State-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) has announced the launch of landline telephones with video calling facility.
Built in cooperation with SIS Infosystems, the new BSNL phones will mainly be used in the public PCO (Public Call Office) booths, whereby users will be able to make a video call to any internet-based phone.
BSNL Chairman & Managing Director R K Upadhyay said that the users of the company's new phones wouldn't need any computers for making video calls.
Announcing the launch of the new phones, Upadhyay said, "We will convert existing Public Call Offices (PCOs) to VCOs with these phones. People will be able to make voice calls to any phone and video calls to any other IP (internet based) phone."
A 45 second video call made from VCO will cost Rs 3, which will include 30 per cent commission for the owner of the franchise. As landline phones account for most of the company's revenue, the landline telephones with video calling facility is clearly one of its initiatives to boost revenue.
The new service was inaugurated by Sam Pitroda - advisor to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Pitroda emphasized that the use of video phones would make it easier to reach rural masses. Around 800 PCOs have already confirmed their plans to shift their business to VCOs, while BSNL aims to set up 10,000 VCOs across the country.
In the first six months, BSNL will open VCOs in twelve states, including Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Goa and Gujarat. In the second phase, the service will be extended to southern and eastern parts of the country as well.
The video calling service from a BSNL VCO is currently allows users to make video calls within India only.