was officially launched here by Mr. Dominique Girard, Ambassador of France to India, along with the Ambassadors of Switzerland, Italy, Portugal, Russia and Spain, the Chargé d'Affaires of Ireland, the Head of the Delegation of the European Commission as well as Mr. Philippe Cayla President of EuroNews and Mr. Sunil Khanna, CEO of DishTV.

Commenting on how the channel is different, the President EuroNews, Mr Philippe Cayla, said "we are international news channel where we do not have nationalistic news. We do not take sides of any one nation."

Mr Cayla said "in Europe people prefer EuroNews to BBC or CNN as we are not an opinion channel. We give picture of the news to our viewers and the people have to form their own opinion. We appeal to the intellectual side of a person."

EuroNews, launched on 1st January, 1993 as the first multilingual pan-European news channel, has over the years established itself as Europe's most watched and distributed international news channel, reaching 155 million households in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and North and South America via cable, digital satellite and terrestrial channels. It provides updated news bulletins every 30 minutes in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

Based in Lyon, France, 160 journalists working in each of the channel's 7 languages join hands to report the latest news and provide in-depth coverage of international political, economic, cultural and sporting events.

In India now nearly 2,00,000 subscribers to Dishtv can have 24-hour access to EuroNews in all 7 languages, on Dishtv Channel No.527. The channel enjoys an unrivalled source of news footage, allowing journalists to compare, analyze and then report all opinions avoiding any national viewpoint. As a fully independent channel, EuroNews is completely free from any political, religious or territorial influences, said Mr Cayla.

Euronews enjoys a strong relationship with European institutions. The channel is at the heart of European affairs and is uniquely positioned to deliver a deep understanding of European issues and debates shaping the continent.

Constantly updated news bulletins every 30 minutes, latest sports and business news, regular updates on European affairs, weather forecast. Besides, EuroNews also brings a wide range of current affairs programs featuring interviews, debates with key European personalities, reviews on the latest developments in science and technology as well as lifestyle programs including the latest in cinema, fashion and the arts.

DishTV is India's first Direct-to-Home (DTH) entertainment service that will revolutionize TV viewing to the country. The cutting edge technology of DishTV allows one to access a variety of digital television channels directly from the satellite, making television viewing a new experience, said Mr Sunil Khanna, CEO of DishTV.

With a total offering of 115 TV and 13 radio channels, Mr Khanna said DishTV brings the power of choice. One can get to experience digital entertainment in your language, in packages that suit your preference and to fit your budget. DishTV is an Essel Group venture. The Group, the foundation of which was laid way back in 1976, has metamorphosed into a conglomerate embracing new technology and versatile forms of entertainment. It has a vast range of national and global business interests that include media programming, broadcasting and distribution, packaging, entertainment, online gaming and telecom.

Latest hit on music charts: Osama

BANGALORE, May 12: US President George W Bush may not like it but Osama bin Laden is rocking the Kannada film music charts! "Bin Laden nan maava, Bill Clinton nan bhaava (Bin Laden is my uncle, Bill Clinton is my brother-in-law)" - that's the opening line of a song from the yet-to-be-released "Jogi".

The film's audio has been released far in advance of director Prem's much-awaited release. The song is an "item" number featuring Yana Gupta. This is not the first time bin Laden has figured in a Kannada film audio. He did so earlier in another song written by matinee idol Upendra for "Appu", in which Puneet Raj Kumar debuted.

The song went: "Bin Laden alve allaa (Bin Laden shot through two huge buildings, I have shot through your heart)". The number became popular and may have prompted Prem, who also wrote the lyrics for "Jogi", to use the bin Laden name again. According to Prem, the lyric came to his mind after he had heard the tune and "the whole song was finished within five minutes.

Nokia unveils N series handsets

By Deepak Arora

KUALA LUMPUR, April 28: Nokia on Thursday launched its new series of phones aimed at the top-end business user market, with handsets sporting music playing and web browsing facilities and at least a two mega pixel camera. The handsets are 3G compatible and run using the Series 60 Symbian-based interface.

Nokia announced the launch of three 'N Series' devices during its 'Next Generation' showcase here, bringing fusion of digital media and mobility. The devices will hit the market during the current quarter and will be followed by more products by the end of this year.

Nokia Asia Pacific Vice President (Multimedia) Mauro Montanaro said: "With Nokia N Series phones, consumers can now use a single device for taking print quality images, reading e-mail, listening to music and watching TV."

Nokia N70 3G phone boast of all the N Series core features. It is kitted out with music playing facilities, a two mega pixel camera with a 20x digital zoom and web browsing facilities. Running on Nokia's Series 60 platform it supports e-mail, can open many file types and comes with an FM radio on board. It has two cameras so it can deliver 3G video calling, features an integrated speaker and has Bluetooth connectivity.

N90 has a twist and shoot rotating camera concept. It has a macro option, an autofocus, flash and a 20x digital zoom. The phone also grabs video too in MPEG4 and 3GP formats and has an 8x digital zoom. There's a second camera too so the phone can be used for person to person video calling.

Nokia's N91 four giga hard disk music phone has a 4 Gigabyte hard disk on board. It has MP3 and AAC playback, a remote control in its accompanying earphones and features an FM tuner. It sports a 3.5mm headphone jack and has a battery life of 12.5 hours as a music player.

