Sinha talks tough, asks BSNL to increase market share to 15%
Telecom minister Manoj Sinha has asked state-run telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd to increase its market share to 15%. BSNL’s current market share is close to 8.65%, according to a recent report from sector regulator Trai. Addressing directors and chief-general managers on his first visit to the BSNL headquarters after assuming charge as the telecom minister, Sinha said with a dedicated staff, which is bigger than any other company, the target has to be ambitious. “This is a competitive era and a challenge as well as opportunity for BSNL. Given the existing robust network, 15% market share can be Achieved, which could lead to a constructive growth,” he told the gathering on Tuesday. BSNL has more than 2 lakh employees across 22 telecom circles. It spends nearly Rs 15,000 crore annually in wages. “If people with negative growth stay in an organization, then they would put it in a jeopardy. We have to set aggressive targets and it should not be treated as a threat to anyone,” the minister added. Taking a strict stand on complaints redressal, Sinha also sought suggestions for a performance-linked pay, which according to him, has been initiated in various departments. BSNL should go the Indian Railways’ way, which is being appreciated by all quarters for its complaints redressal mechanism, he said, adding that complaints have to be addressed by having an emotional attachment with the subscribers. Tariff plans may be a temporary phenomenon contributing to BSNL’s growth, Sinha said while stressing on improving the service quality. He also called upon BSNL to aggressively meet the National Optic Fibre Network (NOFN), now called BharatNet, deadline, saying the “prime minister’s Digital India initiative is our responsibility and no excuse (for not meeting the deadline) will be accepted”. BSNL has to conclude the NOFN programme by December 31, and it should not go beyond a day, Sinha told officials in a jam-packed conference room. Bharat Broadband Network, a special purpose vehicle (SPV), is carrying out the national broadband connectivity programme, which though has missed many deadlines. “BharatNet is a challenge and a national responsibility, and everybody has to work together to make it a success, so tha t we may not lag in data revolution,” he said. The mega broadband network task has been distributed between three public sector companies—BSNL, RailTel and PowerGrid—in a 70:15:15 ratio. The previous Congress-led UPA government had approved the national broadband project in 2011 with an aim to provide 100 Mbps broadband connectivity to 2.5 lakh gram panchayats. The telecom minister also raised concern over the BSNL’s declining landline business and said despite offering free calls after 9pm, the situation has not changed.
BSNL seeks pan-India 700 Mhz spectrum for 4G services
State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) has reportedly expressed its interest in the super premium 700-MHz band, and has written to the government seeking financial support for the same. The telco, according to a Business Standard report, plans to secure 5 MHz spectrum in the premium 700-MHz band across the country, as it looks to take on private telecom operators, including Reliance Jio that have already launched 4G services in the market. "We have to buy 700-MHz because we don't have other options....We have 20 MHz spectrum in 2,500-MHz band in 14 circles but that gives us only the capacity. If you talk about coverage, we don't have spectrum in 800-MHz, 900-MHz or 1,800-MHz bands. That's why our strategy is to get 700-MHz, which is the best band to give coverage," BSNL chairman and managing director, Anupam Shrivastava was quoted as saying by the publication.He said that if the price of 700-MHz band reaches too high, the telco might just go for the spectrum in select few circles. The government is auctioning 700-MHz band for the first time, at a base price of Rs 11,485 crore per MHz. According to estimates, the 700-Mhz band can alone yield Rs 4 lakh crore if all available spectrum gets sold.
Shrivastava said that devices supporting 800-MHz can easily support 700-MHz. He said that around 35% of such devices are 700-MHz ready. BSNL is also planning to offer free voice calling and plans cheaper than the new entrant Reliance Jio's Rs 149 entry plan in India. The zero-voice-tariff plans will be launched in January. The new plans will be offered to BSNL's mobile customers who also have a broadband connection at home. Under this plan, home broadband will be used to route outgoing mobile calls through the landline network.
IF RELIANCE CAN DO WHY NOT BSNL - HERE IS THE
BSNL plans free voice, cheaper package than Jio
State-run BSNL will be the first to cut tariffs to better Reliance Jio 's offer, a top official said on Wednesday, setting the stage for a price war in the country's crowded mobile telecom market.The public sector player is planning to follow Jio in offering free voice calling on its network, and at plans that will be cheaper than the new entrant's. And unlike Jio's offer that is available for only 4G subscribers, the BSNL plan will be open to 2G and 3G users, which constitute the majority of mobile customers. "We are closely observing the market as well as Jio's performance. We will also come up with lifetime free-voice plans from the new year as part of fresh offerings," BSNL chairman and managing director Anupam Shrivastava told TOI . "We plan to be even lower than the Jio plan, and this could be by Rs 2-4." BSNL, that has a strong market penetration and significant share in many key markets such as Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Odisha, Punjab and UP , will announce the zero-voice-tariff plans from January and these would be lower than the Rs 149 entry price of Jio. The loss-making PSU is, however, absent in key markets such as Mumbai and Delhi (serviced by MTNL). Shrivastava said that the plan will be offered to BSNL's mobile customers who also have a broadband connection at home. "The idea is to use the home broadband to route outgoing mobile calls through the landline network. We estimate that a large amount of time is spent at home, and so here we can ride on our wire-line operations," he said. However, the free-voice facility will also be available when a subscriber would use it outside the residence. BSNL's offer may put further pressure on operators such as Airtel+ , Vodafone and Idea to slash tariffs, said experts. Prashant Singhal, partner at Ernst & Young, said the BSNL offer will impact other telecom companies. "Others will also have to follow suit. But this can be a risk for BSNL and its ARPU can be hit."