TAMIL NADU

BSNL launches cellphone service in Chennai

The Union Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology, S. Thirunavukkarasar, making the inaugural call to the Minister of State for Railways, A.K. Moorthy, in Chennai on Sunday. Looking on are the CMD, BSNL, Prithipal Singh, and Chennai Telephones senior officials. — Photo: S. Thanthoni

The Union Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology, S. Thirunavukkarasar, making the inaugural call to the Minister of State for Railways, A.K. Moorthy, in Chennai on Sunday. Looking on are the CMD, BSNL, Prithipal Singh, and Chennai Telephones senior officials. — Photo: S. Thanthoni  

CHENNAI, MARCH 30. The Union Minister of State for Communication and Information Technology, S. Thirunavukarasar, today announced that Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited mobile phones would be extended to 102 municipal towns and 175 taluk headquarters in Tamil Nadu this year.

Eightfour major towns in the Tamil Nadu Circle are already covered by the service.

Mr. Thirunavukarasar launched the `BSNL Cellone countrywide cellular service in Chennai', making the inaugural call to the Minister of State for Railways, A. K. Moorthy.

He said pre-paid service connections would be sold under the "Ex-Cel" brand name from April 4 in Rs.300, Rs.500, Rs.1,000 and Rs.2,000 denominations.

The post-paid `Cellone' service would commence from April 14.

The Chennai service area included the areas covered by Mamallapuram, Maraimalai Nagar and Minjur exchanges.

The project was commissioned in four months, a record time, Mr. Thirunavukarasar said. "We have an equipped capacity of 40 lakh connections throughout India. The equipped capacity for Chennai alone is 1.31 lakhs," he said adding that the BSNL would strive hard to achieve a teledensity target of 15 per cent by 2010 from the existing 5.5 per cent. Mr. Moorthy, urged the BSNL to focus on extending the coverage to the village public telephony.

The BSNL Chairman and Managing Director, Prithipal Singh, describing the Chennai launch as a "dream come true", outlined the BSNL's expansion plans, including for Jammu and Kashmir and the northeastern States.

The cellular service would be launched in Jammu and Kashmir on April 14 and in the northeast on August 15. Value-added services, such as short messaging service from fixed line and availability of high-speed internet broadband width, were on the cards. S.S. Iyer, Chief General Manager, Chennai Telephones, and R. Purushothaman, General Manager (Development), Chennai Telephones, announced there would be no airtime charges for STD calls using BSNL long-distance services under the brand name `Callnow', free unlimited SMS for pre-paid service, free national roaming for post-paid service, free south zone roaming for prepaid service, voice mail service, no security deposit/registration charges for BSNL customers, corporate houses and heavy callers.

Customers could make calls in the service area where there were roaming facility without STD charges.

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