Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Vodafone Idea (Vi) both have a great future in the Indian telecom market. Even though the operators have been fighting to survive and losing most of their subscribers to Jio and Airtel, they can still turn things around pretty fast.
BSNL will benefit a great deal if it can improve its network quality and coverage throughout India by launching 4G in the next 14 months. Since 5G is still far from reaching pan-India, the state-run telco should move fast and offer great 4G services and build a strong and loyal subscriber base.
Vi, at the same time, should look to enhance its network coverage. Like we have mentioned in the past, the telco has great spectrum resources; all that it needs is capital in the short and medium-term to move aggressively. Vi already offers industry-unique prepaid offers to its subscribers and is refarming its 3G spectrum for 4G to enhance user capacity on its network. The telco should be fine if it can just manage to raise capital soon.
4G Penetration Not There Yet
India has a very huge population. The country already has millions of 4G customers, but there is a scope for the telcos to add more soon. The rural and remote parts of India, including the dark spots, are still waiting for proper 4G services.
Telcos such as Jio and Airtel have already started targeting the rural subscriber base; it would benefit Vi if it does the same. That said, even BSNL can benefit from the fact that its competitors haven’t exploited the Indian population with their 4G services.
BSNL and Vi will have to plan and work something out for motivating 2G and 3G users of the country to shift to their 4G network. If they can manage to do that, they will increase the competition in the market.
One good thing for BSNL is that it has the government’s support. The telco is already getting support through the revival package announced by the government. However, that’s not the case for Vi. If it fails to raise capital in the medium-term, the telco’s difficulties will multiply several times.
Both the telcos already have broadband services. Vi provides fiber broadband services through its subsidiary company called You Broadband, while BSNL offers its fiber plans through its Bharat Fibre service.
Like we mentioned, Vi can leverage its broadband business to increase its revenues, and the same applies to BSNL. The number of fixed wireline broadband connections is growing every month in India. It is high time that both BSNL and Vi start focusing on their broadband business a bit more seriously.
The Lack of True 4G Network
It would not be wrong to say that Indian users haven’t seen what true 4G feels like. The operators are in a race to offer the cheapest plans with a ton of benefits; that’s why their network load is more than what it should be. Because of that, users are mostly consuming data services through a very overloaded and congested network. BSNL 4G with a strong network quality would bring a positive change in this regard.
A strong 4G network would allow BSNL to attract new 4G customers and further retain old ones. With an improved network, even Vi would be able to retain its old customers and add new ones.