Indian Telephone Industry

  • Shah Khalid
  • Publish Date: Mar 25 2019 5:45AM
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  • Updated Date: Mar 25 2019 5:45AM
Indian Telephone IndustryRepresentational Pic

The Indian Telephone Industry (ITI) Limited has been awarded best Public Service Undertaking Award in “Digital PSU Category” by “Governance Now” at 6th PSU Awards function held on January 17, 2019 at New Delhi. 

The ITI is India’s first Central Public Sector Undertaking Unit (PSU), established as a departmental factory in 1948. In 1950 it was incorporated as a private limited company. Ever since, the company has contributed significantly to the country’s national telecom network, with state of the art facilities spreading across five locations and a countrywide network with marketing and service outlets. The company offers a range of telecom products and total solutions covering the spectrum of Switching, Transmission, Access and Subscriber Premises equipment.

Now, in this age markets are flooded with smart phones and sim cards, the number of landline connections falling consistently, and subscriber growth story of the sector seems to be nearing its end. 

The Indian Telephone Industry unit in Srinagar is meeting the same fate. It was established in 1969 for the Operation, Maintenance, Sales and Marketing of the Passive telecom equipment. The scope of work includes operating preventive, shutdown maintenance, annual maintenance, overhaul, spares energy management, maintenance of site status alarms, set-up of web-enabled remote monitoring system (WRMS) and coordination and housekeeping for all sites.

Its scope of work also includes marketing of BTS infrastructure to other GSM players for earning additional revenue.  But the irony is that the revenue of the ITI unit at Srinagar has been falling, with the entry of smart wireless gadgets, bringing down the utility of landline telephones. 

The trigger for this turn in fortunes has largely been Reliance Jio’s entry into the data and communications market, with smaller operators such as Aircel widening its business by shutting down wireless operations across the country before Bharti Airtel Ltd acquired it. 

Tata Teleservices and Telenor too were acquired by Bharti and Vodafone India, and Idea Cellular finally merging with each other with Reliance Jio’s free voice calls and cheap data packs. 

Recently, the Government of India unveiled an ambitious plan for bringing together state-owned landline telecom organizations like Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telecom Nigam Limited (MTNL) for greater operational synergy, including effective utilisation of human resources as well as land and buildings. 

The strategic plan outlined by the Department of Telecom (DoT) will allow greater synergies amongst the state-owned entities and pave way for them to jointly tap business and opportunities in promising areas like 5G, and other internet protocols in the future.  But the onus completely lies on the state as well as central government to format an actionable plan to stop this Public Service Undertaking unit from becoming defunct, and should cover all such telecom landline entities so that the users experience a digitalised paradigm shift of our digital era. 

The ITI must play a strategic role in nurturing and enhancing the government's intervention capabilities in matters of protection of consumer interest. The organisation needs to work in tandem in the market to face competition, address new business opportunities arising in telecom sector from government initiatives like Digital India and Smart City, and for optimum utilisation of their resources to harness positive outcomes of the strategic plan.

Under the strategic plan, the organization must enhance its manpower by utilisation of vacant space, land and buildings and focus on clearly defined timelines for substantial and tangible plans to review a new mechanism of resources and boost its manufacturing units by promoting “make in India initiative” and by taking advantage of preferential market access policy. 

 - The writer is a freelance columnist with a Diploma in Mass Communication & Journalism from MANUU Hyderabad and Electrical Engineering from IUST Awantipora. He is also a member of J&K RTI Foundation. He can be contacted at peerzadakhalid1545@gmail.com