Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Sunday, Apr 21, 2002
Info-Tech - ISPs
Limited mobility services
HAVE you yearned to own a cellular phone with mobility features at the cost of a regular phone? Your hopes are likely to be realised soon.
The basic service providers (such as Reliance, Tatas or Hughes Tele.com) propose to offer the so-called limited mobility services (using the Wireless-in-Local Loop) platform in direct competition to cellular providers.
After a year long tussle between basic and cellular service providers over the introduction of limited mobility services, the Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal gave the final go-ahead to the introduction of this service in mid-March.
These services are to be launched in different parts of the country on a staggered basis by the basic service providers through the year.
But what is so special about limited mobility services? This new set of service called `limited mobility' using the Wireless-in-Local Loop platform is expected to offer mobility to consumers within a specified radius (say, 50 km also called the short distance charging area). Using a limited mobility handset, a consumer within this radius can talk at the cost of a local call (that is, at Rs 1.20 for a three-minute call, significantly lower than the average cell phone tariffs of over Rs 2 per minute).
On top of that, the incoming calls are free, unlike incoming calls that are charged by cell phone operators. In the case of limited mobility, the rentals have been pegged at Rs 450 as a floor and Rs 550 as a ceiling (though it is likely to be reviewed by TRAI under its cost-based tariff rebalancing exercise).
However, as a low-cost service, limited mobility suffers from certain limitations.
The upfront investment for consumer will be higher than cell phone as handset costs are likely to be upwards of Rs 6,000 more expensive than cell phones.
The handsets are also likely to be heavier than cellular phones. Second, limited mobility is likely to remain a plain vanilla service with no roaming facility and other value-added features such as short messaging service (SMS) or wireless application protocol (WAP) at this point in time.
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