The Telecom Ministry has finally fastened its seat belts to get it done. Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), the state run telecom operator, is expected to go through the much needed changes in order to improve services to its customers. The Telecom Ministry has decided to meet with the officials from the company and some members of the parliament on a regular basis for analysing the performance of the company. BSNL’s performance will be reviewed and scrutinised.
The MPs from all the states would be able to raise issues and concerns of the customers in their respective circles. Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and North Eastern states were present in the first meeting. Some MPs complained of either weak or lack of BSNL’s network across the border. The Telecom Minster Ravi Shankar Prasad directed the officials to explore the possibility of setting up a dedicated cell within BSNL to monitor the effectiveness of its network in border areas and also in areas severely affected by extremism.
Incentives and plans announced by Telecom Minster Ravi Shankar Prasad for the loss-making firm:
- Augmentation of BSNL mobile network as part of its Phase-VII Project to create an additional capacity of 15 million lines at an estimated cost of Rs. 4804.77 crore. This will add to the 14,421 2G sites and 10,605 3G sites existing across the country.
- Replacement of the entire network of wireline local exchanges by Internet Protocol (IP) enabled exchanges and deployment of Next Generation Network (NGN) equipment based on the latest architecture to gradually replace entire legacy telephone exchanges at an estimated cost of Rs. 600 crore.
- Migration of entire C-DOT (Centre for Development of Telematics) legacy telephone exchanges with technology solutions being developed by C-DOT at an estimated cost of Rs. 350 crore for which MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) has been signed between C-DOT and BSNL.
- Government has assigned the work of providing mobile connectivity to uncovered villages in Arunachal Pradesh and two districts of Assam to BSNL on nomination basis at an estimated cost of Rs. 1975.38 crore.
BSNL has been facing a continuous decline in market share as it faces tough competition from the private networks. A service provider with footprints in the remote areas of the country needs to stay long in the market. The current government has announced several initiatives to put it back on track.
Few points on which the Government emphasised are as follows:
- A systematic market research evaluating why people prefer private operator.
- Upgrading the latest technology to help BSNL sustain in the market. In this regard, outsourcing can be considered.
- Deployment of 4G in GSM area and conducting tests to upgrade to latest GSM technology. Improvement of data network is the need of the hour and BSNL should go with it in an aggressive manner.
- A robust distribution strategy and an elaborate structural approach for product promotion would help the company. Their products and services should be rolled out through multiple channels. Th firm needs to concentrate on seasonal offers for pre-paid connections and personalised offers.
- Identification of alternative channels for distributing their products would increase visibility.
- Local exchanges situated in rural village areas need to be developed for delivering quality services and products.
- “More importance in circles in which the company is in profit” – the golden rule for the private players – should also be the mantra of BSNL. A focus on profitable circles like Kerala, Jammu & Kashmir and Odisha would increase revenue. A lack of concentration on these profitable circles has given rise to number of complaints from the same. This would bring financial stability in the company and ensure further expansion of network.
- Additional expansion in the loss-making areas would also serve the purpose.
- A complete revamp of the complaint resolution system is absolutely mandatory. Easiest and earliest complaint mechanism with strict SLAs should be introduced.
- Increased broadband penetration can be crucial in this situation.
- Installation of more antennas in towers can, to an extent, help in solving coverage problems. Easy installation procedures of micro towers will help boost connectivity in rural areas. MPs offered land in their respective constituencies for erecting towers and further offered funds from MPLAD scheme for this purpose.
- Improving customer care service in all locations is a prerequisite.