Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has been the talk of the town for quite some time. Some people believe that it is eating away the hard-earned money of taxpayers, and some believe that the telco will be alright once its 4G comes. The arguments of a lot of people who don’t believe in the current plans of the telco end up in privatising it.
There’s no denying that privatising BSNL might make it profitable in the long run. It would bring in more competitive management, and certain unions and bodies that interfere with the telco’s business won’t have the power to do so anymore. However, a few months back, Sanjay Dhotre, the Minister of State for Communications, said that BSNL wouldn’t be privatised given the telco would be able to roll out 4G in the next 18-24 months.
BSNL 4G Plans Looking Stale at the Moment
BSNL rolling out 4G can indeed turn things around for the company. However, it needs to be fast or else use cases of 4G will diminish by the time BSNL comes out with it. BSNL has already proposed a hybrid 4G tender to fast-track the network rollout process and also not ignore the Indian equipment manufacturers at the same time.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had already provided the state-run telco with PAN-India liberalised spectrum before the spectrum auctions took place in March. At present, BSNL is surviving because of the revival package announced by the government for the telco in 2019.
The telco already has 4G airwaves. All it needs to do is ensure that 4G networks are rolled out as fast as possible so that people stop questioning its future. The move to not privatise the telco isn’t a wrong one, but there needs to be a plan to ensure that BSNL is on the right track with its 4G and that everything is done on or before the time set by the telco.
If there are huge delays like in the past, there would be no point in rolling out 4G networks PAN-India for BSNL. But if the telco can start rolling out 4G networks in the medium-term and complete PAN-India coverage in the next 15 to 18 months, the telco might have a chance of survival.