BSNL to add 16 lakh GSM connections this year

P Raghavan

Chief General Manager of Karnataka Telecom Circle P Raghavan speaks to Nandini Chandrashekar about future plans for the state.

What is BSNL focussing on, in Karnataka this year?
We have big expansion plans this year and are increasing our capacity in all segments. This year we will be giving 1.8 lakh WLL (wireless landline) connections, 3.68 lakh broadband connections and about 16 lakh GSM connections. Our biggest expansion, however, will come in the cellular segment. We are adding equipment to facilitate an addition of 3 million connections. This expansion includes 2 lakh 3G (third generation) expansion and 40 per cent of this will be in Bangalore. Towers all over Karnataka will also be expanded by 70 per cent.

When will you be launching the 3G (third generation) services and what are the packages that you are planning to attract individual customers?
These services are likely to be launched in the last week of October or early November. Presently, all the common control equipment is under installation. We are also installing 2G equipment to supplement that. We will be launching 3G in Bangalore first, and then launch it in other cities. When a person using 3G services is travelling, there should no interruption in movement from 2G to 3G and vice versa. So we are taking a little time to set it right. Meanwhile we have a lot of Value Added Services for the individual customer. Options like high speed internet access, video calling, mobile TV, video streaming and multiplayer gaming will all be available at affordable prices.

BSNL has strong presence in rural areas. What are you doing to retain that lead in the light of severe competition?
The rentals are as low as Rs 50 per month for landline connections in the rural areas. There is also a big thrust for broadband in rural areas. BSNL has installed DSLAMs to give broadband connection from all the exchanges in Karnataka - including 2,200 plus rural exchanges. The tariffs, at Rs 99 and Rs 150 per month, are very affordable and are available for rural subscribers only. Under our Universal Service Obligation program, rural subscribers get subsidies for the computer, if they purchase it through us. They also get the modem free from BSNL with no installation charges.

What are other projects that BSNL is working on?
Under Karnataka State Wide Area Network (KSWAN) project, BSNL is commissioning media for 400 nodes for the State Government. Under the programme of Ministry of Communications, about 5,300 customer service centres will connect all the Gram Panchayats. About 4,000 broadband connections can  be provided straight away on landline. Under the Ministry of HRD, 20,000 colleges all over India will be connected with broadband by BSNL. In Karnataka, 525 colleges are in the first phase and these colleges will be provided with 10 broadband connections each. BSNL will bear 10 per cent of the cost of the rentals.

There have been consistent complaints about the quality of customer care as the response time is delayed. What is BSNL doing to improve the service quality?
We are revamping our customer care section. We are running a pilot for the quality of service provided when a person has to obtain a landline or broadband connection and have received positive feedback. Dedicated teams to follow up on requests and queries. We still do face some problems with regard to repairing lines, as our network is largely dependent on copper cables. Road digging and cutting hamper our services quite a bit, but we are working towards better co-ordination with the civic agencies.

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