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|April 15, 1998||
DoT to monitor village phone revenues
The department of telecommunications has prudently decided to strictly monitor revenues from village public telephones. This is a reaction to the low revenues generated by VPTs in West Bengal, Haryana and Orissa.
VPTs are allegedly misused by panchayat officials and local leaders, according to a recent study commissioned by the DoT. There were fewer VPTs than required in the hinterland and these were often of poor quality.
Over 75 per cent of the VPTs were located at the homes and offices of local leaders and officials. The remaining either don't work or lack metering facilities.
Part of the problem lay in the fact that DoT staff in these states could not fix faults in the multiple access rural radio technology used in the VPTs. DoT officials put off VPTs after 5 pm and did little to maintain the batteries and solar panels that powered the VPTs. Low revenues have also been attributed to the low use of MARR.
To correct these problems, the DoT recently pulled in its lower rung staff for training in these aspects. But due to the shortage of personnel, the course was not as exhaustive as required. This, despite the government last year earmarking Rs 2 billion just to spruce up the VPT network.
Though DoT had originally decided to scrap the MARR technology, it has decided to continue with it since the hardware pile-up would cost it Rs 50 million.
-Compiled from the Indian media
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