C-DOT has upgraded its erstwhile telecom connecting switch rural automatic exchange (RAX) to the next generation network called main automatic exchange (MAX-NG). RAX was the first product to be developed by C-DOT 25 years ago, to help connect a smaller exchange to a larger exchange in a nearby city. The upgrade will be implemented through Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd across the country within next three years.
RAX was the first product developed by C-DOT to go into India’s telecom network at the historic city of Kittur, Karnataka, on 21st July 1986. RAX appeared on the scene at a time when country’s telecom network was way under-developed.
There was time when the tele-density was so low that there was one telephone for one hundred inhabitants. And rural teledensity was zero for all practical purposes. The greatest advantage of RAX was that it was designed for Indian conditions of high ambient temperatures, dust and unreliable power.
It required no air-conditioning. It was based on contemporary digital switching technology with microprocessor based controllers and had no moving parts, which gave it immunity against dust, the bane of electromechanical Strowger and Crossbar exchanges in India. Named 128 P RAX, it was a tiny 128 ports switch. It had only analog trunks to connect it to a larger exchange in a nearby city. It could cater to a total of 80 subscribers and had 24 analog trunks to connect to the city exchange. But in villages with practically no telephones, 80 was a big number. There must be a large number of villagers who made or received their first ever call through C-DOT RAX.
128 P RAX was successful beyond all expectations. It acquired a legendary status in no time at all. Ministers, MP5 and MLAs would promise RAXe5 to their constituents and then put pressure on DoT to install them as fast as possible. It extended connectivity, including STD, ISD to rural areas. 26 manufacturers went into RAX production. RAX-a-day programme was started by DoT which grew to something like 32 RAXes a day. By March 1993, more than 10000 RAXes had been produced. Other developing countries evinced great interest in RAX and exports to Vietnam, Nepal and Bangladesh followed.