1. Wi-FI Woes

Wi-FI Woes

Public wi-fi in 2,500 cities is a great idea, only if not left to BSNL to execute

By: | Published: January 26, 2015 3:52 AM

Given the Centre’s vision for Digital India, its plan to offer public wi-fi in 2,500 cities and towns—initial use for free, after which users will be charged for the connection—seems just the right step forward. Globally, there are hundreds of cities doing it, including important business centres like Singapore. So, a 4G-speed wi-fi connection is indeed in order for an aspirational India.

The problem, however, lies in the fact that the government is considering roping in BSNL for the purported R7,000 crore project. BSNL’s track-record doesn’t exactly merit the government entrusting the project to the PSU. Despite having spectrum all across the country, it has failed to add 3G users as fast and even in as much volume as its private sector counterparts. Besides, the company has been decking losses for quite a few years now; its losses grew from R1,823 crore in FY10 to R8,198 crore in FY 13 before slipping to R7,025 crore in FY14. BSNL also seems to inspire very little user confidence these days, with subscribers leaving its network in hordes, something that is evident in its falling revenues over the years. The public wi-fi project can be read as the government’s attempt to help it get back on its feet. Even if that were so, there are many other ways to turn the company around. The government must therefore be clear whether mammoth public wi-fi  project is about getting Digital India to take off or prodding BSNL to turn around and perform.

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  1. P
    Jan 26, 2015 at 7:43 am
    Article sponsored by private telecom players???
    1. r
      Jan 26, 2015 at 9:00 am
      The major reason for poor track record of BSNL is not only the poor service support and poor marketing strategies of BSNL but the illegitimate policies of previous two governments. They dela the Phase VII and Phase VIII expansion plans leaving employees and customers with poor networks, less capacity and zero expansion ultimately leading to poor morale of both. Why a company giving highest bonus to its employees in 2004-05 shattered in just 7 years? Has Financial Express ever pondered over this. The 2G Scam, changes in M&A rules, high IUC charges with BSNL especially LL, private cartels to not allow BSNL numbers for their IN services are some other clearly visible policies for degrading BSNL services. However strong a company is and whatsoever work the employees do a company cannot survive without timely expansions and changes. Blaming poor track record is not the way out. Owing to highly talented manpower BSNL must be given a chance to implement large projects. I dont know the answer to this but did Financial Express oppose in the same way when BSNL was awarded project to the tune of 3000 crore to roll out networks in naxalite hit areas ? You cannot say that is not an important project/small project.

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