BSNL plans to launch satellite phone service in 2 years

BSNL plans to launch satellite phone service in 2 years

New Delhi, May29:State-run telco BSNL has reportedly announced that it is planning to launch a satellite phone service in 2 years. According to reports, the company’s Chairman and MD Anupam Shrivastava has said that they had applied to International Maritime Organisation and It would take some time to complete the process. Notably, Satellite phones can be operated anywhere in India and even inside flights and ships.

“We have applied to International Maritime Organisation. It will take some time to complete the process. In 18-24 months, we will be in a position to open satellite phones service for citizens in a phased manner,” BSNL chairman and managing director Anupam Shrivastava told PTI.

Satellite phones will able to work in any part of the country, even inside flights and ships, as they depend on signals directly from satellites located about 35,700 kms above the earth.

Traditional mobile networks cover around 25-30 kms around towers and can transmit signals to phones placed equal to or below the height of the tower.

BSNL has started satellite phone service using INMARSAT service which will be initially offered to government agencies and later extended to citizens in a phased manner.

The service will cover areas where no networks are present and be provided by INMARSAT which has 14 satellites.

Agencies handling disasters, state police, railways, Border Security Force and other government agencies will be given the phones in the first phase.

“The number of satellite phone connections in India is very little but once we open it for citizens, the whole dynamics in the market will change. The volumes will bring down the cost of service. We are charging only Re 1 over the cost that satellite firm will bill to us,” Shrivastava said.

Call rates on satellite phones are expected to be in the range of Rs 30-35 in the first phase when there are only about 4,600 connections in the country.

“Satellite phones also cost Rs 40,000 and more. All the satellite phones are imported at present. Once we open it for citizens, the volumes will drive down the cost of calls as well as handset. Even, huge volume can attract satellite phone manufacturers to set-up their unit in India. We expect it to create a new ecosystem of satellite services in the country,” Shrivastava said.

Satellite phones in India are presently provided by Tata Communications, which inherited the licence from Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (now Tata Communications Ltd).

The services of TCL will be phased out by June 30, 2017 and all the connections will be transferred to BSNL.

There are 1,532 authorised satellite phone connections that can operate within the country and a majority of them are used by security forces. TCL has also issued 4,143 permits to maritime community for use of such phones at ships.

There have been security concerns on use of satellite phones in India.

Telecom regulator Trai has said there is a possibility that communication through such phones can be monitored by foreign agencies as their gateways are located outside India, it added.

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