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
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
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
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.