Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) needs to get going after the bailout package that the government has announced for the state-run telco. BSNL has received a relief package worth Rs 1.64 lakh crore from the centre. This is massive and shows the intent of the Indian government to keep the telecom sector balanced with the presence of a state-run telco to compete with the private companies. But is BSNL really fighting with the private companies? Not really! BSNL doesn't have a PAN-India 4G network yet, and it will take at least two years for the telco to build it. This means somewhere around 2024, BSNL will have a 4G network that will cover the entire country.
A good differentiator for BSNL would be using homegrown technology. Private telcos have taken help from foreign gear vendors. This would enable BSNL is getting an advantage in marketing over the private telcos. The telco has done successful 4G trials with TCS (Tata Consultancy Services). The only thing that's left now is the rollout of 4G.
For that as well, the government has taken care of the capex spending on the relief package it announced recently. BSNL has also been allotted 4G spectrum from the government, which was mentioned in the relief package. The government has done its part to the most extent. Now it is the turn of BSNL to show some performance gains.
The state-run telco already has millions of fans. It needs to strategize better in order to retain customers and add new ones. Just cheaper tariffs won't do the trick. Gone are the days when users were satisfied with getting average data speeds and poor network quality for a lower cost. In general, since everything is turning digital and 5G is on the verge to launch, users will expect a decent network experience from whichever telecom operator they are purchasing services from.
BSNL has a big responsibility to show the Indian consumers that the trust which the government has shown in the telco by giving it such a big relief package is the right thing. How BSNL will do it, only time will tell.
Telecom Minister has Set Things Straight for the Employees
For now, the telecom minister, Ashwini Vaishnaw, has told the employees of the telco that no more poor performance will be tolerated. In the words of Vaishnaw, the employees who won't work will be removed from the company. BSNL will also need to jump to 5G fast and not delay as it did with 4G. C-DoT (Centre for Development of Telematics) had said that it is already working on 5G NSA for BSNL, and it will also be a homegrown solution.
It would be a very stressful time to lead BSNL right now. The relief package isn't only an aid but also a serious pressure from the government for the telco to perform well.