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May 21, 2002 | 1200 IST
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BSNL cell services from Aug 15

Thomas K Thomas

The much talked-about launch of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd's nationwide mobile operations has been slated for August 15. The network will be rolled out in two phases over a period of two years. The company is targeting to install 4 million GSM lines across 20 states covering over 1,000 cities.

BSNL had planned a mega launch event for its cellular services, sources said adding that the services would be launched on the occasion of Independence Day. The company has, however, already launched its cellular services on a pilot basis in a few cities, including Kolkata and Patna.

In spite of having more than 99 per cent of the country's basic telephone service market share, BSNL is projecting the cellular venture as its main-line business. BSNL's cellular services are expected to generate revenues of over Rs 10 billion within the first two years of operations.

During the same period, the company is expecting to capture more than 50 per cent of the cellular market share.

To achieve the objective, the PSU is considering an aggressive pricing strategy. It is also working on providing coverage and capacity in areas where the private sector has not ventured.

For instance, BSNL will cover the national highways, the railways network and the areas surrounding a circle in which the existing cell operators have not set up infrastructure.

The company also plans to offer the entire range of value-added services and national roaming from day one.

BSNL will invest Rs 6 billion in the first phase of the roll out. A network with capacity of 1.5 million lines will be established in both rural and urban areas across 850 cities in the country.

In the second phase, around 2.5 million lines will be installed at an approximate investment of Rs 10 billion across 150 cities.

The company will also roll out its wireless in local loop services. BSNL will roll out 600,000 WLL lines in the rural sector and about 200,000 lines in urban areas this year. It will be primarily deploying WLL technology to provide connectivity in rural areas.

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