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Another cellular sop

Closed User Group is a relatively new facility extended by mobile operators to corporates to facilitate free flow of communication between users.



IN THE LOOP: CUG helps connect user-group.

THE CLOSED User Group (CUG) concept in mobile phones has opened up newer channels of communication for the upwardly mobile, heavy-duty user.

CUG is a facility, wherein a group of subscribers within an organisation can talk (or send messages) to each other at a differential cost or for free, thereby significantly reducing the overall cost of communication for the company. The service can be tailor-made as per the requirement of the client, explains Idea Cellular, Chief Operating Officer, S.K. Subramaniam.

"It is predominantly used for messaging though," says Airtel customer care executive, Sai Kumar.

Explaining the mechanics of the concept, he says, "Subscribers are tied in a pre-specified loop whereby they can send or receive messages to all users in the group, at one turn."

The configurations of the user-group numbers are captured in the system at the service centre to facilitate the benefits of CUG. Idea Cellular's recent deal with Hyderabad Photo Journalists for the same service to extend CUG benefits to all is a case in point.

Amplifying the payback of the package, an Idea call centre executive explains, "all the members can be in touch with others, wherever they are. Easy accessibility is the first option on mind for anyone upgrading to CUG."

For several corporates in Hyderabad, CUG is an indispensable element. "It facilitates a free flow of communication and thereby increases the productivity of the employees. In the process, the cost of communication is also appreciably reduced for the company," says Quality Call Analyst, Buena Menon. "In our office, the incidence of a sudden confer-call to be attended by all mid-level managers at short notice was a perennial problem. But with CUG, a lot of valuable time can now be used productively," she adds.

Service providers are vying with each other to woo more customers for CUG by providing more sops. For instance, caller identification, call forwarding are some of the options that come free with a CUG package.

Let us examine Idea Cellular's CUG-450-plan, which entails free outgoing calls within members of the group. Outgoing calls outside the group are charged, (cellular phones: Rs. 1.99/min, fixed/WLL lines Rs. 1.99/min). The billing pulse is 60 seconds. In addition, there are free mobile-to-mobile STD minutes per month and free ISD minutes too. The number of users, however, should not be less than 20, says COO Subramaniam, adding that corporate plans are even cheaper, convenient and come with more utilities.

SOUVIK CHOWDHURY

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