BSNL Kerala is leading the show for State-run telecom on how to maintain growth

As soon as you read anything about 'BSNL,' the word insufficient, slow and the entire image of slow and slower 'government office' comes to your head.

As soon as you read anything about 'BSNL,' the word insufficient, slow' and the entire image of a highly bureaucratic government institution comes to mind. For instance, BSNL Kerala just announced that it would roll out 4G services next March, when most players have already started offering it in a lot of circles. This made us roll our eyes at an even slower than expected pace of the government-owned company.

During a time when major players such as Airtel, Idea, and Vodafone have already rolled out their 4G services in Kerala, and a new player like Reliance Jio is planning to launch 4G VoLTE, it feels like BSNL arrived late to the party by announcing its 4G rollout for Kerala in March 2017.

This is surprising because Kerala circle has been quite a profitable one for the state telecom service provider. According to BSNL Chief for Kerala circle, R Mani the 3G services offered by BSNL in Kerala are better than the 4G services provided by other private companies in the space. The circle announced that the annual profit increased from Rs 486 crore during 2014-15 to Rs 658 crore in 2015-16 in 2015-16.

Both these claims made us dig more about what BSNL Kerala is doing radically different that it is experiencing steady growth since July 2015 according to the monthly report card published by Trai for the Kerala circle. The company experienced a growth from 7.92 percent in July 2015 to 8.35 percentage in March 2016. It is the only circle for the company where they make a three digit profit.

According to Trai report published on 12 August 2016, BSNL has a rate of 98 percent resolution rate of complaints within four weeks, along with 100 percent resolution within six weeks, bringing its performance index to 95.60 making is the best in the parameter. According to the same report, the 3G network quality as tested by Trai is the best in India with the cumulative rating of 99.90. According to the same report, almost all BSNL circles showed a positive growth except Karnataka and the BSNL Kerala growth at 1.79 percent is 2.5 times more that the industry average growth where 15 lakh new mobile connections were added by the company.

It is also important to note that the company will roll out 3G in approximately 258 towns across Kerala, which may be shocking to the people who can't live without the internet. The company will be upgrading all the towers from the old Motorola hardware to the latest equipment to Chinese hardware. Since the rollout to 3G in many towns, there have been issues with the company facing SIM shortages after the MNP (Mobile Number Portability) and towers going offline during power outages after switching to intelligent network back March 2015 as reported by The company seems to have fixed the issues as evident by the growth and benchmarks set in the Trai reports.

We went down to the website in search of the services and plans being offered by the company in the state and found a wide range of services at very reasonable prices for users. Offers such as Fiber To Home, cheap internet plans, free calls on local and STD during the Independence day, free calls on local and STD on Sundays in addition to night calls are great to pull users to the services being provided by the company. Offers of free normal as well as micro SIM card to ensure customer convenience, where the latest smartphones are demanding micro SIM cards to be inserted in the phones instead of normal sized SIM cards, is surely being appreciated by the users. The company has also been offering bulk corporate Wi-Fi plans to pull corporations to its networks.

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BSNL Website on the left while the MTNL Delhi website on the right.

In addition to a good service, we took a look at the website by BSNL Kerala and the website was a brilliant example of how to stay updated and create a responsive website, giving us a small glimpse at how BSNL Kerala is serious about serving people at least in that area. This is a far cry from the MTNL websites that we have encountered in the national capital. The presence of smartphone apps across Windows, Android, iOS and even the now defunct Blackberry OS is beyond amazing for the state-run BSNL. Even though the Android and Windows phone apps are barebones at best while the iOS app is decently passable.

After looking at the services provided by BSNL, thorough reports put out by TRAI on all the benchmarks and parameters, its suffice to say that BSNL Kerala is not just your typical government-owned telecom operator. The pace and reasonable price associated with the plans put out by BSNL, it is safe to say that BSNL is has a solid plan. Even though the situation may not be same in each and every state, it sure is better while comparing the measurable parameters with another government -owned telecom provider, MTNL.

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