SRINAGAR: General Manager Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) Mohammad Zafar Iqbal talks to Kashmir Reader Correspondent on issues such as upgradation of the network and new services being launched in the Valley…
Kashmir Reader (KR): What is the customer base of BSNL in Kashmir? Over the years, has it increased or is it facing a down turn?
Mohammad Zafar Iqbal (MZI): BSNL was the only cellular operator in the Valley, but after the entry of other cellular companies, competition has increased. Since Jio was launched, the subscriber base has decreased a little bit. The heat of Jio is being felt by us because we never offered our services for free. Landline subscribers saw an increase in the last three years, but this year, it has been reducing. We have 1.06 lakh postpaid, 4.12 prepaid mobile subscribers and 46,000 landline subscribers in Kashmir.
KR: Can you spell out your priority areas in the Valley?
MZI: We have started upgrading our old network. We are going to replace 2G with 3G network, and for that 173 3G towers will be installed in the Valley. We have started wifi hotspots at around 20 public places in Kashmir. Our focus is on mobile sector. We have framed a plan for improving services in the Valley and expect its nod soon. We are also increasing the transmission network. Existing mobile internet speed will increase after C-plan network. By upgrading infrastructure, confidence of customers will get restored.
KR: Customers have been frequently accusing BSNL of failing to provide quality services. What is your take on it?
MZI: The main reason is frequent electricity outages. Battery banks and DG systems are not working some times. We are working on it and installing battery backups in the upgradation plan, and it will improve services.
KR: What are the products you are introducing in competitive telephony market?
MZI: Toll free numbers, internet lease lines for banks and corporates through MPLS network are being offered right now. Next we will launch Wings on July 25. It will allow users to dial any phone number in India through a mobile app. It is cheap, and a customer has to pay Rs 1,000 for a year to use the service. This service can be used in India as well as foreign countries. It requires internet connectivity and features such as clear voice quality.
KR: Broadband services were affected in many parts of the Valley in 2014 floods. Many areas are still affected. What measures are being taken to restore services?
MZI: During 2014 floods, BSNL lost almost all infrastructure. We restored services quickly, but some technical issues have stayed. Areas where Huawei technology was used have some technical issues, and we are trying to address them.