MTNL launches Broadband with Wi-Fi in Delhi

NEW DELHI: Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd Delhi announced the launch of their IPTV-competent broadband with Wi-Fi, with a maximum speed of 2 mbps, which will help set up thousands of "Private Hot Spots" across the Capital city.

Meanwhile, the Wi-Max system is already functioning on a trial basis in some government offices, and should be launched within this year, A K Arora, Executive Director, MTNL said at a press briefing here today.

The broadband Wi-Fi modem works on the latest version of 802.11g of Wi-Fi standard and functions on the unlicensed 2.4 GHz band and generally provides bandwidth of 54 mbps. There cane be up to 30 concurrent users in this system.

The MTNL will sell two types of modems for the new Wi-Fi system: one with one USB and one Ethernet port and the other with four Ethernet ports. Besides, there will be the normal LAN facility as well. MTNL is buying the modems from HT Star company.

The users can purchase pre-paid cards for the usage, which come in various price ranges.

"Small hotels and restaurants can set up these connections which function on radio wave and not through any cable, and allow its customers to use the Internet," Arora explained.

What is most attractive is the pricing of the modems and the monthly rentals.

"It will cost the clients very little, just the security deposit and the cost of the modem. There is no setting-up cost, being on radio waves," he added. There can be multiple users working with their computers or laptops within 40 metres of the modem inside a house or restaurant (in open space, with less physical intrusions, they can work within 60

"The need for us to go into this is that there are at least 1.3 lakh private hot spots across the world, whereas in India there are just a thousand. Especially with the government declaring 2007 as the year of the broadband, we decided to launch this from February 8, and you can get through the Sanchar Haats anywhere. It will be set up within two days of the purchase made," Arora claimed.

He said that the system has already been tried at the domestic airport, Pragati Maidan, India Habitat Centre, Union Public Service Commission office, Indian Institute of Planning and Administration and many offices of the Delhi government. "The most popular has been the one at the airport," Arora said.

He said that setting up public hot spots will hugely help businesses, convention centres, engineering, management and medical institutions, and also private homes. "This helps us also develop our new revenue model, because there will be up to 30 users per modem, and download is free up to one GB and then it costs Rs 1 per MB, as usual our broadband.

The registration charge is Rs 500, security deposit Rs 800 and installing and testing charges are Rs 300. The monthly rental is only Rs 150.

The payments for usages can be made through credit cards as well purchasable prepaid scratch cards.

"Suppose you go to a restaurant and are not sure of being over charged, the scratch card is of major help," explained a senior engineer present at the press conference.

Our aim was to become the dominant player in the field, Arora stressed as the factor behind the decision to launch early. Besides, he said, there will be 90 lakh broadband users by 2007, of which MTNL will have to give 50 lakh connections.

Arora said that Wi-Max is already there in use in Delhi. "This room in which we are having the meeting is Wi-Max enabled, and there are some other government offices as well. Trail runs are on, and we can launch when the government gives permission for the spectrum, which should be the end of this year," Arora hoped.

Arora also announced the launch of MTNL's CDMA mobiles, and asserted that with this, the Nigam has become the only service provider to operate both CDMA and GSM services.

The handset comes for really cheap: the original handset, Huwai C 300, costs Rs 3,500, but MTNL is selling it for just Rs 1,499 paid upfront (VAT extra), with Rs 1,499 free talk time in local network CDMA, GSM and landline) as well, for one year.

MTNL is also giving Rs 25 worth talk time free to other networks, for a period of a week.

The pulse would be of 15 seconds and the rate, Arora said, would be Rs 0.10 for a pulse for local calls. The STD charges would be Rs 2.40 per pulse, he said.

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