The Central Executive Committee (CEC) of BSNL Employees Union (BSNLEU) on Friday asked the BSNL unions and associations to “create compulsions on the government” for removing “road-blocks” in launch of BSNL 4G service. According to the BSNLEU, its CEC held a two day online meeting on September 10 and September 11, 2020, passing resolutions on multiple issues including the “denial of 4G technology” to BSNL. The CEC is said to have expressed its “deep anguish over the unbearable delay being caused” in the launch of BSNL 4G service.
BSNL Revival “Unimaginable” Without 4G Service
It was highlighted that the operator is “already lagging” four years behind the private operators due to lack of 4G technology. The CEC is said to have highlighted that the BSNL revival is “unimaginable” without the launch of BSNL 4G service. However, it was noted that the “developments taking place in connection” with the launch of BSNL 4G service to be “very disturbing.”
The CEC said that the operator could have converted its 49,300 4G compatible base transceiver stations (BTSs) into 4G BTSs by spending around Rs 1500 crore. Crucially, it was said that the operator could have procured 15,000 more BTSs through the tender by placing an add-on order.
“BSNL Management could have launched it’s 4G service, even without making fresh procurement of equipments,” the CEC of BSNLEU highlighted on Friday. “It is an undeniable fact that the BSNL Management had pathetically failed in carrying out this task.”
Further, the CEC noted that the tender floated by BSNL to procure 4G equipments at the cost of Rs 9300 crore was cancelled “as per directive of the government.”
“It is laughable that, BSNL has been accused by the Commerce Ministry, that the Company has floated tender to procure 4G equipments from multinational vendors, without giving any opportunity to the domestic vendors,” the CEC of BSNLEU highlighted on Friday.
The CEC of the BSNLEU said that the Department of Commerce nor the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) “were able to tell which domestic vendor is manufacturing 4G equipments with proven technology.”
It emerged in late June that ITI, a PSU engaged in the manufacturing of telecom and defense equipment had set its sights on BSNL 4G tenders. The company had earlier signed an MoU with Tech Mahindra for the new generation wireless technology. R M Agarwal, CMD of ITI in a video interview to CNBC TV18 had said that the MoU was largely dedicated to the BSNL 4G tender. As part of the partnership, ITI will productionise 4G upgradable to 5G Radio Access Network. Tech Mahindra is said to be tasked with the responsibility of providing the software IPs, implementation and integration services along with the operations and maintenance services.
“Media reports say that the ITI has tied up with Tech Mahindra to produce and supply 4G equipments to BSNL,” the CEC of BSNLEU highlighted on Friday. “However, it is a fact that, neither ITI nor Tech Mahindra is presently possessing the capability of manufacturing and supplying 4G equipments to BSNL.”
Present Condition of BSNL is Very Disturbing: CEC of BSNLEU
The CEC of BSNLEU said that the operator can now neither procure 4G equipments from local vendors nor from international vendors and that the “present condition of BSNL is very disturbing.”
“BSNLEU strongly believes that a conspiracy has been hatched to deny 4G equipments to BSNL and thereby to sabotage it’s revival,” it noted. “BSNLEU is of the firm view that, the cancellation of BSNL’s 4G tender is only to clip it's wings, so that the telecom PSU does not offer stiff competition to Reliance Jio. This can be construed as a part of the government’s overall strategy of aiding Reliance Jio to monopolise the telecom sector.”
The CEC of the BSNLEU through the meeting is said to have decided to “organize a campaign programme” pushing for the launch of BSNL 4G service.
“This CEC meeting calls upon the Central Headquarters of BSNLEU to take immediate steps to unite all the unions and associations for organising a very powerful campaign programme among the employees and among the general public, in the months of September and October, which should culminate in a strike action thereafter,” it said.