Walking the extra mile to keep connected

BSNL quick in restoring communication in landslip-hit Pettimudy

Updated - August 08, 2020 11:36 pm IST

Published - August 08, 2020 05:55 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

BSNL employees setting right the connectivity crash at the Pettimudy tower after repairing the satellite antenna.

BSNL employees setting right the connectivity crash at the Pettimudy tower after repairing the satellite antenna.

Even though the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has often got the least preference from the Central government in spectrum allocations and technology upgrades, the public sector telecom company has time and again proved its social commitment.

When the landslip-hit Pettimudy in Idukki district was cut off from communication on Friday, hampering rescue efforts, BSNL workers were quick to restore it, despite the challenging conditions.

The nearest point of optic fibre connectivity from Pettimudy is around 30 kilometres away in Rajamala. Even at this point, only BSNL has connectivity, as private players often stay away from the regions in the interiors. But since extending the optic fibre network to the remote Pettimudy was impractical, the BSNL has been using the satellite connectivity method to provide a mobile network for those living in the layams (housing lines of tea garden workers).

Early on Friday, as soon as they got information about the communication breakdown that was hampering rescue efforts, a team led by Junior Telecom Officer, Pettimudy, set out to Pettimudy. With a key bridge from the Munnar side being washed away, they had to take a dangerous forest path, part of which was negotiated in a vehicle provided by the Forest Department, and partly on foot.

“We had feared that the tower itself might have been washed off. It turned out that the satellite antenna was completely damaged and there was no power supply. The repairs were done and service was restored using generator power supply, as power lines were yet to be restored. But even with the original bandwidth, it was tough to handle the call traffic. So, I contacted the higher ups in Thiruvananthapuram, Bengaluru and later Delhi, from where we got approval to increase the bandwidth by four times, with which 2,000 calls can be handled every hour,” says Francis C. Jacob, Principal General Manager, BSNL.

At the normal bandwidth, it costs the BSNL anywhere between ₹11 to 15 lakh annually in rent to maintain the satellite connectivity. The revenue from this area is much lesser than that, yet the company still provides connectivity to the remotest of locations as part of its social obligation.

“The BSNL Employees Union had appealed all its members to be on the field during this hour of crisis, despite the hardships we face. It is in such times that the public realise the importance of the survival of PSUs like BSNL,” says BSNL EU Kerala Circle Secretary C. Santosh Kumar.

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