Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Sunday, Jun 16, 2002
BSNL to handle Chennai mobile project with GSM network
Mr Prithipal Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, BSNL, and Mr K. Venkataramani, Chief General Manager, Chennai Telephones, at a press meet in Chennai on Saturday.
CHENNAI, June 15
BHARAT Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has decided to include the project for giving mobile connections in Chennai as part of its national programme for laying a global system for mobile communications (GSM) network.
Speaking to mediapersons, the Chairman and Managing Director of BSNL, Mr Prithipal Singh, said the initial plan was to handle the Chennai mobile project as part of a pilot project along with Kolkata. However, since the Kolkata experience had problems BSNL has decided to include Chennai as part of the national project.
According to Mr Singh, the discussions with the suppliers for the Chennai project were at an advanced stage and an announcement could be expected by the end of the month.
He said that in each of the zones a city had been chosen in which a validation process was being carried out. The total cost for the national GSM project is estimated to be around Rs 2,000 crore.
Asked about the prospect of disinvestment in BSNL, Mr Singh said that for the present there was no talk about such a move.
On the issue of interconnectivity with Bharti for international long distance (ILD) and national long distance (NLD) calls, he said the agreements existed between the private operator and BSNL. "Once they get their security access we will give them the interconnectivity."
Mr Singh said BSNL did not think the private operators in the basic services as a challenge. At best, these services will be able to provide the second connection choice for the customers. "Our transparency, accessibility and care for the customer are much more than that of the competitors", he said.
According to him, though most of the private operators in the basic services had obtained their licences five years ago, they had been able to give only seven to eight lakh connections till now. "We give 50 lakh connections every year, so we do not consider that we have a competition''.
Mr Singh said that in the recent years BSNL had been growing at a rate or around 20 per cent and expected to continue to grow at this rate. The company registered a turnover of Rs 24,000 crore last year, which was a 19 per cent growth from the previous year.
This year the company planned a turnover of Rs 40,000 crore. This would be through an addition of 64 lakh lines, including 30 lakh fixed lines, 10 lakh wireless in local loop (WLL) connections and about 2.5 lakh mobile lines, he said.
At present BSNL has 3.5 crore telephone connections through 30,000 odd exchanges. It has set up 70,000 village panchayat telephones with WLL equipment. The remaining 18,000 connections will be given by June in inaccessible places, some through satellite links.
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