UPA-era procurement delays kept us back – BSNL CMD

BSNL Chairman and Managing Director Anupam Shrivastava blamed delays in procuring key equipment for the present backward condition of the state-owned telecom operator.

The company, which was once profitable and dominated India’s telecom sector, has run up huge losses in the last several years, while private telecom companies have reaped tens of thousands of crores in profit during the same period.

BSNL reported a loss of Rs 3,803 cr for the year ended March 2016, taking its total loss to over Rs 47,000 cr. In the previous year, it had a net loss of Rs 8,234 cr. These losses have prompted many to call for the privatisation or shutting down of the company, which they see as incapable of competing in a liberalized economy.

However, Shrivasatava said the company was not able to compete with others due to equipment shortage.

“BSNL could not procure equipment from 2006 to 2012 and therefore (was) left behind. Now, the revival process is on, and for the last two years, we have come to EBITDA positive,” he added.

EBITDA positive means the company’s operations are making profit, but it is still in losses due to non-operating costs such as interest, tax, capital expenses and so on.

The turnaround of BSNL has been a priority for the Modi Government. This was a little surprising as the UPA government, led by the Congress Party, was supposed to be more in favor of socialism and state-owned enterprises, while the NDA government led by Narendra Modi was supposed to be more market-oriented.

The period of delays highlighted by Shrivastava — 2006-2012 — falls square in the middle of the UPA regime. The UPA, led by Sonia Gandhi, ruled from 2004 to 2014.

While a lack of political will can be blamed for the delays, another crucial reason was litigation. Unlike private companies, BSNL is bound by strict transparency rules that apply to its procurement.

It has to go through various processes such as request for proposal, tendering and finally the actual award. In between, any disgruntled vendor was free to throw a spanner in the works by approaching a court and obtaining a stay in the whole process.

The process was made all more contentious because BSNL has a habit of giving out big bang orders worth billions of dollars. This raised the competitive intensity and stakes for equipment vendors, who use all the tricks in the book to get at least a part of the final order.

Though BSNL was the first to roll-out 3G services, it was soon overtaken in terms of capacity by private competitors like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone. This affected its quality of service, and in turn led to exit of customers.

Lack of funds also meant that the company was not able to expand its fiber broadband business, or kick off its 4G services in a timely fashion. Unlike private companies who have built-out a pan-India 4G spectrum, BSNL is present in a handful of cities.


