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CELLLULAR SERVICES: Behemoth Makes up for Delay

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VoicenData Bureau
New Update

It’s celebration time for BSNL as the company has achieved the 1-million

mark in cellular services. The company also has the distinction of being the

fastest company to achieve this mark. This is a great achievement for an

incumbent operator that has always been accused of being inefficient. BSNL has

achieved this rare feat in three months, adding an average of 5,500 subscribers

per day.

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Though BSNL was the third operator in cellular services, it started as a

fourth operator in majority of the circles due to bureaucratic delays. The

company has done pretty well in almost all the circles and has silenced its

critics by bagging either number two or number three positions in all the

circles except Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh.

The credit for this landmark achievement can be attributed to pricing,

network design, and coverage. BSNL’s Plan325 was the main trigger for

achieving this landmark number. Initially, it was felt that the plan was just

promotional in nature and BSNL wouldn’t be able to carry it on for long. But

with TDSAT giving a go ahead to the plan, BSNL has gained an edge in terms of

pricing vis-à-vis private operators.

The cellular network design of BSNL is excellent as it provides an excellent

coverage on highways–state as well as national–which makes it ideal for

people who are roaming inter-state as well as intra-state. This has given a lot

of word-of-mouth publicity to BSNL, which has paid little attention to

advertisement in media excepting the few introductory advertisements that

appeared on TV channels.

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BSNL’s

Cellular Performance
Circle Subscribers Position Comments
Kolkata 14,997 3rd BSNL

is by default the third operator as Reliance is yet to start its service.
Maharashtra 127,980 3rd Surpassed Bharti though it

started service after four months.
Gujarat 75,350 3rd Surpassed Bharti though it

started service after two months.
Andhra

Pradesh
72,675 3rd Surpassed Hutch though it

started service after five months.
Karnataka 65,779 3rd Surpassed Hutch though it

started service couple of months before BSNL.
Tamil

Nadu
35,333 4th It is the only A circle where

BSNL is at fourth position and has to fast catch up with Bharti.
Kerala 73,084 3rd Surpassed Bharti though it

started service after three months.
Punjab 58,780 3rd BSNL is by default the third

operator.
Haryana 36,632 3rd Surpassed Aircel Digilink

which has been there for a long time.
UP (W) 31,916 3rd BSNL is by default the third

operator as Koshika’s license has been terminated.
UP(E) 61,305 2nd BSNL is the second operator

as Koshika’s license has been terminated.
Rajasthan 38,322 2nd BSNL has surpassed Aircel

Digilink which has been there for a long time.
Madhya

Pradesh
28,018 4th Trailing by Bharti, the 3rd

operator by around 264 subscribers, a very small margin.
West

Bengal
18,137 2nd Reliance is way ahead of BSNL

and is sitting comfortably in the first position.
Himachal

Pradesh
11,046 2nd Has surpassed Reliance by a

huge margin which has been there for a long time.
Bihar 24,987 2nd BSNL is by default the second

operator as Koshika license has been terminated.
Orissa 15,353 2nd BSNL is by default the second

operator as Koshika license has been terminated.
l

BSNL is yet to start service in Assam, North East and J&K.
l

Position is in terms of number of subscribers (till 31st December 2002)

that a service provider has in respective circles

BSNL plans to provide coverage in 1,021 cities (Phase I and Phase II). The

company had plans to provide coverage in around 800 cities by December-end,

which would give it extra mileage over private operators. In Maharashtra, Bharti

is operational in around 20 cities whereas BSNL is operational in 120 cities.

This sheer difference gives a huge advantage to BSNL in achieving those numbers.

Private service providers are focusing only on those areas where they can get

maximum return on investment but for BSNL it’s more-the-merrier kind of

scenario as it already has the infrastructure in place. Only incremental amount

is added to provide cellular services in newer areas.

The cellular service is moving in full steam but there are several roadblocks

to be removed if it wants to retain the No. 1 position. Issues like network

expansion and SIM card procurement have to be sorted out before things go out of

control. The cellular capacity has exhausted in many cities, and the second

phase of expansion should take place at a fast pace so that there is no

discontinuity of service. BSNL must overcome this if it has to retain the No. 2

position in cellular services in the country.

Pravin Prashant

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