The chairman and managing director (CMD) of the state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) Anupam Shrivastava in Indore on Monday said that company lost out to the private sector in the mobile telephony market as it was unable to install crucial equipment from 2006 to 2012.
“The 2006-2012 period was that of peak growth for mobile telephony, and by the time BSNL got its act together in 2012, the mobile telephony market was already saturated,” said Shrivastava, who was in Indore to attend a review meeting with regional MPs.
Statistics show that BSNL has steadily been losing ground to private operators over the past two years. According to TRAI figures, BSNL lost about 1.78 crore wireless subscribers in 2014-15 as the public sector company could not match aggressive marketing by private operators, as well as due to issues related to the quality of its services.
“Basically, BSNL could not float tenders for purchase of the equipment. They carried out the exercise twice but no purchases were made and the whole process flopped. Thus, they could not add fresh connectivity and the quality of service was also poor in the existing markets… In my opinion, BSNL can still capture a part of the market as their connectivity in rural areas is far better than private operators,” telecom expert and consultant PVS Nagesh said.
BSNL, however, is taking steps to increase its subscriber base through investments in network and is aiming to improve its quality of service. Shrivastava noted that 2014-15 was the first financial year in which the company’s operating profit turned positive.
The BSNL CMD said that the government was focusing on linking unconnected people with telecom services, including high-speed broadband. The members of Parliament, including Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, raised the issue of call drops and migration of subscribers from BSNL to private sector.