Many Hurdles for the New BSNL Chairman and Managing Director



The Rs 32,045 crore BSNL, India’s public sector telecom service provider, has got a new chairman and managing director. R K Upadhyay, CMD, TCIL took over the charge as chairman and managing director, BSNL on 30th April, 2011.




After a good old journey of more than three decades in the telecom industry, I am privileged and humbled to take the responsibilities of BSNL. A great challenge lies ahead of us and I am sure we will meet every challenge with determination,”  said Upadhyay.




It is a challenging phase for BSNL. The government was keen to bring someone from the private sector to bring new life to BSNL. It appointed Sam Pitroda to revive the struggling public sector company. The selection of the new chairman and managing director faced delays and issues. Most of the CEOs did not apply for the top job. After Kuldeep Goyal, BSNL had two interim CMDs.




BSNL’s net profit is declining in the past few years. Its initial public offering (IPO) plans are on hold. Though BSNL is yet to be affected in a big way, mobile number portability (MNP) launched last year is taking away its customers. If the company’s expansion plans are not going well, there will be decrease in wireless subscriber-base in the long-term. Its wireless expansion plans have been affected by some wrong decisions earlier and some vested interest groups.




3G was first launched by BSNL (it was the first operator in India to get 3G spectrum without paying any licence fee at the time of allotting spectrum). But private operators who launched 3G is gaining subscriber base. BSNL has got the country’s best and cost effective 3G schemes. But customers are happy to get 3G services from private players, who spend funds on creating 3G content and services, awareness and brand pull.




BSNL is still holding its leadership position in broadband. According to the latest TRAI data, BSNL is the number one broadband player in India with maximum number of broadband users. Once the BWA services are launched in India, this leadership position in broadband will be launched. Industry feels that the TD-LTE powered 4G services will be launched by Mukesh Ambani-promoted Reliance Industries in 2011-12. That will put full stop for many telecom leaders in India.




BSNL’s wireline business is also showing decline in revenue and subscriber-base. There is no action plan to revive the wireline business.




The main advantage with the new CMD is that he handled many overseas projects for TCIL. He will be able to bring new vision for the struggling telecom behemoth. Rakesh Kumar Upadhyay is an officer of 1975 Batch of Indian Telecom Services. He obtained B.Tech (Electronics) Degree from I.T. Banaras Hindu University in 1974 and MBA (Marketing Management) degree from Indira Gandhi Open University.




BSNL is known for its rural presence. According to the latest TRAI data, Bharti Airtel is the number one operator in rural markets. This means, BSNL is losing its sheen in rural India as well.




Indian customers would like to see the revival of BSNL. But we need strong decision makers at the helm of BSNL. The organization must get support from the telecommunication minister to take right decisions.




By Baburajan K


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