Punwire Paging Services, which offers the Page Me brand, has suffered a major setback following the company's failure to renew its radio broadcasting license with All India Radio (AIR).
The company has, as a result, been compelled to transfer more than 8,000 of its subscribers in six cities to the country's largest paging services firm, DSS Mobile Communications.
Punwire has run into major problems in shifting its 1000 odd subscribers to DSS in Calcutta, where its agitated employees have refused to transfer the subscribers' database to DSS which provides paging services under the brand name Mobilink.
This was confirmed by the respective operations incharge of DSS Mobile and Punwire in Calcutta. The transfer of subscribers to DSS brand Mobilink took place in those cities where Punwire's operations came to halt on June 24, 1998, following AIR action.
Punwire operates in 12 states and paging licences in the states are held by two group companies Punwire Paging Services and Punwire Mobile Communications. Punwire has been providing paging services through two different networks. One is its own dedicated network using Pocsag paging protocol and the other is the AIR network in cities such as New Delhi, Pune, Hyderabad, Calcutta and Bangalore where FM band or Frequency Modulated Radio Data System (FM-RDS) using 75 Khz bandwidth is available. "AIR has some spectrum bandwidth free and by inserting a sub carrier, we provide subsidiary services which was being used by Punwire," a senior AIR official in Calcutta said. "This comes in handy for those paging companies which want to start off quick services without entailing huge infrastructure costs," he said.
AIR had cut off the sub carrier from late June after Punwire failed to pay up Rs 40 lakh as renewal fees. Since DSS uses a different paging protocol _ (British) Post Office Code Standardisation Advisory Group (Pocsag) _ the pager units of all the Punwire subscribers tuned for the FMRDS has to be changed. It is estimated that there are 7.5 crore Pocsag pager subscribers in the world as against little over five lakh subscribers for FM-RDS. Pocsag can approximately accommodate five times more number of subscribers over FM-RDS and can be easily upgraded to high speed formats like Flex. "The transfer of the subscribers to the DSS fold from Punwire has been smooth in most of the cities except Calcutta," DSS sources said. Punwire had entered into an inter-city roaming pact with the largest paging services company, DSS Mobile, in April 1998. The Page Me - Mobilink alliance offers a `national' package allowing unlimited usage across all cities covered by the two for Rs 1000 a month and Rs 500 for state wide usage.