BPL To Roll Out GSM Handsets Soon

Thiruvananthapuram: | Updated: Sep 25 2003, 05:30am hrs
The BPL group will launch Indias first home-made mobile handsets in 2-3 months, once its international validation in Denmark is complete. About 10,000 handsets, made in BPLs Palakkad facility are being test-marketed in select metros in the country, according to BPL chairman, TPG Nambiar.

We have gone for GSM (global system for mobile communications) sets, not CDMA (code division multiple access), Mr Nambiar said. All GSM handsets have to go through mandatory 5-week verification process to comply with specification and guarantee interoperability with all GSM networks worldwide. Test facilities are located primarily in Europe and BPL has gone in for a Denmark attestation.

The group has recently set up a Rs 500 crore handset facility near its Palakkad headquarters, mainly eyeing the international market, Mr Nambiar said. The phones software, which accounts for 70 per cent of the handset cost, will be developed at the companys Bangalore unit.

Last year, the company bought 13 acres of land with buildings in Palakkad from the Rallies group. The Palakkad wing of the BPL business empire was its most cost-effective unit, especially after its 1,200 staff strength was pruned to 800, he said.

With the Sanyo tie-up, the group also plans to go for a Rs 2,000 crore export-oriented rechargable battery production facility in Karnataka.

The biggest setback for expansion and diversification plans was liquidity, Mr Nambiar admitted. However, the Rs 500-crore upgrading of BPL Mobile services will be undertaken at the earliest, he said. Of this, the Rs 120 crore project for Kerala was a priority. The group has raised Rs 150 crore in market to partially meet its high-priority upgrading plans.