Mobile users give MTNLs Garuda a cold shoulder

Written by Vrishti Beniwal | New Delhi, Sep 11 | Updated: Sep 12 2007, 06:24am hrs
There seem to be few takers for Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltds (MTNL) CDMA-based services under the Garuda brand. The company, which provides services in Delhi and Mumbai circles, has about 23,000 such handsets worth Rs 13 crore lying at its Sanchar Haats in the two cities.

MTNLs CDMA service is a limited mobile service, which provides mobility within the short distance charging area (SDCA) and comes bundled with the handset. With private sector telecom operators providing CDMA-based services with full mobility under the unified access service licence (UASL), the limited mobility offering by MTNL has lost its sheen. Since MTNL does not have a UAS licence, it cannot offer full mobility on the CDMA technology. Though MTNL has recently introduced some value-added features for its Garuda customers, nearly 14,228 handsets worth Rs 8.9 crore are lying in Mumbai, whereas the total value of 8,386 mobile sets lying in Delhi is about Rs 4.14 crore.

Of these 23,000 phones, only 2,383 handsets are old, and the remaining are new sets. While new models, lying for a period of one to six months, are being used for giving new connections, old models are lying for a year and are used for replacing faulty sets. All the old models (k-112, k-2235, Hundai-120), which also include some recovered sets, are in Delhi. MTNLs subscriber base for its GSM-based mobile service Dolphin is about 26 lakh, but for Garuda it is only over 2 lakh.

According to a source in MTNL, the company is planning to focus on increasing its CDMA customer base in the current year. We are offering new services like instant messages, camera and voice SMS to tap the low-end segment where the service is extremely popular due to lowest tariffs among all operators, he said.