Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), together with SIS Infosystems has launched telephones with video calling capabilities, in what is a much wider attempt to replace several of the existing Public Call Offices with public Video Call Offices. 

In his statement to reporters, BSNL Chairman and MD, R K Upadhyay affirmed that using the telephones with video calling capabilities, BSNL will set up public Video Calling Offices (VCOs), where users will be able to make voice calls to any phone and video calls to any other IP (Internet-based) phone. 

A 45-second video calling session at a VCO will cost a user Rs 3, which is inclusive of the 30 percent commission for the franchise owner. Upadhyay was further quoted as saying, “There will be no need to use computers for making video calls for user of these video phones.”


VCOs to replace PCOs 

Upadhyay further shared that a major chunk of the state-run operator’s revenues came from landline phones, and they hope to improve on it with the launch of this new service. 

Sam Pitroda, advisor to the PM inaugurated the service, who believed that the service is crucial to reach those in the rural pockets of the country. “It will bridge the gap between urban and rural India. This will be a platform for growth as this network can be used for purposes like job interview, tele-medicine, tele-education and host of other services,” he said. 

In his statement, BSNL's Senior General Manager for Broadband, A K Jain shared that approximately 770 PCOs have confirmed to shift their business to VCOs. He went on to add that they aim to have 10,000 VCOs set-up across the country.

The state-run operator will offer different categories of VCO franchisees depending on the services, which franchisee owners want to provide.

SIS officials clarified that those looking for franchisee will have to pay for VCO devices, prices of which start from Rs 25,000. They will also have to sign an agreement for the business.

Interestingly, as per an official, there will also be VCOs with medical devices attached to it for remote diagnosis of a patient. Other services are in the pipeline, and their prices will vary.

Last month BSNL was planning to revamp its landline services to introduce a host of modern facilities such as video calling and free call transfer from mobile phones across to its users. The changes were expected to be in place by the end of the current financial year, and BSNL planned to invest Rs 400 crore in the venture. 

Shedding some more light on the changes lined up, BSNL's Chairman and Managing Director, R K Upadhyay was quoted by reports as saying, “We have started process of converting all our exchanges in to NGN (Next Generation Network) exchanges. This will bring to landlines all facilities that are currently available on mobile phones like video calling, call transfer, directory among others.” He added that there are 37,639 telephone exchanges in all, of which 30,008 are based on technology from C-DoT, while the others are from imported technology.

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