Gram Sanchar Sewak Service Takes A Lead Over VPTs

New Delhi: | Updated: Dec 24 2002, 05:30am hrs
In what can prove to be a viable alternative to Village Public Telephones (VPTs), the government is introducing the concept of a roving postman with a Wireless in Local Loop (WLL) phone in villages across the country. The pilot phase of the project titled Grameen Sanchar Sewak (GSS) will be launched by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on Tuesday in Delhi.

Under the pilot, 1800 postmen, who will cover 8,000 villages located in 21 circles across the country, will be involved in the project. The postmen will be given a WLL phone to carry with them through which villagers can make calls.

These postmen will work as franchisees of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and will be given a commission of 20 per cent of the total value of the calls. The department of posts (DoP) will also be given 5 per cent of the call revenues earned by BSNL through the scheme.

The project may help the government provide communication facilities to all villages as village public telephones are yet to cover all revenue villages in the country. As the revenue village also includes small hamlets, the roving postman with a phone will also save villagers from travelling to the nearest VPTs.

As per the government policy, every revenue village of the country has to have at least one VPT. However, there are still more than a lakh villages that are without a VPT. As per 1991 census, the number of revenue villages in the country is 6,07,491 but only 5,02,987 villages have been provided with a telephone by BSNL till November this year.

For the pilot phase, existing WLL infrastructure will be used but BSNL will invest around Rs 3 crore in purchasing fixed wireless telephones with a display unit. All the phones will be provided with STD/ISD facilities. BSNL will charge Rs 20 per month from the postman to cover the insurance cost of the instrument. This would mean that the postman will have to earn a minimum of Rs 100 per month from these calls to break even. The postman will also be allowed to deliver incoming messages at Rs 5 per message which will be retained by him.