The mobile telephony revolution hit India more than a decade ago, but it is only now that the University of Pune (UoP) is reaping the full benefits of it. Finally, four cell phone towers have come up on the UoP premises to end years of patchy network on the sprawling campus.
After several complaints from students, professors and staff, the 411-acre campus of the UoP is at last fully within the coverage area of various mobile service providers. The UoP put up the four towers to cover the entire campus by entering into an agreement with America Towers Corporation (ATC).
These towers have antennae of different mobile operators. UoP Estate Department executive engineer R V Patil said: “This will be a win-win situation for the university and everybody else. These towers will earn the university revenue of around Rs 1 crore.
According to our agreement with ATC, each mobile operator will give Rs 1 lakh per month to the varsity as rent for using the university’s land for commercial purpose.”
The university’s Jaykar Library, the administration building, the new law department building and the SET guesthouse are the four spots where the new mobile towers have been built. In the first phase, Vodafone, Airtel and Idea customers have started receiving full range.
As the UoP has vast areas of dense woodland, the coverage before this was always spotty. Students residing in the UoP hostel were the worst affected.
“The situation was really pathetic,” a hostel resident said. “When I first came to the hostel, my Solapur-based parents got tense finding my mobile continuously out of range for two days. In emergency situations, it was really difficult to contact our near and dear ones because of literally zero range.”
Former officiating vice-chancellor Dr Sanjay Chahande had approved the proposal for constructing mobile towers on the campus during his tenure. Now the university is planning to initiate a special mobile plan for its employees.
“Till now the varsity was receiving huge landline bills from all teaching and non-teaching departments because of poor mobile range,” Patil said. “But now the picture is changing and the varsity administration may introduce a special mobile plan for its staff.”
Some people from the academic fraternity had a different view on the development. “According to me, there is no need to carry a mobile on the university campus,” Dr Sanjeev Sonavne, head of education department and senior UoP management council member, said.
“The government is also banning mobiles on academic campuses. As students, professors and officers get the privilege of being available on the mobile, it will certainly disturb the academic and research environment of the UoP.”
V-C in range
UoP Vice-Chancellor Dr W N Gade was also facing problems because of the patch network on campus. Poor range on his mobile often kept him “out of reach”. Now the first phase of implementing the mobile towers project has covered his work area.