Combat child porn on Net, urges expert

GENEVA, April 14: Governments must do more to combat Internet child pornography, which is flourishing in many countries within a legal vacuum that fails to address the threat, a United Nations expert said on Wednesday. Many countries have yet to pass laws making the distribution and possession of such material illegal, according to Juan Miguel Petit, the UN special investigator on child prostitution and pornography.

"It is not easy for a country to speak openly of the dark side of a society -- the dark side of human nature," Petit, a Uruguayan lawyer said. "The place where this problem is not spoken of, is where it is most likely to develop." But the "nearly unlimited freedom" of the Internet is making proliferation much more widespread and threatens thousands of innocent children worldwide, Petit said, adding that most child porn consumers are in fact middle-class or upper middle-class males.

Petit told the 53-nation UN Human Rights Commission that countries should outlaw the production or possession of child pornography material; make Internet service providers responsible for monitoring illegal material; and ensure that laws protect all children under 18.

He said that the problem was becoming particularly acute in developing countries, where children are being lured - often with parental consent - to pose naked or semi-naked for illegal photo agencies, who then post the material on websites.

Petit said it was impossible to name which countries produced the most material, but that in the United States alone hundreds of websites were generating millions of dollars each month distributing child pornography.

Nokia selects Chennai for manufacturing mobile devices in India

NEW DELHI, April 6: Nokia today announced that it will set up a manufacturing facility for mobile devices at Chennai in India. The manufacturing unit in Chennai will be Nokia's tenth mobile device production facility globally. Nokia anticipates investing an estimated USD 100-150 million in the India production plant.

"Establishing a new factory in India is an important step in the continuous development of our global manufacturing network. We selected Chennai to be the location for the factory thanks to the availability of skilled labor, friendly business environment, support from the state government, good logistics connections and overall cost-efficiency," said Pekka Ala-Pietilä, President, Nokia.

Nokia's new facility in Chennai is in the state of Tamil Nadu in the southern part of India. The construction work at the site of the manufacturing unit will start in April and production is expected to begin in the first half of 2006. Nokia foresees ramping up the factory gradually and the work force reaching approximately 2,000 employees when production is full scale.

Mobile penetration in Asia Pacific is expected to be a major contributor to the global mobile subscriber base surpassing the two billion mark by the end of 2005. Therefore, India which is set at the heart of the region where mobile communications is growing rapidly was a natural location of choice for the new production facility.

In India, Nokia is the market leader in mobile devices. Nokia maintains sales, marketing, customer care, and research and development sites in the country. Nokia was recently recognized as the Brand of the year by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) as well as the most respected consumer durables company by the BusinessWorld magazine.

BSNL targets 1 m broadband connections by end-2005

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, March 18: BSNL is targeting one million broadband connections by the end of the year, according to Mr A K Sinha, Chairman Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. Speaking to this correspondent, Mr Sinha said as many as 30,000 broadband connections would have been given by March 31 in 15 cities. He agreed the target was short of 50,000 broadband connections proposed earlier. But he said this was due to initial teething problems that have been sorted out to a large extent.

The Chairman said BSNL has fixed a target of 2 million for the year 2006 and 3 million broadband connections by 2007. He said the company has already ordered equipment for 9 lakh connections to achieve its target for 2005. It is sourcing sourced such equipment from two companies including UTStarcom Inc. Mr Sinha said the tender for 4 million lines would be floated in next month or two.

Broadband has been defined as an always-on data connection supporting interactive services including Internet access with minimum download speed of 256 Kbps per subscriber. The BSNL, India's largest telecoms firm by sales, had launched on January 14 the Broadband services in four cities of Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Kolkata under the brand name "Data One". The Chairman said "we have now expanded our broadband network in 15 cities and plan to reach 198 cities by the year end."

With DataOne, BSNL has completely changed the way of communication. With a minimum speed of 256 Kbps surfing the Internet is much faster than dial-up. The technology called ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) allows both surfing and downloading at an amazing speed. This technology enables the subscriber to surf the net and have a phone conversation simultaneously.

On the rural telephony, Mr Sinha said the company plans to spread its wings in all the nooks and corners of the country soon. By June, 2006, 98 per cent of the country would be brought under phone network. As of today, 70,000 villages do not have phone connections. "We shall connect all the rural India no matter what the cost is. We shall wireless, digitial satellite networks and other technologies to reach all of rural India."

Mr Sinha said that his company has set aside an allocation of Rs 150 crore for setting up Digital Satellite phone terminals (DSPT) in 14,000 inaccessible villages of the country by December 2006. Mr Sinha said that the state-owned company has already got a mandate for the job from the Department of Telecommunications.

He said that one terminal would be put up in each of 14,000 villages at a cost of about Rs.1 lakh for which a part of funding will be provided to BSNL from the USO Fund. After the target of 14,000 digital satellite phone terminals is achieved, BSNL will increase the number of villages to the extent of 17,000 for setting up DSPT in rural parts of the country, he said.

President, Integrated Network Solutions, Lucent Technologies Inc., USA, Ms. Janet Davidson feels that India offered high potential for connectivity in both rural and urban areas. According to her, estimated addressable market today stands between 140 million to 200 million for which the telecom companies are in competition to capture the large chunk of the Indian rural market.

