The state-owned telco BSNL finds itself in a situation of turbulence as it has been losing some of the prominent government-funded digital connectivity programs to the three private giants – Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vodafone Idea. In the light of this, BSNL has asked for intervention from the telecom department in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ambitious Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) campaign. Let’s find out more.
Private Players Have Been Bagging the Opportunities
According to a report from ET Telecom, the chairman of BSNL Pravin Kumar Parwar has written a letter to the telecom secretary K Ramarajan in which he stated that BSNL is in the best position and has the past experience of rolling out mobile networks in difficult terrains with complete professionalism. He further requested the department that the BSNL should receive the work of network coverage in the uncovered villages on the nomination basis.
The chairman also promised that the telco will be able to complete the connectivity program within 24 months from the date of receiving it. For those unaware, BSNL has also partnered up with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT) for the efficient rollout of the fourth generation or 4G network solution along with a 5G upgradable network.
BSNL was able to deploy the telecom network in critical left-wing extremism (LWE)-hit areas in a record time. Despite this effort from the telco, last year the telecom department awarded the LWE-II program to Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio. Moreover, both of these private telcos also grabbed the initiative to connect unconnected villages. Not only this, BSNL had reservations for the telecom connectivity initiative in the Northeast region on the nomination basis, which was also awarded to Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel.
An officer who requested to be anonymous informed that Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) has been continuously awarding the telecom connectivity initiatives to the private players who are actually funded to deploy the gear from foreign markets which does not fall in line with the Prime Minister’s ambitious Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) campaign. USOF is responsible for providing the telecom network in rural and remote areas and is a Rs 55,000 crore strong corpus. As of now about, 25,000 villages in India do not have telecom connectivity.