While the landlines were down on Thursday and Friday thanks to the strike by the BSNL staff, mobile phones saved the day for most businesses. And it meant good moolah for both the cellular companies as well as Bharti Telesonic, the national long distance (NLD) operator of the Bharti Group.
Cellular traffic showed a marked increase on Thursday. In Chennai, while both RPG Cellular and Hutch registered a four per cent increase in the overall traffic, around 15 per cent of which came from STD. For Hutch, the long distance traffic was up by 30 per cent to 35 per cent, according to Mr Kumar Ramanathan, vice president - sales and marketing of Hutchison Essar South Ltd.
RPG, the other operator in the city, saw a 25 per cent increase in its long distance traffic. Our SMS traffic almost doubled on Thursday, says a senior official of RPG Cellular Services Ltd. The cellular company, on an average day, logs 1.3 lakh SMS messages. The SMS traffic of AirTel also increased considerably on the day, according to the officials of Bharti Cellular. But some of it is attributed to the five new AR Rahman ring tones released by the operator.
All this, despite the fact that the mobile to public switch telephone network (PSTN) land lines to most major cities including New Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Coimbatore were completely cut-off, while some other cities like Hyderabad were partially cut off. The 20 per cent to 25 per cent increase in the outgoing STD traffic was mainly owing to mobile to mobile traffic, for which most operators use Bharti Telesonics network. The private NLD operator is also used by the cellular operators for their redundancy links. On an average day, Chennai alone sees an outgoing mobile call traffic of 5.6 lakh minutes, about 15-20 per cent of which is long distance.
E-mail usage was also on the rise on Thursday and Friday. Satyam Infoway has recorded a 10 per cent spurt in the usage of i-ways, its 700-odd internet cafes across the country.