Govt instructs broadband service providers to keep download speed above 256 Kbps

NEW DELHI, March 17: The Government has strictly warned the Telecom operators, who indulge in marketing or posing to provide broadband services at download speed of 64 Kbps, 128 Kbps, etc., to refrain from such activities/publicising advertisements as these types of services will not come under the category of Broadband services.

In other words, any download speed which is at 256 Kbps or more can alone be termed as Broadband Services. Therefore, the Telecom Operators should not mislead the consumers by making such advertisements or adopt any marketing tactics which would defeat the very purpose of providing Broadband services.

The Department of Telecommunications, in its communication issued to all Telecom Operators, has reiterated that branding or naming services with less than 256 Kbps download speed is not in accordance with the Broadband Policy announced in October, 2004 wherein the broadband connectivity has been defined as "always-on-minimum" download speed of 256 Kbps. The operators, while marketing such services, should keep in mind that only always-on download speed of 256 Kbps or above are termed as Broadband services.

Maran asks BSNL to capture larger market share

JAIPUR, March 11: The Government wants BSNL to take an active and aggressive role in pushing the tele-density in the country by providing at least 80 million phones in the run-up to meeting the target of 250 million phones by 2007.

"Currently we are 90 million in terms of total number of phones and a tele-density of nine per cent. Most of the new connections of the last few years have been provided by private sectors. I want BSNL to be more aggressive and capture at least 50 per cent of the market share in providing new connections in our efforts to have 250 million phones by 2007," Communication and IT Minister Dayanidhi Maran, said here.

"Since we are already 90 million, to meet the target, we need to have another 160 million phones. Out of this 160 million I want BSNL to provide at least 80 million phones," he said. Over the past few years, BSNL had just contributed 20 per cent to the total new connections.

Maran was also bullish on broadband services saying by the end of third quarter of the year the "real broadband boom" will happen. "We are (BSNL and MTNL) doing extremely good on broadband. In fact BSNL's waiting list is 1.5 lakh at present. I believe the broadband will stabilize by the last quarter or the first quarter of the next year when price war will start leading to still lower rates as was seen the mobile telephony case.

"Free PCs will be offered with broadband connections," he said adding these possibilities would drive the usage of broadband in a much larger way.
The Minister said the year 2005 would be very good for the Indian telecom sector. He said telecom manufacturing has started picking up. Many global majors like Alcatel, LG, Nokia and Elcoteq have shown their interest to set up base in India.

Maran said among three things he would like to see happen in the Indian telecom sector are operators going to rural areas, increase in connections and raising the quality of service in terms of customer satisfaction. "Teledensity has to go up and more in rural areas from the current 1.6 per cent," he said.

India has 9 phones for every 100 people

By Sushma Arora

NEW DELHI: India's teledensity - phones per 100 people - touched nine at the end of February, telecom regulator Trai has said. It means that there are, on average, nine phones for every 100 people. This is a good indicator of the country's economic and infrastructure growth. Ten years ago, when the telecom sector was opened to private participation, India's teledensity was 0.8, or less than one phone for 100 people.

Of the total 97.03 million phone connections in India by February end, 51.44 million were mobiles - both GSM as well as CDMA - and 45.59 million were landlines. India has 1.08 billion people. During the 11 months of current fiscal, 20.85 million subscribers joined India's telecom networks, riding the big growth in cellular telephony, which saw 17.84 million additions. In February, 2.11 million subscribers were added to telecom networks.

Of these, 1.67 million were came on to mobile networks - 1.13 million on GSM and 0.54 million on CDMA. Landline additions were about 0.39 million.
Interestingly, for the first time, Trai gave out subscriber additions of broadband - the government's new thrust area. There were 50,000 broadband connections in India at the end of December, when BSNL and MTNL launched initiatives to push the service. Industry estimates suggest that during January and February, 2,00,000 more subscribers have been added, largely on account drastic tariff cuts.

Telecom Plan outlay up 22 pc, support to BSNL rises 46 pc

NEW DELHI, March 1: With increased focus on telecom services as a thrust area of infrastructure, Government has raised the total Plan outlay of Department of Telecom by 21.79 per cent over last fiscal to Rs 11,801.01 crore in 2005-06. State-run BSNL, which has been entrusted with the task of connecting the rural India in a major way, has been given a major chunk of this outlay at Rs 9,696 crore, an increase of over 46 per cent.

The telecom service PSU MTNL gets a lower support at Rs 1,887 crore for the current fiscal against Rs 2,220 crore in the last fiscal. C-DoT, a telecom research organisation, has been provided for Rs 49.40 crore. In the last two fiscals, the allocation for C-DoT was nil. With DoT encouraging R&D in telecom, C-DoT is expected to play a bigger role.

Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram has proposed Rs 1,200 crore for 'USO Fund' for rural telecom connectitivy. But the money for 'USO Fund' comes from the Consolidated Fund of India. Operators contribute five per cent of their gross revenue towards USO Fund. The Budget 2005-06 has taken cellphones out of tax filing obligation.

Besides mobile phones, the Budget 2005-06 has also taken note of the tele-density in the country, currently at 8.75 per cent, and has expressed concern at the low rural tele-density. The Budgetary allocation for Universal Service Obligation of the Government to provide telephone connectivity in remote and rural areas, however, remains flat at Rs 1,200 crore in 2005-06, the same as last fiscal.

