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Saturday, May 25, 2002

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Cordless phones will turn PASsť

G. Rambabu


THROW away your cordless telephone if you have one. It could become terribly outdated soon.

A new cordless technology - Personal Access System (PAS) - developed by US-based UTStarcom Inc, which has made waves in China, is now being tested by Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. The country's biggest telecom operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and private operators including Bharti, Reliance and Tata's have also shown interest in this technology.

The advantages to the basic telephone subscriber are many. For one, the conventional cordless will be replaced by a telephone instrument that is comparable to the smallest cellular phones now available. It weighs like a feather and can be carried in the pocket for a good 3-4 km surrounding the telephone exchange. The best part, however, is the cost. Apart from the usual basic telephone rental and tariff charges, it costs an additional sum of Rs 2,000 which is refundable upon return of the instrument.

According to Mr Yogesh S Bijlani, Vice-President (Sales & Marketing), UTStarcom, while MTNL has already announced its intention to offer these services in three locations at Delhi, the bigger telecom player - BSNL is also looking at the feasibility of offering this across the country.

He noted that apart from advantages to the subscribers, even the operators would benefit. "For the operators, PAS offers tremendous advantage as it is not only considerably cheaper than other wireless access platforms and even wireline and involves marginal operational expenditure but also allows for the provisioning of the same suite of services as offered by competing technology platforms and more," he said.

He pointed out that China was the best example of the extensive deployment of PAS platform. China Telecom, the nations fixed line operator has very successfully leveraged the benefits of this platform to spread its reach across the country and given a huge fillip to basic telephony, he said.

"To date around 10 million PAS lines, around 75 per cent of the total WLL lines in China have been deployed across nearly 500 cities and towns. The requirement in India is similar as it is essentially a low affordability market with penetration skewed towards the urban areas. The PAS system is highly suited for such a market as it is highly cost- effective, modular and therefore allows operators to rapidly provision the system in different topologies. The system also allows for advanced data services," he said.

Mr. Bijlani said that given the low teledensity targets in the country, the PAS system, based on a micro cellular technology that allows the service operators to provide cordless and fixed wireless services, would be the best option available.

He said that this was different from the CDMA technology, which has been adopted by some operators, based on the concept of limited mobility within the short distance charging area (SDCA). The PAS technology was essentially an extended and improved cordless, and as such should not find opposition from the cellular operators, he said.

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