MC Singh, a 1993 batch Indian Telecommunication Service (ITC) officer, has set certain priorities after assuming the charge of General Manager Telecom District (GMTD), BSNL, Chandigarh circle last week. In conversation with The Indian Express, Singh talks about his aim to increase revenue along with increasing the number of subscribers of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) in the Tricity.
What is the status of BSNL connections in the Tricity? Do you have any plans to increase the numbers?
BSNL has around 2 lakh mobile, 55,000 landline and 4,000 Fiber to the home (FTTH) broadband internet connections in the Tricity. The FTTH numbers are growing each passing day. We hired private persons for the marketing of our connections. We are offering them incentives on each connection, which will encourage them to bring more customers.
For the convenience of the general public, the peripheral areas including Zirakpur, Derabassi and even Ropar district will come under the Chandigarh circle from November 1. I am sure that this move will increase our subscribers in these areas. Till now, these areas came under the Patiala division. I reviewed the situation and decided to take these areas under Chandigarh for the convenience of people.
Does BSNL cover the entire Tricity under its Optic Fiber Cable (OFC) laying and installation programme?
The installation work of OFC has reached both sides of all main roads, highways passing through Chandigarh. This has reached all the major corporate offices, government departments and big institutes. We are now targeting the Group Housing Societies in the Tricity, after which the adjoining sectors will be covered. The entire Tricity will cover under this programme in a phased manner. It will take time, but the work is going on at high speed. We have decided to increase the number of contractors for the installation work. One-time payment of Rs 2500 is charged from the customer for FTTH connection, which is available on different packages.
People always complain about the poor connectivity with BSNL, including call dropping. What do you have to say about that?
These complaints are being redressed on a priority basis. We lack the infrastructure as compared to the big private players, but we have set certain agendas for the BSNL. The services being improved. I believe that another acronym for BSNL is ‘Behtar Sewa Naya Lakshya’. Private players do not like the progress of BSNL services, which are less costly than others. Call dropping is a problem with all telecommunication companies.
While private players are talking about 5G, BSNL is yet to start its work in the field of 4G. Do you not think it is a drawback?
I want to clarify one wrong perception about internet speed in the general mindset; 95 per cent of the people in our country do not need 4G as 3G is sufficient. Private players have made a wrong perception about 4G and 4G phones and connections become a status symbol. Indeed, BSNL lacks 4G services, but the government had approved our plans last year. Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, importing equipment from China was banned, which has affected us as, some equipment need in this process was scheduled to be delivered from China. Now, the work is stalled, but alternatives are being explored.
Recently, hundreds of BSNL employees adopted VRS. The Chandigarh circle was also affected. Any plan of revival?
There were around 600 employees in the Chandigarh circle and almost 300 of them have left. Our 16 customer service centers (CSC) in the Tricity were shut, but work has resumed in all these centers. The VRS was offered across the country. We have decided to increase the 10 per cent revenue in the ongoing financial year. Last year, BSNL had earned a revenue of Rs 90 crore.
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