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February 17, 1998


Postal department plans 200 more VSATs

Email this story to a friend. As a part of building up its intranet, the Department of Posts is planning to add 200 very small aperture terminals to its existing network of 75 VSATs.

While no moves towards procurement of the VSATs have been made yet, "the deployment would be spread over the Ninth Plan period. We have not yet decided whether to buy the VSATs or take them on lease'', said the officer on special duty, technology, DoP.

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Explaining this stand, the OSD said that the DoP is a vast organisation and a correspondingly huge network must be able to keep pace with new technologies.

"Leasing might be a good option, as we want to be ready to change to better VSATs or better technology,'' he said.

If going in for an outright purchase, the cost involved would be Rs 100 million, at an average rate of Rs 500,000 per VSAT. While the DoT would be providing the hub service, Bangalore-based India Satcom Limited, the present VSAT implementers for the DoP will continue with the new job too.

For the DoP, which started its modernisation programme in early Nineties as part of the Universal Postal Union's Seoul Convention of 1982, the VSAT network would be very crucial in increasing its business and reach.

"The DoP, as part of its public commitment, reaches and serves remote places. Just last month we installed a VSAT in Port Blair and we have one in Lakshadweep too,'' said the OSD. This, he said, is in spite of the fact that business traffic is the first consideration while choosing a location for VSATs.

The VSAT network is used for satellite and corporate money orders, hybrid mail and track and trace for the Speed Post service.

The money order and hybrid mail services, which are one year old, involve electronic transmission of the funds and the mail content, while the mail is physically delivered at the other end.

One can get an idea of the business that the corporate and satellite money orders are bringing in if one goes by the figures for the Madras region.

Sources in Madras say the region alone has around Rs 30 million of money order business (transactions) last month.

Apart from the actual VSAT stations, there are over 280 extended satellite money order centres, which are dial-up extensions to the VSAT stations. "This has enabled us to reach remote areas which are otherwise unserviced,'' said S T Baskaran, chief postmaster general, Tamil Nadu Circle.

For instance, an urgent money order from Asansol would be transmitted to a place such as Vellore, which has an ESMO, in about 15 minutes.

The Tamil Nadu Circle has recently added 30 ESMOs in places such as Udhagamandalam, Wellington, Hosur, Mettupalayam, Dharmapuri, Sivakasi, Rajapalayam, Kodaikanal, Tenkasi and Kanchipuram.

"Apart from the above services, the VSAT network will be our information backbone and our management information system,'' said the OSD.

Also for front-end services, the DoP is planning to get 4,000 more multi-purpose counter machines, which essentially are stand-alone PCs, to take care of registered posts and parcels.

- Compiled from the Indian media

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