Total TV wins hearts of Delhi-ites

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, Feb 20: Total TV, India's first satellite-based city specific local channel for Delhi and its satellite towns, was launched on Saturday. Speaking in an exclusive interview, Vinod Mehta, Director, Total TV, and Shailesh, Channel Head, said that Total TV was the first neighbourhood channel, a popular concept abroad, for Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR).

"It's free to air 24-hour digital channel," said Vinod Mehta. He admitted that at present they had no competition but added that there was room for more than one neighbourhood channel.

Shailesh said that the Total TV was launched with a brand new concept of a local news, information and entertainment for Delhi and its satellite towns like Gurgaon, Fraidabad, Sonipat and Panipat in Haryana and Noida, Greater Noida and Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh. He said the NCR region has a population of over 15 million but does not have its own voice as all other channels have their own national agenda for contents. Similary, the country has regional channels but those for big clusters.

"In Delhi alone 23 lakh homes out of 27 lakh have a television connection. As many as 16 lakh homes have cable TV. It is for this reason we have started our first neighbourhood channel from Delhi," said Shailesh.

In more ways then one, Vinod Mehta said Delhi and NCR combine represent the diversity, ethnicity and cultural ethos of whole of India then any other city in India. "Total TV will satisfy the hunger of viewer of Delhi and NCR region."

Mehta, journalist turned entrepreneur, said Total TV would capture "dilli ka dil" (heart of Delhi). "It is a total interactive channel. In other words, it is 'Janata ka channel,'" he added.

The channel emphasizes on local news, local information about train and flight timings, information on admissions to schools and colleges, job market, real estate, life style, consumer markets, hospitals et al. The information would help people organize their life in a better manner. The channel would also provide platform to local talent and celebrities.

"News relating to national and international developments is available on the ticker ( a moving strip towards the bottom of television screen)," said Shailesh.

Besides Mehta, Anil Gaba, a textile manufacturer and exporter, are promoters of Total Telefilms. Both hail from Haryana. Incidentally, Mehta and Gaba are second businessmen after Subhash Chandra from Haryana to enter the broadcast industry, a tough call for many.

It goes to the credit of Mehta that the channel has gone on the air in a short span of five months. Mehta and his partner, Gaba, started working on the concept from September 1 last year. There are several other channels such as S1, Jagran now renamed Channel 7, Times TV and Shakti Channel that have been planning to go on air for the past one and half to two years.

In the first year, the promoters are investing Rs 25 crore in the channel. "We hope to break even at the end of the first year," said Mehta. The channel has hired a staff of 125, out of which 75 are journalists. It has placed 35 cameras to cover Delhi alone.

Excited with warm response from the media industry and cable fraternity, Mehta said "our mission is to become a leading platform fro neighbourhood news, information and entertainment products, delighting viewers and providing value to the advertisers for their money and time." Based out of studios in the heart of Delhi, Connought Place, the channel's technology partners are Apple computers, USA and Building 4 Media/ Fork TV, Netherlands.

Canada, India sign pact to develop wireless technologies

NEW DELHI, Feb 5: Canada and India have entered into a collaboration that envisages development of new wireless technologies to link remote and rural areas. It paves that way for the researchers from the two countries to work together for coming out with viable and efficient technologies in broadband wireless networking.

A formal agreement has been signed by the Communication Research Centre, Canada, and India's Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT). The convergence of views between the countries in providing communication links for rural and remote areas paved the way for the collaboration.

Much like in Canada, the Indian Government has placed a significant emphasis on improving infrastructure for rural and remote areas. Rural areas in both the countries face significant challenges for which technology may provide some answers. There is realisation that the cost of establishing current infrastructure technologies, such as laying fibre optic cables to rural areas, could often be prohibitive.

Under the agreement, the CRC and C-DoT will be looking at the potential uses of a new technology developed in Canada - Microwave-Light Organised Network or MILTON. This technology is a lowcost wireless "last mile access solution." The technology takes broadband Internet from a central fibre optic cable and distributes it wirelessly through an antenna network over an area of several kilometres. Researchers from the C-DoT will be evaluating this technology for use in India.

On the occasion of signing the agreement, Vienna Rawat, acting president of the Communications Research Centre Canada, expressed the hope that this partnership would allow the two countries to further develop technologies that would bring communities closer and address the discrepancies in access.

Echoing her view, Vijay Madan, Executive Director of C-DoT, said that this partnership would provide mutual benefits through exchange of expertise, joint development of technologies and total solutions for the Indian and global market. "The proposed MoU between the C-DoT and the CRC would go a long way in developing technologies suitable for the booming broadband application market, including those for rural masses," he said.

India clears 74 per cent FDI in telecom

NEW DELHI, Feb 2: The Indian Government on Wednesday cleared the proposal to hike FDI cap in telecom sector to 74 per cent from the current 49 per cent, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said after Cabinet meeting. The Cabinet cleared the proposal to hike FDI in telecom sector, said Chidambaram. The Government had announced in the last budget that FDI cap would be hiked in telecom, civil aviation and insurance sectors.

