KERALA

BSNL fixed phones to go hi-tech

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM Sept. 26. The Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) would soon convert the fixed telephone into a technology-driven tool by adding to it innovative features ranging from Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) connectivity to SMS facilities.

A project to provide ADSL broadband facility, which interlinks television and Internet to the fixed phone, and facility to exchange short messages using fixed phones is now being piloted in Kolkatta, S. D. Saxena, Director (Finance), BSNL, New Delhi, told The Hindu here.

All that was required for using SMS facility in fixed telephones was a link-up with a device costing around Rs. 1,000, he said.

With the telecom sector thrown open to competition, the BSNL would have to constantly explore new market avenues and deliver innovative features to move up a few notches from its current position as the seventh largest company in the world, Mr. Saxena— who had associated with Sam Pitroda in setting up the C-DOT— said.

The slump in profits were due to a combination of a decline in the pulse rates of incoming international calls, predatory pricing policies of competitors and narrowing margins for a capital-intensive behemoth that earmarked over Rs. 16,000 crores of the Rs. 37,000-crore turnover for capital expenditure alone.

Moreover, the BSNL was also absorbing revenue losses from the service-oriented thrust on expanding rural telephony as well as diminishing earnings per line, he said.

The BSNL was in the process of consolidating its hold on the cellular market buoyed by the enthusing response to its foray into the segment as a fourth player.

According to Mr. Saxena, the cellular industry was, at present, an `overheated and volatile market' and going by the golden rule, there would only be three or four players in the field once the sector stabilised.

The BSNL aimed at expanding its cellular subscriber base to an estimated 20 million consumers by 2005. Its immediate target was to add at least 2.5 million subscribers to its current clientele base of around four million customers.

The BSNL also proposed to pilot an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) package in Kerala and Gujarat.

The ERP package would integrate the entire range of the BSNL's operations, from management to costing and auditing, at an estimated cost of $ 500 million.

According to Mr. Saxena, choosing Kerala as one of the States for piloting the ERP package project was inspired by the successful billing software that had been designed by an IT entrepreneur here.

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