BSNL launches wireless broadband in Gujarat

CIOL Bureau
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AHMEDABAD, INDIA: Bharat Sanchar Nigam, Ltd (BSNL), India's state-owned and largest telecommunications company, and SOMA Networks, Inc., a provider of WiMAX solutions, had launched "BSNL Wireless Broadband" service in Gujarat.


India had low Internet penetration of around 4.9 percent (compared with 68 percent in the US), while broadband penetration is even lower, at less than half a percent. This service would aim to significantly improve India's broadband tele-density. Now with this launch, BSNL's wireless broadband service could reach remote places with no wired infrastructure also.

BSNL's wireless broadband initiative would be the country's most significant telecom project, instituted towards realising the Indian Government's broadband mandate of installing 20 million connections by 2010.

M Sahu, Principal Secretary of Industry and Mines of Gujarat, said: "Our Chief Minister has termed the 21st century as the 'Age of Knowledge', and for it to spread - to allow a free flow of thoughts and exchange of ideas - connectivity is important, connectivity that is not limited by wires. We look at it as an important part of our industrial development infrastructure and a part of the societal fibre to connect people, to help them work together, and put Gujarat at the forefront of economic development."


Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) would be the first enterprise to benefit from this service in Gujarat. GIDC would make this service available to industries housed in their estates, and also use this service in their own administrative offices.

The Indian Government had also underlined the mandate to provide broadband coverage to all secondary schools, public health care centres and village panchayats (Local rural bodies) by the end of 2009.

Satya Pal, chief general manager, BSNL Gujarat Telecom Circle, said: "We are extremely pleased that the people of Gujarat are the first to benefit from this ambitious wireless broadband project. BSNL's service is not just for the urban elites, but will connect India's underserved population with the same high-quality broadband experience, but without the wait and without the wires."

Yatish Pathak, founder and chief executive officer, SOMA Networks, said: "This commercial launch in Gujarat is a historic milestone in SOMA's operating partnership with BSNL, and a result of SOMA's technology integrated with BSNL's fibre backbone network. We are greatly honoured to partner with BSNL, who provided us the opportunity to bring this technology benefit to the people of India. Over the next few weeks this service will be launched in the states of Goa and Andhra Pradesh, to be soon followed by Maharashtra."

The new BSNL wireless broadband service would offer a range of service plans based on bandwidth rates, providing speeds from 256 kbps to 2 Mbps. Residential plans included two email addresses and 5 MB of storage. Business plans included up to four email addresses, and 5 MB of storage.