State-owned BSNL has about 32% more subscribers on its GSM service than its capacity, according to numbers given by the ministry of communications and information technology to the Parliament.
Asked whether a capacity crunch in BSNL has impacted its growth, junior telecom and IT minister Milind Deora said BSNL’s total GSM subscriber capacity was 7.55 crore at the end of October. In comparison, it had 9.99 crore subscribers at the end of the same month.
In other words, BSNL’s has been forced to support a far higher number of subscribers than its networks are designed for due to delays in placing orders for GSM equipment. Indeed, it is after a gap of nearly four years that it recently decided to place a big order for GSM equipment.
It has placed orders for 1.44 crore lines to expand its GSM capacity. In the six months from April this year, BSNL managed to add only 0.14 crore (14 lakh) new line capacity, Deora added.
It must, however, be kept in mind that nearly half of BSNL’s 10 crore customers are not ‘switched on’. In other words, BSNL has a VLR ‘switched on’ percentage of just 54%, compared to above 90% for the three big private GSM operators. As such, the effective load on BSNL’s network would come to about 5.4 crore against a capacity of 7.55 crore.
However, there would be circles in which the load would be higher than the capacity, as capacity utilization is not uniform in all the circles.