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How about a fixed and wireless phone?

Thomas K Thomas | September 09, 2003

Have you got tired of bribing the local linesman every time your fixed line phone goes kaput owing to frequent "cable cuts and rains"?

How would you like if you are offered a telephone which offers you the convenience of a mobile phone on a fixed line, without any cables disturbing the ambience of your living room?

Basic telecom service providers are offering fixed wireless telephones using the Wireless in Local Loop platform, which allows you to carry around your phone terminal when moving from room to room.

If you are enterprising you can even put the terminal inside your car when moving within the city.

While fixed wireless phones gives you similar benefits as that of a WLL limited mobility phone, the difference is that the former offers terminals which are bulkier like in fixed telephones as compared to the sleeky WLL mobile handsets.

While the WLL fixed wireless services is being offered by a number of basic telecom players like Bharti Telenet in Madhya Pradesh, HFCL in Punjab, MTNL in New Delhi and Mumbai and Shyam in Rajasthan, the key players are Reliance Infocomm and Tata Teleservices since they are offering these services in larger number of cities.

Let us take a look at how these two service providers stack up when it comes to fixed wireless segment.

In terms of technology, both Reliance and Tata offer the latest with code division multiple access (CDMA) 1X which is a third generation (3G) technology, which allow operators to give superior voice clarity, better connectivity and other value added features.

When it comes to tariff packaging also, there is not much of a difference, although Tata Indicom, the Tata Teleservices brand, offers you the flexibility to chose from seven packages with monthly rentals varying from a low of Rs 250 to a high of Rs 2,250.

Reliance customers can chose from three packages with monthly rentals of Rs 500, Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,500.

In terms of call charges also, there is not much difference with tariffs ranging between 90 paise to Rs 1.10 per call, depending on the monthly rentals you pay.

While calls to cellular phones is charged on a per minute basis, with the same amount you can talk to subscribers having a fixed or WLL phone for three minutes.

Which means that with 90 paise you can either talk to a cellular for a minute or to fixed line subscriber for three minutes.

Reliance, however, offers ISD calls at Rs 10 a minute through Plan 1500 (with Rs 1,500 as monthly rental), which is much lower than the market rate of Rs 16 per minute.

Both Reliance and Tata offers free calls worth the monthly fee that you pay.

When it comes to value added services, Reliance Infocomm's IndiaPhone takes the cake.

The company offers you a range of data applications like high-speed Internet connectivity at speeds up to 115kbps.

So you can surf the net even though there is no cable connecting your phone to the ISP. You don't even have to get a separate ISP connection.

While Tata Teleservices network is compatible for such data services it is only expected to launch its Internet services in a few months time.

Reliance is also targeting large and medium corporations and small enterprises to use the Reliance Fixed Wireless Terminal voice applications to connect their PBXnetworks and data applications for low cost countrywide application deployment like ATM connectivity, headquarters-branch connectivity, CRM applications and travel reservations applications.

Other features offered like two-way SMS capability, caller line identification, speakerphone, record of missed calls with timestamps, history of dialed and received calls, voice mail, phone book capable of storing up to 99 numbers, choice of ring tones and three-way conference call capability is offered by both Tata and Reliance.

So in this era of wireless communication if you want to convert your mundane fixed line telephone at your home into an intelligent feature rich phone, fixed wireless telephone could be the solution.

Statistics show that while 2 million new wireless phone subscribers are added every month, only a few thousand is added on a fixed line network.

However, despite all the conveniences attached to a wireless phone, it can sometimes be unpredictable. Call drops and data transmission errors are a frequent possibility.

The robustness, voice quality and the reliable data transmission capabilities of a wired phone laid on an optic fibre cable backbone can never be matched.


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