BSNL Employees Condemn Tariff Hike By Airtel, Jio: Despite Rs 28,000 Crore Profits, Tariff Hike Imposed

Sheetal Bhalerao

Sheetal Bhalerao

Jul 05, 2024

In the absence of 4G and 5G services, the State-run BSNL seems to be unable to compete with private telecom operators.

BSNL Employees Condemn Tariff Hike By Airtel, Jio: Despite Rs 28,000 Crore Profits, Tariff Hike Imposed

Union Raising Concerns Regarding Tariff Raise

This has affected it greatly as because of this there is no restraint on mobile service providers from raising tariff, said BSNL Employees Union said on Tuesday.

Further, the recent tariff hike by the private telecom operators Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel is unwarranted as they are profitable companies, said BSNL Employees Union in a letter to the union communications minister Jyotiraditya Scindia.

Moving ahead, the letter said, “Earlier, due to the competition from BSNL, the private telecom service providers were restrained from increasing their tariffs capriciously. However, the scenario has changed now. BSNL has not been able to launch its 4G and 5G services till date, as a result of which it is handicapped from competing with the private operators and thereby restraining their arbitrary tariff hikes.” 

As it is known that all three private operators announced an increase in mobile service rates in the range of 10-27 per cent recently.

The new tariff plans announced by Jio and Airtel have already come into effect, while Vi hike will be effective from July 4.

In the case of Jio, they raised tariffs after a gap of about 2.5 years, contrary to Airtel and Vi, they have raised entry-level tariffs within one-and-a-half years.

The claim of telecom operators that the tariff hike has been done to increase average revenue per user (ARPU) is misleading, said the union.

Further adding, “Absolutely there is no reason for the private companies to raise their tariffs so steeply. It is important to note that, Reliance Jio has made a net profit of Rs 20,607 crore in 2023-24 and Airtel has made a net profit of Rs 7,467 crore during the same period. Hence, such a steep tariff hike, which will hurt the common people, is totally unwarranted.”

Absence of 4G and 5G Services Affecting BSNL

Besides this, the state-run firm has been losing customers while private operators, Reliance Jio and Airtel, are gaining new customers, in the absence of 4G and 5G service.

The government’s decision not to allow BSNL to upgrade its existing 3G BTSs into 4G BTSs, through software upgradation as well as barring the public sector firm from procuring 4G equipment from global vendors has handicapped the company, according to BSNL EU.

The letter states that “BSNL is barred from procuring standard 4G equipment from global vendors such as Nokia, Ericsson and Samsung, at par with Reliance Jio and Airtel. Instead, BSNL is compelled to procure its 4G equipment only from indigenous equipment manufacturers, which has greatly delayed BSNL’s 4G, as well as 5G service launchings.” 

Prior to this, the former telecom minister Ashwini Vaishnaw in May 2023 had said that BSNL will launch its 4G service in a few weeks and the same would be upgraded to 5G by December but still the state-run firm has not been able to launch 4G service, said the union.

That is why, Union said, “We would like to earnestly appeal to you sir, that necessary steps may kindly be taken expeditiously to ensure BSNL’s 4G launching without delay. Further, timely upgradation of this 4G service into 5G service, would enable BSNL to protect the interests of the common people of this country from the tariff hikes of profit-hungry private telecom service providers.” 

In the meantime, the BSNL has rolled out 4G services in Punjab using indigenously developed technology by a consortium led by IT company TCS and telecom research organization C-DoT and has onboarded 8 lakh subscribers, said the government resource.

Now, BSNL is preparing to launch its highly anticipated 4G services across India starting in August, sources informed during May this year.

Sheetal Bhalerao
Sheetal Bhalerao
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