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December 31, 1997

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BPL is delivering email messages on
pagers. Will the Gulf Malayalees bite?

BPL Connect Network is ready for Internet paging and email notification. With this facility, anybody with Internet connectivity can send a paging message to any subscriber in the three South Indian states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

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Similarly email can be sent to anyone who has a BPL Connect pager. BPL is the first service provider in the country to offer email notification service to paging service subscribers, Ramankutty Nair, general manager and head, paging, BPL Wireless Telecommunications, claimed.

Recently, BPL Connect, the paging service company of the BPL Group, launched its latest value-added service, Connect Overseas, in Ernakulam, Kerala, whereby customers in Kerala can page messages to relatives and friends in the United Arab Emirates.

At the other end of the operation, the recipient should have registered with Memo Express, BPL's service partner in the UAE.

This is the first time that such Memo pager link through the Internet has been tried out in the UAE as well as the first such experiment on the Indian subcontinent, Brian Wilkie, Memo Express managing director, claimed.

As part of an introductory offer, Wilkie said, charges would be waived for the next three months of operation for all UAE customers who receive such messages from Kerala.

These value-added services enable customers registered with Memo Express to send cheap, quick and confidential messages efficiently to relatives and friends, Wilkie said.

The expatriate Indian has to register with Memo Express either in the Silver Scheme by paying a monthly sum of 25 dirhams for sending 20 messages of 20 words or the Gold Scheme, by paying 50 dirhams for 50 messages of the same word length.

The messages would be collected at the call collect facility of Memo Express in the UAE, clubbed together and transmitted over the Internet to the recipient BPL Connect customers in India.

The messages would be automatically received on the pagers of the BPL customers, Wilkie said. The whole transaction would be completed in less than an hour.

Of the 1.2 million Indians living and working in the Gulf countries, the target population is the 750,000 South Indian residents, mainly from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

For the non-resident Indian, it would cost just the local call charge of one dirham to send instantaneous messages to friends and relatives in India. This, in turn, would shore up the customer base further from the current level of 25,000 for Kerala alone, Nair pointed out.

BPL has developed this facility in association with Motorola, Memo Express and Global Net. Mohan Menon, vice-president and director, distribution, for India and SAARC countries for Motorola, said, "Over the last two months, pagers with BPL Connect frequency are available in over 20 retail outlets in UAE. With the help of our distributors, Global Net, we will expand the distribution to over 50 outlets in the UAE by March 1998."

"The response from Keralites in the UAE has been tremendous,'' Wilkie said. "Since the operational launch last month in Dubai, we have been constantly receiving calls from people of all income levels asking for information. Now that the two-way service has also been launched, we will be taking on extra operators at Dubai to cope with the expected rush,'' he said.

These value-added services are expected to reinforce the position of BPL paging service in the country. Paging subscribers in India have grown to 650,000 since its launch two years ago, Menon said. It is estimated to grow to 5 million by 2000.

The growth in the international market has been equally spectacular, from 28 million in 1991 to 115 million in 1996, Menon said.

Spurring the growth have been countries of the Asian region, with 35 per cent of Singapore's population and 30 per cent of South Korea's population carrying a pager today.

Earlier: Crucial parts of the paging industry's strategy are missing

- Compiled from the Indian media

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