The Department of Posts plans to offer facilities to collect bills for more telecom companies. Initially, this will be launched in Chennai and depending on how it works, the service will be extended to other parts of Tamil Nadu, according to Ms Vatsala Raghu, Chief Postmaster General, Tamil Nadu.
The department on Friday launched the facility for Tata Teleservices Ltd.
Addressing a press conference after inaugurating the service at the Anna Road Head Post Office, Ms Raghu said the department is in the process of customising the software for Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, Touchtel and Reliance Infocomm Ltd.
Among the cellular service providers, Hutch has submitted a proposal to have its bills paid at post offices and the bills of AirTel could be paid at post offices.
Ms Raghu said that 39 post offices in Chennai have been identified for collecting the bills of telecom companies. These have been provided with computers loaded with the customised software for the scheme, called e-Bill Post Service. The software allows the telecom companies to know the payment details immediately.
She said that the department is keen to make use of the vast postal network across the State to generate additional income. For each bill paid at the post offices, the department would get Rs 5 and if the money were to be delivered at the offices of the companies, an additional Re 1 would be collected.
The department would shortly disburse micro-credit to self-help groups through the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development. It would also begin marketing non-life insurance products from Oriental Insurance Co Ltd. The target for Chennai this year is Rs 92 crore from business development (that included activities such as speed post, express post and e-Bill Post) and so far Rs 82 crore has been collected.
Mr S. Ramakrishnan, Managing Director, Tata Teleservices Ltd, said with the customer base growing, it is necessary for the company to create multiple outlets for subscribers to pay their bills. The company is in discussions with the Department of Posts to see if the e-Bill Post facility could be offered in more places, especially the rural areas where the department has an extensive post office network.
At present, Tata Teleservices has about 1.60 lakh subscribers in Tamil Nadu — about a lakh for the mobile service and the balance for fixed lines. Its services are available in eight cities and towns in the State and over the next three to six months, the company would extend the same to more than 170 towns.
It would spend Rs 1,000 crore in the next 12 to 24 months in each of the six circles in the country where it offers its services. The investment would be to lay more optical fibre cables, erect more base station towers and increase the capacity of the switches, he said.