While in civil aviation sector, the FDI cap was hiked from 40 to 49 per cent as proposed, telecom sector got into rough weather with the Left parties opposing the move on security concerns. Chidambaram also said the Cabinet has accepted the 12th Finance Commission recommendations "in toto". The Commission had submitted its report to the President on December 13, 2004 on devolution of central pool taxes to states during 2005-10. The Cabinet also cleared the National Electricity Policy, the Finance Minister said.

BSNL, MTNL launch Broadband in six cities

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, Jan 13: Public sector Telecom companies, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL), would launch their broadband services across the country from Friday, providing high-speed connectivity at tariffs ranging from Rs 500-43,000. The Union Communications and IT Minister, Mr Dayanidhi Maran, would inaugurate the services at Chennai. The services will also be launched simultaneously from Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Kolkata through video conferencing.

While BSNL would provide broadband services starting at 256 kbps in 198 cities spread across 24 telecom circles progressively by the end of March 2005, in Delhi and Mumbai, the services would be provided by MTNL.

BSNL under its brand name "Data One" will provide eight tariff plans, 4 each under Home Plan and Business Plan. The minimum monthly charges under the Home Plan range from Rs 500 to Rs 3,300 and Rs 1,200 to Rs 9,000 under Business Plan, depending on the bandwidth. MTNL will offer the services under "Tri Band" in eight tariff plans, monthly charges for which ranged from Rs 749 to Rs 42,999 with bandwidth spanning from 256 kbps to 2 Mbps with unlimited hour-free monthly usages.

MTNL is also offering a free 15-day trial plan (DSL-399) at Rs 399 at 256 Kbps download speed. To start with, MTNL is launching the service in areas under four telephone exchanges in Delhi. It plans to expand services to 40 exchanges by February end.

BSNL and MTNL have decided to provide 1.5 million connections by 2005 end, primarily based on ADSL technology leveraging the existing copper network. Private sector telecom operators are expected to provide the rest using various technology options. BSNL and MTNL have planned to invest more than Rs 350 crore for achieving their targets for the year 2005.

Broadband service will provide high speed Internet connectivity for various applications like web browsing and e-Commerce. In addition, the customer can avail himself of multi-cast video services, video on demand, bandwidth on demand and other value-added services.

The network for broadband service has been designed to permit triple play services -- video, voice and data to the customers. Broadband service would give a fillip to the growth of GDP and enhance the quality of life through societal applications including tele-education, tele-medicine, e-governance, entertainment as well as employment generation. The Broadband Policy 2004 envisages 3 million, 9 million and 20 million subscribers by end of 2005, 2007 and 2010 respectively.

BSNL, MTNL to take Rs 2,000 cr hit in the new ADC regime

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, Jan 12: The new ADC regime is going to have a huge impact on revenues of public sector telecom companies - BSNL and MTNL - that in turn is expected to affect the spread of rural telephony in the country. The new Access Deficit Charge (ADC) would reduce revenues of BSNL and MTNL to the extent of Rs 2,000 crore per annum. Of this BSNL would lose Rs 1,254 crore and MTNL, the telecom service provider in Delhi and Mumbai, would lose Rs 700 crore.

ADC is a levy paid by private operators to the BSNL for its rural operations. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had announced last Thursday that the new ADC regime would come into effect from February 1. The new rates are expected to lower tariffs on national and international calls. MTNL has said that it would file its protest against the new ADC regime with the TRAI.

BSNL, which provides telecom services all over the country except Delhi and Mumbai, is expected to put on hold several ongoing projects especially in the rural areas. It may be mentioned that BSNL is the only telecom service provider that is undertaking the socially desirable but economically unviable projects and making all out efforts to reach telecom services in rural areas. After Unified Access Service Licence was introduced, the private sector has shed all responsibility to provide rural telephony and the entire burden is now being borne by BSNL only.

A BSNL official said "this not only requires additional capital investment by BSNL but also affects its revenue because BSNL has to provide rural telephones at the tariff of Rs 50 per month only against the average cost based rental of Rs 361 per month." In addition, he said "the company provides more free calls and lower call charges for the rural customers so as to keep these services within affordable limit of our rural citizens. We have raised these concerns with TRAI from time to time."

The official said "the new ADC regime is likely to cause revenue loss of about Rs 1,254 crore per annum to BSNL as per provision made by TRAI which is of the order of Rs 5,000 crore per annum only." He said "as per BSNL's network cost, this ADC should be of the order of about Rs 11,200 crore per annum at the present number of lines. This will increase with more addition of rural telephones in the network."

He said "the new ADC regime will not only affect our development activities but will also adversely impact the roll out of our services in rural areas as well." It is worth mentioning that BSNL has incurred expenditure of the order of about Rs 40,000 crore from 2001 to 2004 in rural telephony and socially desirable projects and had ambitious plans for the current year and future as well to fulfil the Government objective to achieve the envisaged rural teledensity targets for overall economic growth of the country."

The official said "with the reduced revenues from ADC as per the new regime, BSNL may now have to review some of these projects, which may hamper growth of services in rural areas and of other socially desirable but economically unviable projects."

Soon after TRAI's announcement, major telecom players players like Bharti, Hutch and Reliance have said they would pass on the full benefits to their subscribers. TRAI has reduced the ADC component on the ISD calls by over 41 per cent to Rs 2.50 a minute from the existing rate of Rs 4.25 and by 62 per cent on STD calls beyond 50 km to 30 paise from the existing 80 paise.

