Want marks in a jiffy? It costs you dearly

Want marks in  a jiffy? It costs you dearly
Highlights

Private mobile service providers charge exorbitantly for such calls and even fail to deliver in some casesA ...

Private mobile service providers charge exorbitantly for such calls and even fail to deliver in some casesA

cos2Naresh Nunna

Dialing a number, or sending an SMS to a telephone number to get intermediate marks displayed on the mobile screen in a jiffy sounds like a great convenience, but many students had to pay a dear price for it as was witnessed last week when I year Intermediate marks were released.

Most websites display the results for free as soon as the State government releases the results online. However, to enable students living in remote parts with no access to internet, Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) and SMS services were introduced as part of m-governance. It is presumed that the value added services (VAS) like IVRS of the mobile service providers, would score over the availability of result on the official websites, as the accessibility of the internet is still small compared to the telephone.

"IVRS is used by certain examination boards to deliver individual results to candidates. Using the service, a candidate can get his/her exam result through a mobile or a landline phone," Syed Mohammad, founder CMD of Voicegate Technologies told The Hans India. Voicegate has tied up with BSNL to provide IVRS and SMS services to students of Andhra Pradesh.

However, many private mobile service providers are exploiting the student's anxiety by levying exorbitant tariffs for IVRS and SMS services they provide to students who want to know the results. After the recently released Junior Intermediate results (on Sunday), thousands of students were at the receiving end, as their mobiles were charged heavily. "I called up from my mobile to Airtel on 550770 on April 21 a few minutes after Intermediate first year results were announced.

I made three futile calls of duration 119 seconds, 85 seconds and 126 seconds respectively and was charged Rs 24, Rs 24 and Rs 36 respectively. After confirming the language and hall ticket number, the call got cut abruptly and the amount was deducted from my account. This was not just my experience, but even my friends who tried to know the result from other mobile service providers such as Idea and Vodafone were also charged heavily for vain calls," Vineela, a junior Inter student, lamented.

"Ample number of telephone lines are crucial for effective IVRS services to help candidates get a swift reply to their queries on dialing. The machine itself cannot tell the results on its own. After the results are compiled and fed into the system, more lines should be dedicated to it for dissemination," Jayalakshmi, Senior Sub Divisional Engineer (VAS), BSNL, told The Hans India.

According to her, BSNL dedicated 400 ports (or lines) to deliver results, while connecting 200 lines to landline services and another 200 to mobile services. VoiceGate Technologies, in association with BSNL, will provide the service. "The 20-second pulse rate-based service to the phone number 1255225, would enable callers to get results. Students may also get the result through SMS services to 53345 and 53346 numbers," Chandra Sekhar, JTO- BSNL said.

"Private VAS players, who charge nearly three times more than BSNL, do not dedicate so many lines to IVRS. BSNL tries to limit the call duration to 40-50 seconds to accommodate more callers. So, BSNL manages to attend to nearly 600 callers per minute and disseminate the result whereas private mobile networks deliberately extend the call duration to charge them for call time and thus make more money," an official told The Hans India.

The sources further said that the market of mobile value added services (MVAS) runs into hundreds of crores of rupees. There's a tremendous opportunity for VAS players to cash on the education sector with the initiations like mEducation through interactive English language learning services, competitive examination preparation solutions, tutor-on-call and vocational training.

Amongst all the services, the income from IVRS and SMS on exam results is contributing a lion's share to their profits. The education and talent development divisions of software companies, e-learning groups are tying up with mobile service providers and are foraying the market to exploit the hapless students, who invariably cling to telephones to know their marks soon.

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