‘BSNL Is Dying Because of NOFN’ – Association Writes to Secretary, Minister

SNEA, an association of executives of BSNL, has written a letter to the telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan saying the state run operator is dying because of excessive work allotted to it from BBNL – the organisation responsible for rolling out BharatNet or the erstwhile NOFN.

The letter, also marked to telecom minister Manoj Sinha and BSNL CMD Anupam Shrivastava, claims that because of NOFN (national optic fiber network), BSNL is not able to focus on its core business and is loosing out to its traditional rivals on the telecom services front. It says for last one year the operator is being treated as a vendor for the government projects on turnkey basis.

“If this is allowed to continue, BSNL also may become another ITI in the coming days, we are afraid,” writes Sebastin. K, General Secretary, SNEA or Sanchar Nigam Executives’ Association.

ITI or Indian telephone Industries is an Government run manufacturer of telecom equipment in India. Sebastin’s reference of ITI comes from the dilapidated condition of the state-run firm who, once, was a leading manufacturer of telecom equipment but slowly failed to compete in the market and became almost defunct.

The letter says BBNL, the special projects vehicle, was formed exclusively to carry out the functions of NOFN – the ambitious project of the government that aims to provide high speed broadband to every gram panchayat in the country by 2019.

“Of late, it is surprising to see that entire NOFN work is shifted from BBNL to BSNL, which is a service provider and has to compete with other private operators in the telecom sector,” it accuses.

Initially, the letter says, 70% of the NOFN work was allotted to BSNL and 15% each to PGCIL and RailTel. “However, according to our information, PGCIL and RailTel could not make any significant contribution towards this and that work is also transferred to BSNL,” the letter claims.

In the letter Sebastin writes that because of the excess work, BSNL management is not able to focus on its core services and it is impacting the business of the operator. Even some crucial network expansion plans are put on hold because of some government related projects including NOFN.

“Optic fiber cable laying in BSNL is almost stopped after the initiation of NOFN work. And at the same time, it hass to hire OF cable from PGCIL to maintain its transmission media,” writes the letter.

The writer, on behalf of the association, says BSNL is loosing thousands or crores of rupees because of its resources are mobilized towards BharatNet and not on BSNL’s own business. In return the operator is getting few hundred crores from NOFN.

SNEA has requested the telecom secretary as well as the minister to intervene in this matter.

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