Rates of local calls, whether cell to cell, cell to fixed line or fixed line to cell, are unlikely to undergo any change as the structure for ADC component for these has remained unchanged. TRAI also said fixed line operators like Bharti, Reliance and Tatas (other than BSNL) would retain ADC only on their outgoing calls. ADC on all other calls will be provided to BSNL, it added. "This will keep the ADC burden low, while also maintaining the overall ADC amount to BSNL and other fixed line operators unchanged," TRAI said in a statement.

BSNL to provide 6 m broadband connections by 2007

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, Jan 7: Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) would provide 6 million broadband connections in the next three years, according to Mr N.K. Mangla, company's Director (C&M). Speaking to this correspondent, Mr Mangla said BSNL would provide 1 million broadband connections by end of 2005. "Another 2 million connections will be added in 2006 and another 3 million in 2007," he said.

He said the company would firstly provide broadband in all urban areas and some rural areas. He said deeper penetration in rural areas was not possible because of low PC penetration. Broadband has been defined as an always-on data connection supporting interactive services including Internet access with minimum download speed of 256 Kbps per subscriber.

The BSNL, which provides services all over the country except Delhi and Mumbai, plans to initially launch the Broadband services in four cities namely Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Kolkata under the brand name "Data One" from January 14. "The reach will be gradually increased to 198 cities in the country," said Mr Mangla.

The Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL), which provides services only in Delhi and Mumbai, would be launching the Boradband under the name of "Tri Band" in the two metros on the same day.

The new broadband policy aims to target three million broadband subscribers and six million Internet subscribers with a timeframe of December 2005. By the end of year 2010, the policy aims to target 20 million broadband subscribers and 40 million Internet subscribers. Broadband penetration is low in India where only two in 10,000 people have a high-speed hook-up, compared with one in four in South Korea. Digital subscriber line (DSL) connections are the main route by which India expects to boost access. BSNL has sourced such equipment from UTStarcom and Huawei.

Apart from BSNL and MTNL, companies such as Bharti Tele-Ventures Ltd, and the Reliance and Tata business groups also provide Internet access.

The BSNL broadband network will consist of different sizes of Digital Subscriber Line Access multiplexers (DSLAMs) which represent first point of presence for broadband customers. The DSLAM shall provide access upto 20 Mbps based on ADSL/ ADSL 2plus ITU -T G992.1/G992.3 and G992.5. They are connected to LAN switches, which aggregate the traffic coming from all DSLAMs of a city into a Gigabit Ethernet link over dedicated fiber. The network shall be centrally managed from Network Operating Centres (NOC) located at two sites one of them being the master at Bangalore and the other disaster recovery site at Pune.

With DataOne, BSNL is geared to completely change the way of communication. With a minimum speed of 256 Kbps surfing the Internet would be much faster than dial-up. The technology called ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) will allow both surfing and downloading at an amazing speed. This technology will enable the subscriber to surf the net and have a phone conversation simultaneously.

Mr Mangla said BSNL has 35 million copper pairs in the country. It includes 22 million lines in urban areas and 13 million in rural areas. Another 5 million lines are provided by MTNL. He said in 198 cities there are 2,600 exchanges. The country has 37,000 telephone exchanges. Out of which, 28,000 are in villages and 9,000 in semi-urban areas.

Mr Mangla said DataOne would enhance applications in various fields such as tele-medicine, tele-education, scientific research and tele agriculture. Such a service will serve as a bridge between the developing and the developed, between the urban and rural divide and let people interact across the globe digitally.

BSNL will offer separate tariff packages for home and business. The home users can avail band width of minimum download speed of 256Kbps at Rs 500 per month without security deposit while business users will have to shell out Rs 1200 monthly with 2 months rental as security deposit. The DataOne broad band service for the home segment will have four monthly tariff plans of Rs 500, Rs 1000, Rs 1800 and Rs 3300 while the corporate users will have plans starting from Rs 1200, Rs 3000, Rs 5000 to Rs 9000 depending on the data speed, data download-upload limit and additional usage charges.

"in" Internet domain launched

NEW DELHI, Jan 6: Indian identity in cyberspace got a major boost on Thursday following the extension of the ".in" country code Internet domain name registry, launched by the Union Communications Minister, Dayanidhi Maran, in the presence of eminent industrialists in the Capital.

Developed by the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI),".in" will be the official Internet domain of India, Mr. Maran said. Owners of registered Indian trademarks or service marks, who wished to protect their identity, would be given the opportunity to apply for ".in" domain names before opening it up for the general public.

"Sunrise applications are being accepted from January 1 to 21 through four registrars - Direct 1, Good Luck Domains, Net4India Limited and Online NIC - followed by a silent period when applications would be scrutinised. The date for the opening of real-time (open registration for the general public) is February 16. The entire process of registration would be online and was likely to be completed within 24 hours," Mr. Maran said.

He said five-lakh Indian companies had been registered with other domain names and only 700 companies owned the ".in" domain. But now, more companies would be benefited from the new domain. The new facility, along with the proliferation of broadband, would make use of the Internet cheaper and easier, he added.

The new domain has already been adopted by 118 top Indian Government and private companies, including the Tata Group, the Bharti Group, TVS, MRF, Reliance, BSNL, MTNL, Indian Airlines, Air India, Wipro, Sun Network, Essar Group, HCL, The Hindu, the India Today Group, The Times Group, NDTV, the Hindustan Times, Moser Baer, UB Group, Sify and Satyam. Heads of these companies received certificates on the occasion from Mr Maran.

