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Home > City Resources > Communication > SMS in Tamil from BPL Mobile

SMS in Tamil from BPL Mobile
N. Parameshwaran

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.

SMS in TamilChinese 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 number. 

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 subscribers. 

BPL MobileR 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


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