Connections go down for up to a week
State-owned BSNL is facing flak from its customers. They complain of disrupted cable connections and extremely slow Internet speed.
Masood Khan, an electrical maintenance engineer at the SBI training centre, south Bengaluru, informed The Observer: “We’ve used BSNL’s broadband services for the past seven years in our office. Due to cable connection and construction work by BBMP, the connections are off up to one week. However, officials respond to complaints filed.”
Rajesh Swami, a student who is looking for a job in Bengaluru, said: “It’s extremely difficult to rely on BSNL broadband due to slow connectivity. The same goes with 4G network plans as they are poor.”
Komal Ranka, a lawyer practising at the Karnataka High Court, said: “Most of the time the network is not proper, and the WiFi connection is not available. During heavy rains, the situation gets aggravated as the landline connectivity is disrupted and we don’t get speedy broadband speed as well. Every time the problem occurs, I have filed a complaint at the office, but it takes around 3-4 days for repair work.”
User Vinod Kumar D, a pre-sales engineer at Bay Talkitec, noted: “As of now, there are many private service providers who give best offers for Internet and other services. Although BSNL services can match those of the private players, it is a government company and we cannot expect them to work 24/7. Hence the delays in resolving complaints.”
BSNL, in Public Private Partnership with number system integrators like Trimax, proposes to build a high-quality public WiFi infrastructure. It has commissioned around 7,800 hotspots across the country based on revenue share mechanism.
Seshasayee Rangarajan, a sub-divisional engineer at the BSNL head office, said: “Copper cables pose a problem while the fiber optical cables have good speed. The issue lies in disconnecting the fiber. Sometimes, holes dug by BBMP or wires being damaged due to ground work create risks as the connectivity is lost. Repair work is done within a day and connections are restored.”
Dr K.L. Sudha, a research scholar with specialization in wireless communication at the Dayananda Sagar College of Engineering, said: “Broadband connectivity is a wider spectrum, and reasons for disruption in transmission of information could be many. In the era of e-services, the government needs to adopt a more policy-oriented approach and look for ways to solve issues in fiber optics better.”
It is not clear how BSNL is going to address rising complaints with a depleted workforce owing to wide acceptance of a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS).
A November 15, 2019, report in Livemint said about half of BSNL employees have opted for VRS in less than two weeks. BSNL is looking at a savings of about Rs 7,000 crore in its wage bill if 70,000-80,000 personnel opt for VRS. As per a package announced by the government in October, MTNL will be merged with BSNL, which would include an infusion of Rs 20,140 crore for the purchase of 4G spectrum and Rs 3, 674 crore for GST to be paid on spectrum allocation.