New Delhi: Sandwiched between employees’ threat of a strike and telecom minister A Raja’s insistence to renegotiate the GSM expansion deal, state-run BSNL said on 6 July it hopes to find a solution soon for ending the impasse.
“That (addition of GSM lines) will be taken care of. I hope the issue will be sorted out soon. We’re working on it and hopefully before the strike some decision will be taken,” Kuldeep Goyal, BSNL director (planning and new services) said at a seminar here.
Asked if the network expansion would finally happen after so much delay, he said: “Sure, naturally... something will happen. There is no need to be pessimistic,” he said, but did not say whether discussions have been held with the vendors.
Communications Minister A Raja had earlier said he wanted BSNL to renegotiate the deal for setting up 45.5 million lines with Swedish equipment supplier Ericsson, which had quoted a cost of $107 per line, to below $100.
BSNL has so far not placed the contract with Ericsson although it had selected the company eight months ago. The delay has also irked BSNL staff union, which has threatened to go on a nation-wide strike on 11 July.
Goyal also admitted the company was concerned over the delay, which was leading to loss of subscribers.
“It is a matter of concern,” he said, when it was pointed out that BSNL had lost market share and its second rank among GSM operators due to the indecision.
With the danger of telecom services being affected when over 340,000 BSNL employees go on strike, he said the company has a contingency plan ready to meet such circumstances.
“BSNL always has a contingency plan ready so that services are not affected,” he said.
According to sources, BSNL management would hold talks with the staff union on 6 July to pursue it to reconsider its decision of going on strike.
BSNL employees and executives under the banner of Joint Forum of BSNL and MTNL Unions are demanding the purchase order for the 45.5 million GSM lines be placed immediately. They have opposed the Department of Telecom’s reported move to reduce the original tender by half, saying it would result in BSNL lagging in competition.
The Forum had earlier said BSNL could lose Rs30,000 crore if the GSM tender was re-issued. In the last two months, BSNL has lost about Rs110 crore revenue due to the delay, it had said.