Ratan Tata of the Tata Group said the unique domain name would give his companies an identity that they never enjoyed and allow them to use it to their advantage.

Narrating how Airtel was not able to get it registered in ".com" domain as it had been allotted to a European company, Sunil Mittal of the Bharti Group said with its new domain name, his company now truly represented India. Other business leaders also called it a proud moment for them.

Terming it a "fine initiative," N. Ram, the Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu said he hoped that the newly liberalised norms for domain registration would immensely help the Indian industry, besides creating the national identity in cyberspace. "Apart from the Indian industry and the corporate world, universities, scientific institutions, public sector undertakings and other organisations should avail this great opportunity to make their presence felt in the cyber space," Mr Ram said.

ISD, STD rates to fall; TRAI lowers ADC levy on private operators

TTO News Service

NEW DELHI, Jan 6: Tariffs of STD and ISD calls will come down with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on Thursday reducing the Access Deficit Charge, a levy paid by private operators to BSNL. TRAI has reduced the ADC component on the ISD calls by over 41 per cent to Rs 2.50 a minute from the existing rate of Rs 4.25 and by 62 per cent on STD calls beyond 50 km. to 30 paise from the existing 80 paise.

Major telecom players players like Bharti, Hutch and Reliance have said they would pass on the full benefits to their subscribers. The new regime would not upset the total ADC amount going to Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd at Rs 5,000 crores annually, TRAI Chairman Pradip Baijal, told newsmen after announcing the new regime.

Rates of local calls, whether cell to cell, cell to fixed line or fixed line to cell, are unlikely to undergo any change as the structure for ADC component for these has remained unchanged. TRAI also said fixed line operators like Bharti, Reliance and Tatas (other than BSNL) would retain ADC only on their outgoing calls. ADC on all other calls will be provided to BSNL, it added.

"This will keep the ADC burden low, while also maintaining the overall ADC amount to BSNL and other fixed line operators unchanged," TRAI said in a statement. The new regime would come into effect from February 1, TRAI said adding the Authority would undertake fresh review of the ADC regime within three to six months of implementation of the current rates.

Commenting on the new regime, Sunil Mittal, Chairman of Bharti Group, said "benefits of ADC rate cut would be passed on 100 per cent to the customers... a major reduction has been made in the ADC on outgoing international calls, so the benefit there will also be passed on to the subscribers."

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), which had been opposing any cut in ADC, seemed satisfied with the methodology adopted by TRAI saying it may not "upset" the ADC amount to the PSU. As per the new regime, the fixed line operators other than BSNL would retain ADC only on outgoing ISD calls while the levy on all other calls would be provided to BSNL.

"This will keep the ADC burden low, while also maintaining the overall ADC amount for BSNL and other fixed line operators unchanged," TRAI said.
TRAI has not made any changes in the ADC structure for local and intra circle calls and only changes have been made in the two categories of STD calls of 50-200 km and above 200 km distance slabs where ADC has been cut to 30 paise.

BSNL contributes Rs 20 cores for Tsunami victims

NEW DELHI, Jan 5: The Communications & IT Minister, Mr Dayanidhi Maran, accompanied by Mr Nripendra Misra, Secretary Department of Telecom and Mr A.K. Sinha, Chairman and Managing Director, BSNL, handed over two cheques of Rs10 crores each to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, for the Prime Minister's Relief Fund in aid of Tsunami victims.

Rs 10 crores is contributed by BSNL as a Corproate and another Rs 10 crore are contributed by 3.5 lakh BSNL employees as their one day salary towards Prime Minister's Relief Fund for Tsunami victims, according to Mr Anil Jain, Deputy Director Generak (Marketing), BSNL.

Mr Jain informed that BSNL mobile services was the only mobile communication medium between Andaman & Nicobar circle and other parts of the country. The mobile services are fully operative since December 26, 2004 when the Tsunami hit the islands. The mobile services were badly affected in southern island of Andaman & Nicobar. The network was damaged in Car Nicobar island and BSNL immediately sent 15 INMARSAT terminals which were utilised for the communication by Civil and Army authorities and general public.

BSNL had also put in free public telephones in all relief camps in Tamil Nadu to help affected people communicate with their near and dears.

Mr Jain said that BSNL was able to restore 100 per cent telecom network in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Pondicherry within 72 hours of Tsunami hitting the Indians coasts. A team of officers and officials was deputed to Andaman & Nicobar, which was the worst affected coastal area due to Tsunami. BSNL was able to recover all but two exchanges in Andaman & Nicobar Island. BSNL has reached even to those Islands and restored telecommunications systems where Army is depopulating the area.

BSNL appoints advisor

NEW DELHI, Jan 5: Morgan Stanely has been appointed as advisor by BSNL to guide it through the process of synergising operations of itself and MTNL as proposed by the Department of Telecom. BSNL has appointed Morgan Stanley as advisor to the synergising process of BSNL and MTNL, sources said.

