Duopoly or monopoly is not the way to go: Telecom secretary

Allaying concerns of a duopoly in the telecom sector, K Rajaraman, Secretary, Department of Telecom, and Chairman of Digital Communications Commissions, said the government wants adequate competition so that the consumers benefit.

“We believe that the market should be vibrant and competitive, otherwise, the quality of service to customers will suffer. Duopoly or monopoly is not the way to go. In the past, telecom service was a monopoly under DoT, but we dismantled that structure because we wanted competition in the marketplace for the benefit of consumers. Our job is to support competition, that is why we have supported BSNL. Consumer should be the king always,” Rajaraman told BusinessLine.

He added the government will soon sign an agreement with BSNL stipulating clear targets for revenue and customer acquisition, to not only make it accountable for the fresh funding but also keep the competition levels up.

‘BSNL will have to deliver’

“There will be both qualitative and quantitative deliverables. As far as quantitative deliverables are concerned, the focus is on revenue. We believe that BSNL is the vehicle to take digital to homes in rural areas. So, there will be a number of deliverables in terms of customers to be reached and revenue targets. We will be signing an MoU with BSNL shortly in another week or so. On the qualitative side, there has to be a transformation in the behaviour of the staff,” he said.

To make BSNL staff more customer-focussed, a private training services provider has been hired to train about 30,000 staff members across verticals. “Customers seek a certain level of experience, so if BSNL wants to be a commercial entity, it will have to change in that direction. There will be a comprehensive framework under which BSNL will have to deliver,” Rajaraman said.

Level-playing field

When asked if the Centre was disappointed at the spectrum being sold at the reserve price with no counter bids in the ongoing auction, the DoT chief said the job of the government is to ensure a transparent, fair, non-arbitrary, non-discriminatory process for a national resource. “It is for the market to discover the price. Our job is to ensure a level-playing field and remove costs of doing business so that they can offer services at affordable levels.“

Published on

July 31, 2022

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