BSNL satellite phones can work even inside flights and on ships as they depend on signals directly from satellites located around 35,700 km above the Earth
Telco giant Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has announced its plans to sell 10,000 satellite phones by March 2019. Anupam Shrivastava, the chairman of the telecom company said that this move has been taken after demands from corporates and states for the premium satellite phone services that BSNL had launched a year before, started coming.
Sold 4,000 handsets since May 2017
Shrivastava said that BSNL is “doing well” in its satellite phone services and “have sold 4,000 satellite phone handsets to defence, army, Border Security Force (BSF), disaster management agencies, ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corporation), Railways and some in the private sector.”
In comparison to terrestrial mobile towers, satellite phones offer communication services via satellites. These phones are useful as they can function anywhere even inside flights and on ships because they rely on signals coming directly from satellites, which are placed approximately 35,700 km above the Earth.
The telco has stated that it has earned Rs 100 crore revenue from this satellite phone services ever since its start in May 2017. Shrivastava said: “We have already hit a revenue of Rs 100 crore in one year from satellite phones, annualised business will remain Rs 100 crore even if we don’t do anything further. But we see a lot of potential and headroom for growth.”
Agencies handling disaster management, the state police, Indian Railways, BSF and others, even multinational companies, have mostly benefited from BSNL’s satellite phone services because recently they have realised the need to stay connected anywhere and anytime although services have expensive tariffs – about Rs 25-30 per minute. Traditional mobile networks cover approximately 25-30 km around towers and can send signals to phones located equal to or below the tower’s height.
Additional business from navy, hotels and fishing industry
Speaking about the company’s plan to target 10,000 handset sales in the financial year 2018-19, Shrivastava stated that navy, hotels and fishing trawlers are bringing additional business. “Fishing industry will be amongst the biggest users of the satellite phone. We are seeing interest from state governments of Kerala and Tamil Nadu for the fishing industry,” he added.
The telecom PSU that started the satellite phone services by aiming government agencies has now opened these services for non-commercial outfits as well, Shrivastava said. “The demand from government agencies was so huge in the first phase we decided to cater to that segment and transfer all the satellite communication of government to BSNL. We have now opened up services to others,” he added.
The satellite phone services were launched through INMARSAT. The International Mobile Satellite Organisation (IMSO) was set up under the aegis of United Nations in 1979 and India is one of its founding members.