BSNL restores telcom links in tsunami-hit areas, Maran reviews

NEW DELHI, Dec 29: Union IT and Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran on Wednesday reviewed the measures taken to restore communication links in the tsunami-hit areas even as BSNL said telecom facilities in these areas had been restored. Maran, who was briefed by senior officers of Department of Telecom and the CMD of BSNL, directed officials to give top priority to the Andaman and Nicobar islands.

He has asked BSNL to charge normal STD charges instead of satellite tariff, which is comparatively much higher, for calls and has directed that the telephones in the tsunami-affected areas should not be disconnected for non-payment of bills, an official update said.

In the Andaman & Nicobar circles, five telephone exchanges-- Diglipur, Kalighat Kalera, Kishori Nagar and Ram Nagar have been restored. Five INMARSAT terminals have been airlifted to the islands and ten more are being rushed to be used as public telephones in places where telecom services have been disrupted because of the natural disaster.

BSNL takes steps to restore links to Andamans

NEW DELHI, Dec 28: The earthquake and tsunami have partially affected BSNL network in Andaman and Nicobar. Services at Port Blair have been restored to normalcy, a BSNL release said. Satellite stations at Car Nicobar and Hut Bay are affected and efforts are on to restore them at the earliest, it said. Exchanges at Diglipur, Campbeil Bay and Kamrola are interrupted and normal operations are likely to be restored very soon, the release added.

BSNL warns basic telephone charges will go up if ADC reduced

NEW DELHI, Dec 20: The BSNL on Monday warned that the fixed line telephone charges would go up considerably in case telecom regulator TRAI reduces the Access Deficit Charge (ADC) which the public sector company gets from private operators for its rural operations. "The fixed line telecom charges are below cost... The telephone rental per month could be as high as Rs 360 and call charges also could increase if the ADC is reduced," according to Mr A K Sinha, Chairman and Managing Director, BSNL. He said that no operator or any other stake-holder would like that scenario.

Mr Sinha, who was speaking to newsmen to announce the company's results, said ADC is not a benefit to BSNL, but covers its cost in providing services in rural areas and in fact all private basic operators who go to rural areas get the ADC. He said BSNL had pleaded with TRAI not to reduce the ADC. The current rental for BSNL urban fixed-line subscriber is Rs 250 a month.

At present only cell phone tariffs are cost based. Even in a city like like Delhi fixed line tariffs are lower than the cost. If there is no ADC, rentals will have to be doubled and number of free calls will have to be brought down to zero to keep the service viable. ADC was created to compensate fixed line operators for non cost-based tariffs and all of them get it, he said.

BSNL is to get about Rs 5,000 crore this fiscal (2004-05) as ADC charge, which ranges from 0.30-0.80 paise a minute for local/STD calls made from mobile phones, and Rs 4.25 in case of international calls. Mr Sinha said a certain quantum of ADC's level should be assured, even if it is kept at the current level (Rs 5,000 crore), despite the huge growth in mobile subscriber base.

BSNL pays Rs 481.25 cr dividend

NEW DELHI, Dec 20:The Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) paid Rs 481.25 crore as dividend to the Government. The Dividend Cheque was presented to Mr Dayanidhi Maran, Minister of Communications & Information Technology, by Mr A.K. Sinha in the presence of Minister of State for Communications & Information Technology, Dr. Shakeel Ahmad and Secretary, Department of Telecommunications, Mr Nripendra Misra.

The dividend cheque presented includes two components of Rs 281.25 crore towards dividend payment for the year 2003-04 and another Rs 200 crore towards advance dividend payment for the year 2004-05. BSNL recorded Rs 5,976 crore in profits on sales of about Rs 31,400 crore for 2003-04. The previous fiscal, 2002-03, the company had profits of Rs 1,444 crore. The dip in profits in 2002-03 was largely on account of clearing wage arrears, hence the four-fold rise in 2003-04, according to Mr Sinha.

However, during 2003-04 about Rs 1,500 crore out of Rs 5,976 crore profits were on account of write back of expenditure, minus which the net would have been about Rs 4,500 crore.

It showed higher profits and sales during 2003-04, despite a continued falls in tariffs. The company added 3 million cellular and 1 million landline subscribers during the fiscal. This year the company is expected to add 7 million cellular and about 1.7 million landline subscribers and the continuing fall in tariffs may not allow it to improve results in a very big way.

Camera mobile that see through people's clothes

A new phone is making headlines in Japan and it's no new technology gizmo improving connectivity or clarity. This new add-on to Vodafone handsets, by Yamada Denshi is intended to be used as a night filter to allow customers to take pictures with their phones in the dark. But this is not the reason behind its rising populariy as the night vision camera has an unexpected side effect - in the right circumstances, it allows users to see a lot more. Besides taking snaps in the dark, the Yamada Denshi infrared filter sees through people's clothes.

The Rs 8,400 attachment is available on the Internet and can be mounted on high-end cellphones. These gadgets were originally to help people take pictures at night, but voyeurs have found a new use for them. The gadget, which has since been dubbed 'pervert filter' by the media, can also be effectively used with high-end camera phones with powerful zooms and autofocus.

Hoteliers in India are already considering banning such cell phones with cameras from the private areas of hotels such as swimming pools, saunas, spas and changing rooms. The hoteliers fear they could face legal action if anyone uses camera phones to click images of their guests, many of who are celebrities, in the private areas and then circulates the pictures over the internet. Definately this phone is what teenage boys' dreams are made of.



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