Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Thursday, Jan 17, 2002
BPL Mobile launches GPRS services
MUMBAI, Jan. 16
BPL Mobile on Wednesday announced the launch of its GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) network in Mumbai, offering it at a flat introductory rate of Rs 750 per month for unlimited Internet access through the mobile telephone, waiving activation charges of Rs 1,200 as well.
This is a lumpsum rate for mobile usage as well as Internet usage. BPL Mobile had tied up with an internet service provider for offering net access through the GPRS network and was likely to tie up with more ISPs, said BPL Mobile officials.
The company will also offer Corporate GPRS solutions - secure wireless intranets for corporates offering them a virtual private network which can be accessed through GPRS-enabled mobile handsets.
This is the first GPRS service in the country; and, according to the company, among the few networks in the world to be rolled out commercially.
Unlike WAP access to the Internet, GPRS allows high-speed data transmission of up to 30 Kbps; one can connect the GPRS phone to a laptop, a PC or a PDA and go online.
BPL Mobile said it would also be the first network in the country to become part of Microsoft's worldwide Pocket PC 2002 early access programme.
BPL Mobile's technology platform partner is Motorola.
The Chief Executive Officer of BPL Mobile Communications, Mr Girish Rangan, said he expected usage of GPRS services to be driven by the fact that e-mail could be accessed while a person was on the move. Downloads could happen while allowing the user voice access as well.
He said it would work out cheaper than a typical ISP service where usage of the Net for 20 hours a month could cost Rs 250 by way of ISP charges and Rs 500 by way of fixed telephony charges.
GPRS requires the use of a GPRS-enabled mobile handset. At present, the handsets were available for Rs 10,000 onwards, said BPL Mobile officials. BPL's SIM cards were already GPRS-enabled, they said.
Mumbai is being used as a test bed for the GPRS service. The core of the service sits in Mumbai and subscribers elsewhere could be given a roaming mobile experience, they said.
The company was configured to handle 10,000 users and could add on subscribers easily through simple software upgradation. "The network itself is large enough," said Mr Rangan.
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