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BSNL blues: Fixed phones fall from grace

india Updated: Aug 31, 2006 01:49 IST

THE FAST dwindling number of landline telephones, especially in the UP Telecom (East) Circle, has rung alarm bells in the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd here.

Poor services and the growing popularity of mobile phones are forcing people to say goodbye to their wired-line telephones, for which there used to be quite a rush once.

The basic telephone is registering a negative growth in the circle. This means the number of phones being surrendered every year is more than the number of new phones being installed.  According to countrywide figures, revenue from landline phones has declined the most in the UP (East) Circle.   Information available with the circle headquarters shows that as many as two lakh wired-line telephones were surrendered in the circle during the last financial year. This is only the net number. It means that the shortfall of two lakh remained even after adding the number of new phones installed during the period.

The situation is no better this year. About 80,000 telephones have already been surrendered in the past four months from April to July. On an average, 20,000 telephones are surrendered every month. For example, a total of 7,600 new telephones were installed in the circle in July this year. But, the number of phones that the subscribers surrendered, or got disconnected was high as 25,500. Thus, the net surrender was 17,900 in July.

The rate at which people are getting rid of basic telephones is especially high in the big cities. It is the highest in Kanpur where 8,498 phones have been surrendered till July 31 this fiscal.

In Lucknow and Allahabad, 6,131 and 3,852 phones were surrendered during the same period. These two cities hold the second and the third positions, respectively. In Lucknow, there used to be 2.60 lakh landline phones. But, today their number has fallen to 1.50 lakh. In Varanasi, 579 people surrendered their basic phones in July alone.

The rate of phone surrender is quite high even in small towns like Azamgarh, Unnao and Farrukhabad. In Unnao alone, 3,500 people surrendered their phones till July 31 this year.

A section of subscribers has not surrendered the phones, but uses it only for incoming calls. At least 25 per cent of the 17 lakh basic phone subscribers in the circle have got the outgoing facility on their landline phones disconnected under the Sulabh Plan.

No wonder then, revenue from landline phones is declining in the State.
“The revenue has dipped by 20 per cent this year compared to the last fiscal,” said a senior BSNL officer. He attributed the revenue fall to both the surrender of a large number of phones and people talking less on wired-line phones.

“The call traffic on the landline telephones has declined by around 25 per cent,” he said.

What is worrying the BSNL officers more is that their efforts to arrest the trend of phone surrender are not succeeding. They hope that the sops announced by new CGM Omvir Singh might have made a difference. “We are collecting the figures to assess the impact of the offers announced on the landline phones last month,” said another official.

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