Government-owned telecom company Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has spent the last whole year making efforts to bring improvements in broadband and prepaid benefits. But the telco is lagging behind in the 4G sector. Other telecom company have launched the services for over a period of 5 years. All Unions and Associations of BSNL (AUAB), the BSNL employee group has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad expressing the requirement for the telco to roll out 4G in India. The AUAB wrote in the letter that BSNL cannot continue in the industry for more than two years in the absence of 4G.
AUAB has further asked the government to let them purchase equipment if it is not local. It has requested the government not to discriminate against BSNL on the support of the “Make in India” policy.
ET Telecom, after seeing the letter, quoted employees saying that out of the 49,300 BTSs to be upgraded, 13,300 BTSs will be provided by Nokia and 36,000 BTSs will be supplied by ZTE and are 2G, 3G, and 4G compatible. The union said the government should allow BSNL to improve its 2G and 3G BTSs to 4G BTSs to roll out the 4G services.
The equipment of the phase 8.4 extension is provided by Nokia as L1. 4G BTSs can be bought by that tender, through placing an extra purchase order. Adding that that ailing telco should be allowed to purchase 4G BTSs from the phase 8.4 procurement.
Nokia is Finnish, while ZTE is of Chinese origin. Previously this year, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) advised the need for the domestic making of telecom equipment, which would reduce dependence on imports to zero by 2022, which is also said would lead to self-support and new jobs within India. International vendors have indicated in the past that TRAI’s new proposal was impractical and would make their business non-profitable.
“BSNL is being confronted with attacks from all sides. If we don’t stay united, it will be very difficult to save BSNL. Also in the past, only the employees have protected BSNL through their struggle and not management. The AUAB has already sent a letter to all trade unions and associations, which are not part of the AUAB, asking to become a member of the AUAB, to organize joint actions. If they take a positive step, we will welcome them,”K Sebastin, Secretary-General, SNEA told ETT.
The workers’ group has further highlighted its demand for appropriate compensation for the losses caused by an excessive delay in the launch of 4G services.
BSNL outsourced its customer service in some quarters to lower costs earlier this year, which employees say has led to a worsening in service. The workers’ union stated that any endeavor by management or government to reroute BSNL’s mobile towers to its subsidiary, BSNL Tower Corporation (BTCL), or convert it into a joint venture, or choose for divestment, would lead to militant tussle.