BSNL Now Plans Soft Launch Of Kerala Mobile Operations

Thiruvananthapuram: | Updated: Oct 23 2002, 05:30am hrs
BSNL has dropped its initial aggressive marketing plans for mobile operations on the eve of its launch in Kerala. Gauging the initial market response, the public sector has decided on a soft launch on Wednesday.

Mammooty: The first recepient
Plans to rope in Malayalam superstar Mammootty for its marketing campaign in Kerala to counter BPL Mobiles use of Keralas other superstar Mohanlal has been abandoned. Sources told The Financial Express that the negotiations with the actor had failed to clinch a deal.

But the official version is that the competitive tariff rates and coverage will be more than sufficient to wean away Keralas five lakh mobile subscribers from private players.

BSNL will have a regional-level campaign in the print media, but we are not into aggressive marketing yet, said BSNL general manager (mobile)Kerala office S Vishwanathan.

He said since the volume of enquiries from its 2.7 million customer-base has been high, any high-voltage campaign would be unnecessary. We would rather wait and watch the market first, he added.

However, it is Mammooty who will be receiving the first set from chief minister AK Antony at the launch function on Wednesday.

With BSNLs wider coverage, the company expects to grab 65 per cent of the mobile market targeting 3.5 lakh customers, according to Kerala Telecom Circle chief manager PP Ramachandran. Of this two lakh would be netted within March 2003, he added.

BSNLs mobile offering is priced at Rs 2.50 per minute at peak time and Rs 2 per minute at off-peak time for 16 states where the cellular service is being launched this week. For the pre-paid service, the billing unit is 30 seconds and for the post-paid, this would have as much divisibility as 15-second billing.

Six years back, when the mobile phone facility was first made available in Kerala, the airtime per minute was Rs 16.80. Now under various schemes, the highest rate is Rs 2 and lowest 60 paise. The monthly rent has also gone down. The lowest rent has fallen from Rs 600 to Rs 300 and highest from Rs 3,000 to Rs 1,000.