After much delay, Bharat Sanghar Nigam Limited (BSNL) had announced the launch of 4G services in select areas in the State late last year. But employees’ unions, which went on a three-day strike on Monday, maintain that this launch was an eyewash as the 4G services are being provided by making certain technical upgrades in the 2,100 MHz spectrum, which was being used for 3G.
In fact, one of the major demands of the strike called by the All Unions and Associations of BSNL, a collective of various employees’ unions, is the allotment of 4G spectrum.
“The Central government has not yet allotted 4G spectrum to BSNL, although all private players have been given the same. In Kerala, several announcements have been made over the past two years regarding 4G launch. Finally, it was launched in a few districts last year. But these services are being provided through the existing spectrum for 3G Wimax,” C. Santhosh Kumar, State convener of all unions and associations of the BSNL.
The BSNL has always been sidelined by successive governments in the allocation of spectrum. The employees’ unions say that even with the entry of Reliance Jio into the market, which has resulted in many other private players running into losses, the BSNL has been able to maintain its customer base in Kerala due to its attractive offers.
Some private players have folded up, while others have merged, leaving now just four major players in the market, unlike the situation a few years ago. The CGM of the BSNL Kerala circle was not available for comment.
Though there were reports last week of the Central government considering shutting down of the BSNL, it was later clarified that the Department of Telecom is in the process of finalising a proposal for the revival of the BSNL to be considered by the Digital Communications Commission (DCC) soon.
The other demands of the three-day strike include implementation of the third pay revision, which was due in 2017, implementation of the assurance of the Union Minister of State for Communications for delinking pension revision from pay revision, revision of pension of BSNL retirees with effect from January 1, 2017, settlement of the pending issues of the 2nd Pay Revision Committee and payment of pension contribution by the BSNL as per government rules.