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October 15, 1997


MTNL gives homebred WLL technology a chance

The Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited has decided to use indigenously developed 'wireless in local loop' technology for new telephone connections. It will select two companies for pilot projects through tender.

Four companies have the technology - Shyam Telecom, Crompton Greaves, Westel Wireless Systems and Electronics Corporation of India Limited. MTNL will have to choose two out of them.

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S Rajagopalan, chairman and managing director, MTNL, has said that each pilot project would have a capacity of 1,000 lines.

Generally, tenders are not floated for pilot projects. By deciding on the tender route, MTNL is injecting competition in an area where production has not started.

While backing the MTNL decision to rely on indigenous technology for the pilot projects, the industry feels the corporation should have awarded four pilot projects. "This would have enabled MTNL to asses the quality of equipment produced by the four companies," said an industry representative.

corDECT - as the technology is called, has been jointly developed by the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, and Midas, a Madras-based company. Analog Devices, the Massachusetts-based semiconductor giant, is the component supplier.

The technology was transferred to the four companies for manufacturing, selling and supporting the system in India.

The technology could not be tested in India as the government has not yet released the frequency for its use. China has already started field trials.

Bezing Wireless Communications Limited, a Chinese telecom major, has signed an agreement with the IIT for the transfer of technology.

SAT, a French Telecom giant and ABC Brazil, the largest telecom manufacturer in Brazil, and Ecckatel Brazil, another Brazilian manufacturer, have signed a memorandum of understanding with IIT for technology transfer.

"corDECT is one of the most cost effective WLL technologies in the world. Probably, this is what attracted the Chinese," according to Ashok Jhunjhunwala, professor, IIT, Madras.

If the corDECT technology is used to expand the existing telephone network, the cost of a telephone line works out to be Rs 11,000. If an operator set up a new network, the cost per line is Rs 13,000. For rural areas and small towns, the cost per line is Rs 13,000. This is on the assumption that there are 1,000 subscribers within a radius 10 km.

Another advantage of the state-of-the art technology is that it can support multimedia features as its speeds can be up to 64kbps. "These features will be incorporated in the technology by February next year," Jhunjhunwala said.

The product has been so designed that it can work at very low power, without air-conditioning. These features are absent in comparable WILL technologies.

The corDECT WLL system needs a total bandwidth allocation of 20 MHz in the 1880-1900 MHz band to provide telephone connection for tens of thousands of subscribers per km.

The system also allows limited neighbourhood mobility with the same speech quality as provided by a regular wired connection.

- Compiled from the Indian media

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