labels: bpl telecom
BPL into net foray in a big waynews
03 September 1999

BPL Telecom has big plans for the internet. The company aims to be a service provider in 11 Indian cities, and plans to create international gateways in Mumbai, New Delhi and Bangalore independent of Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd, the public sector long distance telecom monopoly. The company aims to provide mobile phone-to-internet connectivity in places where the group has cellular service operations ().

The first phase of the project will be made operational by December 1999. By that time BPL will make available its Internet services in Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Kochi and Coimbatore. A group company, BPL Mobile, is already a cellular telephone service provider in these cities. Then, by March 2000, the service will be extended to New Delhi, Calcutta, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Chennai.

At launch the company will have go through VSNL for connectivity, as the setting up of gateways will take time, Anup Verma, associate vice president of the company, said. The company has meanwhile applied to the department of telecommunications for 2mbps leased line links between its nodes. It plans to provide dial-up access initially.

According to Mr Verma, the company is talking to cable operators to set up fibre optic cable connections so that internet service can be provided on a massive scale. These cable operators will become BPL channel partners.

The internet operations of the group will be handled by a new company, BPL Netcom, which is being established.

As an adjunct to its internet operations, BPL Telecom has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Indian Railways for use of the right of way of the railways to lay fibre-optic cables along the rail tracks. The MoU was signed with Rail India Technical and Economic Services. The company will lay the first stretch of this cable network between Mumbai and Chennai. In the final run, there will be a countrywide communication network.

The project is part of Indian Railways'' plan to use its right of way to generate revenues. The railway management had invited global bids for setting up a telecommunications infrastructure along the tracks covering the four regions in the country, including metro corridors and branch lines. The network will be operated on a build-own-operate and lease basis. Bidders may lease the capacity to telecom service providers, and the railways will retain a small portion for its own telecom network, for which it will pay lease rentals.

Mr Verma said BPL too intends to lease capacity on the broadband infrastructure -- the fibre optic cable network along the railway lines and the inter-city connectivity.

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BPL into net foray in a big way