State-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), which is already four years behind other operators in rolling out 4G services, will not survive for another year without 4G spectrum, according to an employees’ union.
The union, All Unions and Associations of BSNL (AUAB), is also planning to seek Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s immediate intervention to procure 4G equipment “without discrimination”.
According to the union, while private operators are procuring equipment from Finnish company Nokia and Swedish firm Ericsson, BSNL is asked to procure equipment from domestic vendors.
“Even though the Government has banned procurement of equipment from Chinese vendors, equipment already installed continues to be operational. Under these circumstances, BSNL should be allowed to upgrade all its 2G and 3G BTSs installed by ZTE to support 4G services,” P. Abhimanyu, Convenor of AUAB, told BusinessLine .
Further, the public sector unit has also sought permission to upgrade all its 2G and 3G Base Transceiver Stations (BTSs) supplied by ZTE to support 4G services. Of its total 49,300 BTSs, 36,000 were installed by ZTE and the remaining 13,300 with Nokia.
Earlier in June, BSNL’s 4G upgradation tender was cancelled after the country’s telecom licensor, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), asked the state-run firm to “avoid” using Chinese telecom gear as the Government wanted to promote ‘Make in India’ policy.
AUAB also cautioned that any attempts to hive off BSNL’s mobile towers into the new subsidiary BSNL Tower Corporation (BTCL), converting it into a subsidiary firm or opting for disinvestment will be met with “militant struggles”.
BTCL was incorporated in October 2018 to house BSNL’s nearly 70,000 towers.
According to the union, BSNL outsourcing the maintenance of its optical fibre cable, landline and broadband connections has resulted in “serious deterioration” in quality of services. AUAB intends to take this issue with the management.
BSNL had outsourced the maintenance contracts in May this year.