BSNL Employee Group is now looking for intervention from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to speed up the delayed revival process of the state-run telecom operator. In a written letter to PM Modi, the employee group of BSNL asked to hasten the launch of 4G services in India alongside speeding up assets' monetisation. The Union Cabinet announced a massive revival package worth around Rs 70,000 crore in 2019, but the process is moving at a snail pace, which is irking the BSNL employees and employee groups. Everyone expected BSNL to launch 4G services right after the revival package's approval, but that didn't happen. As part of the revival package, BSNL floated 4G tenders, but disputes with DoT on multiple aspects forced the delay.
BSNL Employee Group Asks PM Modi Office to Upgrade 49,300 Base Transceiver Stations
BSNL struggles to compete with private telcos- Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea due to the lack of 4G services. As private telcos continue to invest heavily in improving 4G coverage and 4G speeds, BSNL users still use 3G services and the data speeds are miles behind the 4G speeds offered by the rival telecom operators.
K. Sebastin, general secretary of the Sanchar Nigam Executives Association (SNEA), in the letter to PM Modi, said the revival plan is being delayed because of the 4G services launch and "delay in land monetisation and clearing the debts." Furthermore, the BSNL Employee Group asked the government to direct the telco to upgrade 49,300 base transceiver stations. The upgradation of existing towers will cost around Rs 5,100 crore and the employee group says it is the cheapest and best way to roll out commercial 4G services. This news is reported by ET Telecom.
As noted, BSNL is facing differences with DoT on floating 4G tender. The government is asking the telco to go with locally-made 4G gear, whereas BSNL believes it should go with foreign players like Ericsson or Nokia. In the past, BSNL cited that gear from local manufacturers may pose challenges in the future and also highlighted that a 4G tender from local vendors is double the price of global telecom gear makers.
On the one hand, we have the Indian government, which is aggressively pushing for the Atmanirbhar Bharat campaign. On the other hand, we have BSNL which is opposing the move on the back of several factors like differences in tender prices and never used equipment.