Investors starting to understand Mukesh Ambani’s telecom game – Angel Broking Investors are only now starting to realize the plan that Mukesh Ambani and his telecom brainchild, Reliance Jio, have put into practice, and are therefore driving stock prices of his company higher, said Angel Broking, a retail-only stock-broker.Reliance Industries share pric...
Bharti Airtel buys Telenor India In a surprise announcement, Bharti Airtel said it was taking over Telenor India, marking the first such transaction since Idea took over Spice Telecom several years ago.Typically, companies in Indian telecom sector sell only assets, such as spectrum, and never the whole unit,...
BSNL turns net gainer in MNP, to launch 4G at year-end Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, the publicly owned telecom operator, is now 'MNP positive', its chairman and managing director Anupam Shrivastava said, without giving details."BSNL's MNP ratio is positive," Shrivastava said at a customer interaction event today.It is not clear ...
Mukesh Ambani to announce 100 mln Reliance Jio customers today? Mukesh Ambani, Chairman of Reliance JioMukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Jio Infocomm, will make a statement today, 21 February, at 1:30 PM.The statement will be streamed via Youtube and other channels. The link to the live stream will be shared by around 12 PM.Tho...
Reliance Jio added 2 cr subscribers in Dec, Andhra Pradesh leads Reliance Jio, the new 4G operator, has the highest number of subscribers in Andhra Pradesh, followed by Gujarat and Delhi.The company added 20 mln (2 cr) new users in December, its highest ever tally for a single month.The previous record was held by October, when it ad...
BSNL doubles data on 11 existing 3G plans to take on Reliance Jio BSNL, the public-owned telecom services provider, has increased the data allowance of more of its 3G plans, days after announcing two new tariff plans.Last week, the company has increased the allocation on two of its popular recharges by double or more.The Rs 78 pack,...
Facebook biggest beneficiary of Reliance Jio free data It's common knowledge that Reliance Jio's free data service has massively increased Internet usage in India, but a new report throws light on what categories have been benefited and which have not.The biggest beneficiary of the free data offer from Reliance Jio is -- yes,...
Reliance Jio’s 1000-rupee phone likely to work only on its 4G network; feature The market is abuzz with rumors of the impending launch of a 1000-rupee 'feature phone' by Reliance Jio, but comments by Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal suggests that the Mukesh Ambani firm will not be able to launch such a phone without providing a big subsidies. However, doing so would...
Reliance Jio NOT TO EXTEND free data offer after March Reliance Jio will not be extending its Happy New Year free data offer beyond March 31, according to our sources in the company.The clarification comes in the wake dozens of reports claiming that it will extend the free scheme beyond the March 31 deadline into June."There...
BSNL takes on 4G VoLTE with VoWifi + free calls If you enjoy the higher call quality of Voice over LTE (VoLTE) calls compared to regular cellular calls, you are definitely going to enjoy using BSNL's new Wifi calling app.The app, not yet available on Google Play, redirects your call via your Wifi network to your BSNL b...
BSNL to start 4G services only after April – CMD Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, the state-owned telecom services provider, will start its 4G services only in the next financial year that starts in April."BSNL is likely to start 4G services in 2017-18," Anupam Shrivastava, the chairman and managing director of the company said....
BSNL to soon relaunch Rs 498 “truly unlimited” 3G plan, new packs on Republic Day State-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd has decided to "relaunch" its 14-day "truly unlimited" 3G plan, chairman and managing director Anupam Shrivastava said today.The plan, introduced in early December, was pulled after only one month. It offered truly unlimited 3G data us...
Idea Cellular increases free data in unlimited scheme by 4 times Idea Cellular today increased the free data allocation on its existing unlimited calling packs.Compared to 1 GB of 4G data that customers were getting with the Rs 348 pack, they will now get 4 GB.Similarly, the free data allocation for those who do not have 4G handset...
Supreme Court to consider banning charge-sheeted candidates from polls The Supreme Court has today agreed to hear a petition that seeks to ban anyone who has been charge-sheeted in a criminal case from contesting elections in India.BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay, who is among one of the most prolific filers of public interest litigation in Indi...
COLUMN: Why it’s hypocritical for Rahul Gandhi to accuse Narendra Modi of taking money from co... One of the interesting aspects of the current accusations and counter accusations around the alleged funding of BJP's 2014 Lok Sabha campaign by corporate houses is the sheer hypocrisy of it.Let's see why.According to third-party figures, an estimated Rs 23,000 cr was...
BSNL offers email IDs in Hindi and other Indian languages BSNL has introduced a free e-mail service for its broadband users based on its डाटावन.भारत domain name.As a result, it is possible for a customer to now have an complete email address in Hindi.“It's now possible in every part of India to have an email address in their...
Mining baron Sekhar Reddy arrested after Income Tax raids Sand miner Shekar Reddy has been arrested, two weeks after the seizure of crores of rupees and gold in an income tax raid. The arrest has come hours after Income Tax officials conducted a raid on Tamil Nadu's top bureaucrat chief secretary P Rama Mohana Rao at his home.It was...
Rahul Gandhi’s gives ‘earthquake evidence’ on Modi After keeping the nation waiting for 10 days, Rahul Gandhi today dropped his 'bomb' on Narendra Modi that he had promised would 'cause an earthquake'.Gandhi said a company based in Uttar Pradesh has written "that Modi has taken money from them multiple times over six mont...
TRAI wants FREE DATA for everyone, without ‘gatekeeping’ by telcos India's telecom regulator has suggested that every rural citizen should be given 100 MB or so per month on a free basis to help the spread of digital revolution in the country. It has also suggested allowing 'third party aggregators' like Facebook to offer free data, but only if ...
Fitch downgrades Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications over Aircel merger Fitch Ratings has downgraded India-based Reliance Communications Limited's long-term rating to 'B+' from 'BB-'."It is our view that Rcom's plans to demerge its wireless business into a 50:50 joint-venture and sell 51% of its tower business, Reliance Infratel Ltd (Infratel), w...
Demonetizaton: Govt places limits on last minute deposits The Reserve Bank of India said that any person who continues to hold old notes of 500 and 1000 rupees in bulk will get only one more chance to deposit them into bank accounts and will also have to provide an explanation for the delayed deposit."Tenders of SBNs in excess of ₹ ...
BSNL matches Airtel, Idea with 339 unlimited voice + 1GB offer Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd has unveiled a new unlimited call plan, matching bigger rivals such as Idea Cellular and Bharti Airtel.While Airtel and Idea offer unlimited calls to any network in India plus 1 GB of 4G data for Rs 345, BSNL is doing so with a new recharge of Rs ...
BSNL JE 2016 recruitment frozen after complaints to DoT – CMD Shrivastava BSNL Chairman and Managing Director Anupam Shrivastava said the recruitment of Junior Engineers (JEs) into the telecom company has been frozen by the Department of Telecom on the basis of complaints."It is being held up by the Department of Telecom... due to complaints," Shri...
BSNL to launch Gigafiber plans, slash FTTH tariff to counter Reliance Jio BSNL CMD interacting with consumersState-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd will launch Gigafiber plans with speeds of over 1,000 Mbps to counter the threat from players like Reliance Jio, the head of the organisation said today."We have a similar strategy and soon we are go...
Airtel halves 4G data price to Rs 495/10GB; offers freebies to take on Reliance Jio Bharti Airtel cuts 4G data prices by halfOver the last two days, Bharti Airtel has quietly slashed its 4G pack prices to unprecedented levels in reaction to upcoming plans from Reliance Jio.According to the new data plans available to anyone who recharges using Airtel's ...