Here is yet another 'first' from the company which has quite a
few 'firsts' to its credit. BPL Mobile has introduced
SMS service in Tamil and Malayalam. The company also plans to launch
its SMS service in Marathi and Hindi in Jan 2002. Though Airtel
had announced the launch of SMS service the same day, BPL Mobile
has developed the technology for vernacular SMS in-house.
BPL Innovision Technology has developed the 'Coded Picture Messaging
Technology' (CPMT) that facilitates sending and receiving SMS
in Tamil and other languages.
mobile users already have the facility of sending SMS from the keypad
of the mobile phone itself, since they have Mandarin alphabets instead
of English alphabets on the keypads. In India however,
with so many languages, a single language keypad may not be possible
for the time being. It is in this context that BPL Mobile
has developed CPMT.
The technology involves a set of pre-configured messages in the
vernacular language stored as images on CPMT. Keying in the
particular code on the mobile phone will give the subscriber access
to these pre-configured messages. So the next time you want
to SMS your friend asking where he is, all you have to do is type
in TAM P 501 and download the Tamil message 'Yenga irkuringe' (Where
are you?) to your mobile phone by dialling 12444 and forwarding
it to your friend, who will see the message in Tamil script.
The user can also directly send messages to the recipient by simply
keying in the message code followed by the recipient's mobile phone
What about sending a SMS in Tamil to a friend who is subscribing
to another operator? Company officials state that, while the
person may be able to receive the message in Tamil, he will not
be able to reply, as he will not be able to access the service.
The complete list of messages is compiled in a small pocket diary.
There are also plans to bring in technology, which would allow these
messages to be stored on a SIM card. The Tamil messaging service
will be charged at 50 paise per message for both pre-paid and post-paid
A Venkitachalam, Chief Operating Officer, BPL Mobile, Tamil
Nadu and Kerala said, "The service was conceptualised and developed
as a result of user feedback. Surveys revealed that users
were willing to make more frequent use of messaging services, if
the option to communicate in their mother tongue was provided.
We have seen a exponential growth in the SMS traffic in the past
one year. In fact in Tamil Nadu SMS has grown from 25,000
messages a day about four months back to over 1,00,000 SMS in a
day. With this latest service, we hope to make this technological
innovation available to the vast majority of our subscribers, who
are more comfortable in their mother tongue".
SMS in the Indian scenario
There has indeed been an explosion as far as SMS usage in India
is concerned. 'A new language' is how many people have
described the SMS phenomenon. In India over 7 million SMS
is sent per day and over 0.2 billion a month. This should
be seen against global figures of around 26 billion SMS per month.
The catch here is, while the SMS traffic has been growing at the
rate of 10% with 60% of mobile users sending and receiving SMS,
the user base has not been growing at the same rate. People
not being too comfortable with using SMS in English could be a major
reason for the not so prolific use of SMS. With the advent
of messaging services in vernacular languages, this could be a thing
of the past.
|Text : Joseph Pradeep Raj R