Sanchar Nigams (BSNL) entry into the mobile phone
segment seems to have prompted Escotel and Airtel to reach
out to more customers in Kerala.
the companies have drawn up massive investment plans,
earmarking a substantial portion to the state. Airtel
has gone one step ahead and has tied up with the Department
of Posts in the central region to issue prepaid cards
and recharge coupons from post offices for the
first time in India.
chief operating officer Rajan Swaroop says his company
will pump in Rs 100 crore for developmental activities
in all the circles. The Kerala circle will get a
important step by Escotel is the slashing of the airtime
rate for prepaid users after bringing down the pulse rate
from 60 seconds to 30 seconds. The rate has been cut to
Rs 1.20 per 30 seconds (both incoming and outgoing) from
Rs 3 per 60 seconds, effective 11 November 2002. The catch
is that the promotional offer is for a limited period
up to 31 December 2002.
value-added services, being introduced by Escotel for
its 2.47-lakh subscribers, are doorstep delivery of SIM
cards, issue of bills for prepaid services and discounts
in recharge coupons.
the infrastructure front, it has planned 30 Escotel zones
and 10,000 outlets in the state besides improving the
coverage in the national highways from Ernakulam to Palakkad,
Thiruvananthapuram and Kasargod. The company will set
up additional 25 base stations and two switching modules
in the state.
admits that the growth rate has dropped after the advent
of two more operators in the state. But he expects it
to pick up in the coming months. Airtel has signed a memorandum
of understanding with the Department of Posts, central
region, for making available Airtel Magic prepaid cards
and recharge coupons through 58 post offices spread over
Ernakulam, Thrissur, Alappuzha and Kottayam districts.
General for Central region P C Baburaj and Airtel Kerala
COO T Elango say the facility will be extended to Thiruvananthapuram
and Kozhikode regions besides 1,860 post offices in the
says the postal department will get a commission of 12
per cent for SIM cards and 4.5 per cent for recharge coupons.
In all, the department is expecting a revenue of Rs 25
lakh through the tie-up in the next five years.
says Airtel has budgeted Rs 50 crore for enhancing the
number of base stations from the present 184 by another
50 in Kerala for improving the coverage for its 60,000
customers. The company has so far invested Rs 170 crore
in the state.