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Maharashtra and Goa Get GPRS

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VoicenData Bureau
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The service would be made available for post-paid customers and would enable customers to access the Internet and email

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Airtel has launched its general packet radio service (GPRS) network in the Maharashtra and Goa circles. The service would be backed by MMS applications.

Airtel has invested Rs 600 crore in Maharashtra and Goa circle. The company plans to invest Rs 150 crore during FY 2004-05.

Airtel, Maharashtra and Goa circle COO Christopher Tobit said that the company has been testing this service for the past five to six months. The service would be made available for post-paid customers and would enable customers to access the Internet and email in the home network as well other 15 Airtel circles at speeds from 30 kbps to 64 kbps. The service is

already functioning in Mumbai.

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The subscriber base of Airtel has touched the 3.5 lakh mark by March 04". Tobit said that the company hopes to convert around 15 percent -20 percent of the existing customers to GPRS. The numbers for MMS applications are expected to be much higher. Airtel will be launching the GPRS service for its prepaid segment by the next month. Currently, around 1,000 customers are using MMS applications. Of its 3.5 lakh subscribers, around 85,000 are prepaid subscribers.

Customers would be charged Rs 600 per month for unlimited usage. The rates for MMS however are yet to be decided, Tobit said. GPRS could be activated using the over the air (OTA) platform wherein the subscriber has to send a request for activation on his GPRS enabled handset. The GPRS network would be upgraded to EDGE in a month or so, which offers three times more speed than normal Internet.

CTO Vivek Vyavahare said that the company is targeting the business user, youth, cricket fans, movie lovers and travelers. Currently, around 515 cell sites have been equipped with GPRS. Airtel plans to add another 155 towns and seven highways to its network in the Maharashtra circle soon. The company is expected to cross the one million-subscriber mark by March 2005. By October 2004, 260 towns and 12 highways will be part of the Airtel network.

CyberMedia News

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