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BSNL launches satellite phone services in India; call rates expected to start at Rs 35 per minute

Satphone services will first be rolled out for government agencies, followed by common citizens.

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BSNL has today launched a satellite phone service in India, whereby Indian government and private sector customers will be able to  place calls using Inmarsat’s technology. BSNL has signed an agreement with London-based satellite services company ‘INMARSAT’ to provide satellite-based telecom services in India. The service will cover remote areas where traditional mobile networks are not present.

IT Minister Manoj Sinha was quoted as saying that in the initial stage, the phone will be given to disasters management agency, state police, railways, BSF personnel and other government agencies. He further added that later the service will be made available to common citizens. One of the scenarios mentioned was the use of these phones when travelling in flights or ships. INMARSAT has been working with the Government of India for over 30 years now, and according to reports, the satellite gateway was built at an estimated cost of $8 million. Under licence from India’s Department of Telecom, the new GSPS gateway which is located in Ghaziabad, UP, will enable BSNL and INMARSAT to meet the requirements of satphone users throughout the country.

“This is an exciting day for BSNL as it brings reliable, secure voice communications, powered by Inmarsat’s fourth generation satellite network, within the reach of groups and communities in areas with little or no connectivity. This is an important step forward in achieving the goals of Digital India, and ensuring that connectivity is available to all,” Anupam Shrivastava, Chairman and Managing Director of BSNL said. Though it is not official yet, reports claim that call rates for satellite phones could start from around Rs 35 per minute.

The satellite phone aka satphone service will be enabled through INMARSAT. It is a British satellite communications company founded in 1979. In India, the International Mobile Satellite Organization has set up one gateway required for satellite phone service in Pune under Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited which is now known under the name Tata Communications Ltd. However, with the new licence norms kicking in 2001, it was made mandatory to set up a gateway in the country for satellite phone services, and currently there is no company that holds the permit for the same. Satellite phones in India are presently provided by TCL. ALSO READ: China unveils first smartphone for satellite communications network

In total there are 1,532 authorized satellite phone connections that can operate within country, and a majority of them are used by security forces. Apart from that, TCL has also issued 4,143 permits for use of such phones on ships. The basic use of Satellite phone is to provide services in disaster situations and places where there is no cellular/landline network or connection. With the launch of satphones, both the company hope that communications will be “both simplified and seamless” for users in India.

  • Published Date: May 24, 2017 7:45 PM IST