Centre plans to give 12 million CDMA sets to the poor

The scheme will be funded through Universal Services Obligations Fund — a fund to facilitate telecom services in rural areas.

NEW DELHI: THE government plans to use over 12 million low- cost CDMA-based handsets currently lying unused in the warehouses of private telecom companies in India and China to facilitate its mega scheme to empower the poor with 2.5 crore mobiles.

The state- owned BSNL has been chosen to facilitate this pan- India mobile scheme.

BSNL wants to cash-in on the sop because though it has built a pan- India CDMA network and has spectrum in the 800 MHz band in all 20 telecom circles it operates, it has less than 5 million subscribers on this platform compared to nearly 100 million subscribers who use its GSM services.

Officials said the loss- making BSNL could be allowed to lease out its CDMA mobile network to private operators. Sources said BSNL, under the new National Telecom Policy- 2012, can lease out its CDMA network as Mobile Virtual Network Operators ( MVNOs) to private telcos.

The business model of an MVNO involves buying airtime from existing operators that own telecom infrastructure ( the BSNL) and selling it to consumers under their own brand and companies.

BSNL, which will select the mobile phone on the basis of competitive bidding, has accumulated a loss of Rs 25,258 crore in the past four years. With over 10 crore of the 90- crore mobile subscribers, its market share is 11.22 per cent.

Strangely, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had conducted a pilot project with a help of private telecom companies involving over 150 self- help groups of poor women in Noida to study the impact of mobile use by the poor. But DoT had not found the project very encouraging. According to an official, poor women involved in the pilot project did not benefit as they were illiterate and the mobile phones were misused and even sold.

The scheme will be funded through Universal Services Obligations Fund — a fund to facilitate telecom services in rural areas.


CDMA or Code Division Multiple Access is a competing cell phone service technology to GSM. It uses a ‘ spread- spectrum’ technique where electromagnetic energy is spread to allow for a signal with a wider bandwidth.

This allows multiple people on multiple cell phones to be ‘ multiplexed’ over the same channel to share a bandwidth of frequencies.

Reproduced From Mail Today. Copyright 2013. MTNPL. All rights reserved.


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