BSNL employees support its management, says its expanding customer base

New Delhi, The employees union of ailing PSU BSNL on Wednesday rallied behind the PSU and its management, saying despite its present financial difficulties, BSNL is continuously expanding its mobile customer base.

"In 2017-18, BSNL's mobile customers grew by 11.5%, whereas Airtel's mobile custome rs grew by only 9.5%, Vodafone's grew by 3.8% and Idea's grew by only 3.2%," BSNL Employees Union (BSNLEU), one of the largest union of the PSU, said in a statement.

"Even in April, 2019, BSNL has added 2,32,487 new mobile customers, whereas, Airtel has lost 29,52,209 mobile customers and Vodafone Idea has lost 15,82,142 mobile customers", it said.

Blaming it on the below cost and cut-throat competition, the union said: "BSNL's position is not so bad, as compared to the private operators. As of today, BSNL's outstanding debt is only Rs 13,000 crore. Whereas, Vodafone Idea's debt is Rs.1,18,000 crore and Airtel's debt is Rs 1,08,000 crore".

"Even Reliance Jio is having a huge debt of Rs 1,12,100 crore. Further, BSNL's financial foundations are sufficiently strong. It is having an optic fibre network of 7.5 lakh route km whereas, Reliance Jio's OFC network is only of 3.25 lakh route kilometres, Airtel's OFC network is of 2.50 lakh route km and Vodafone Idea's OFC network is of 1.60 lakh route km," the union said.

The vacant lands that BSNL is having throughout the country, is valued at Rs 1 lakh crore, it said. "No other company is having such huge assets".

The union also took a potshot at the previous UPA government, saying "It is the same BSNL, with one lakh employees more on its rolls, had earned Rs 10,000 crore net profit in 2004-05. However, thereafter, the UPA government did not allow BSNL to procure equipment for 7 long years for the expansion of its networks".

It said the people from far-flung and backward areas depend upon BSNL, only for their communication requirements. "it is the responsibility of the government to ensure BSNL's financial viability".

It said private companies have rolled out their 4G services almost 5 years back. But, the government has still not allotted 4G spectrum to BSNL. "This is how the policy decisions of the government have seriously hampered the growth of BSNL," said BSNL EU on a day when Telecom Minister R.S. Prasad also spoke on the PSUs (BSNL and MTNL) in the Lok Sabha.
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