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BPL Mobile attempts a turnaround

Telecom company to unveil push mail service for low-end GPRS phones, reports Lalatendu Mishra.

india Updated: Feb 18, 2007 18:47 IST
Lalatendu Mishra
Lalatendu Mishra

BPL Mobile in its bid to salvage its flagging fortunes in Mumbai has embarked on a multi pronged approach to retain its customer base by providing value added services with better connectivity.

Starting next week, BPL Mobile will provide push mail services to its customers who can't afford a high-end Blackberry handset. The main advantage of this service is that subscribers with very low-end GPRS handsets can access email rather than investing in high-end handsets.

"While others are targeting the high end of the market by providing e-mail facilities on costly mobile handsets, our customers can download their emails and access them on their existing GPRS handsets," said BPL Mobile Chief Executive Officer S Subramaniam in an interview with HT.

"This facility will be cheaper as compared to others and customers would get an instant alert on their handset the moment they receive an email," he said.

The company had embarked on a Rs 200 crore infrastructure upgradation programme out of which Rs 100 crore has already been invested. "500 new sites have added by end of 2007 and our capacity has doubled. We are in the process of investing another Rs 100 crore and 50 new sites will be added every month," Subramaniam said adding that this would address the connectivity problem.

The introduction of Intelligent Network next month will help the company to provide varied tariff options to pre paid customers, he said.

Admitting that the company had suffered in the last two years due to lack of investment and confusion among the staff Subramaniam said: "The Me Too attitude has gone. We are investing in technology and manpower. Recently we inducted top level sales and marketing heads and there is stability."

He said that BPL Mobile, which has Average Revenue Per User at Rs 400, would focus on consolidating its base and rebuilding the business rather than aggressively adding new customers.

Notwithstanding its ownership disputes between Hutch and the Ruias of Essar, BPL Mobile is talking to leading banks to refinance corporate debt of around Rs 650 crore. "We are talking it out with several other banks apart from one of our three existing banks ICICI, IDBI and IDFC for restructuring the loans. It will be on favourable terms," the CEO said.

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First Published: Feb 18, 2007 18:47 IST