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Tuesday, Dec 24, 2002

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PM to launch telecom scheme for rural sector

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The project will provide accessibility of public telephone to the rural population at their doorsteps by using Wireless in Local Loop (WLL) technology. In the initial phase, the pilot project would cover about 8,000 villages in 21 telecom circles.

The Prime Minister, Mr A. B. Vajpayee, being felicitated at the BJP National Executive meeting watched by (from left) the BJP President, Mr Venkaiah Naidu, and the Delhi Pradesh BJP President, Mr Madan Lal Khurana, in the Capital on Monday.

NEW DELHI, Dec. 23

IN a major initiative aimed at ensuring that the benefits of the ongoing telecom revolution is made available to rural citizens, a pilot project of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) — the Grameen Sanchar Sewak (GSS) — is to be launched by the Prime Minister on Tuesday.

The project has been conceptualised to provide accessibility of public telephone to the rural population at their doorsteps by using Wireless in Local Loop (WLL) technology.

The scheme is to be implemented through the Grameen Dak Sewak (GDS) delivery agents of the Department of Posts (DoP), to be called Grameen Sanchar Sewaks. These employees will work as BSNL franchisees in the rural areas.

This initiative is expected to strengthen the country rural telecom network, where currently about 30.3 per cent of total telephones in the country are in operation.

According to an official statement, in the initial phase, this pilot project would cover about 8,000 villages in 21 telecom circles covering all the States except Andaman & Nicobar, Haryana and Punjab.

The scheme would currently engage the services of 1,800 GDS. Grameen Dak Sewak will carry the wireless-based telephone in his area of operation and make the instant telephone communication facility available to the villagers while delivering their letters. For this additional service offered by GDS, they will get a commission of 20 per cent of the value of calls made by the villagers while (additional) 5 per cent commission will go to the DoP.

Since there are number of small hamlets & villages in a revenue village, the telecom facility will be extended to every villager through this method without his having to commute to the village public telephone (VPT).

For this pilot scheme, the existing rural WLL infrastructure will be used apart from the purchase of FWT (Fixed Wireless Telephone) phone. Under the scheme, the FWT phone with display facility to be carried in a bag will be provided to a Grameen Dak Sewak who will now be called Grameen Sanchar Sewak also or GSS. When the GSS goes to a house to deliver a letter, he will carry the FWT phone with him. Since the GSS reaches practically every house, the scheme will enable the phone service to be made available practically to all the citizens in his area. The FWT phone is capable of operating normally within a radius of 5 km from the WLL tower. The FWT phones have a display screen on which the call units will be displayed. All the FWT phones shall be provided with STD/ISD facility.

The cost of the pilot project is estimated to be Rs 2.5 crore to Rs 3 crore.

The statement notes that the FWT phone has been provided by BSNL to the GSS on a very nominal charge of Rs 20 per month as insurance cover. The GSS must earn a minimum of Rs 20 per month as commission for outgoing calls. In case, the GSS fails to earn the minimum amount, BSNL will have the option of terminating the agreement with GSS.

Extension of facility for incoming calls or for outgoing messages and passing on the same to the concerned person in the village has been allowed and a charge of Rs 5 per message will be levied for conveying any incoming call/message. This amount shall be retained by the GSS.

For easy calculation of call charges by the GSS, a ready reckoner has been pasted on the FWT phone itself in the local language also.

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