labels: bharat sanchar nigam ltd, bharti telecom, escotel, telecom, marketing - general
Competition increases in the mobile phone segment in Kerala news
Jays Jacob
07 November 2002

Kochi: Bharat Sanchar Nigam’s (BSNL) entry into the mobile phone segment seems to have prompted Escotel and Airtel to reach out to more customers in Kerala.

Both 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.

Escotel 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 significant share.”

Another 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.

Other 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.

On 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.

Swaroop 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.

Postmaster 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 central region.

Baburaj 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.

Elango 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.


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Competition increases in the mobile phone segment in Kerala