Thursday, April 2, 2009

MTNL: Always Fool's Day

After the ATMs yesterday, it's the turn of my Net connection to break down, forcing me to head for the neighbourhood cybercafe. It isn't just me: most subscribers to MTNL's broadband service were unable to access the Web through the day. The employee who registered my complaint said they've been overwhelmed by calls from irate customers. Apparently, MTNL officers have struck work today over wage demands. I suspect there's been some sabotaging of services as part of their protest.
Have these chaps done anything to deserve the pay hike they're demanding? Despite all the benefits the government provides MTNL and its sister concern BSNL, the two companies are struggling to keep pace with private telecom operators. Of course, managers will provide a litany of grouses that appear legitimate, but consider this: the government has given the two firms a huge, many would argue unfair, headstart in rolling out 3G services across the country. You'd think they'd immediately launch a massive campaign to capture customers, but two months after starting 3G operations in Delhi, MTNL has attracted only 300 subscribers. 300! BSNL has launched 3G in 24 towns, and now has a subscriber base of, wait for it, 2900.
The delay in 3G auctions was the final failure for a UPA telecom policy that's been a shambles from the get-go. Eventually, though, Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance and others will be permitted to offer enhanced mobile connectivity. Once that happens, the public sector undertakings will have trouble retaining even the few thousand clients they have on their roster.


Chandni said...

Now I have some clarity on the annoying trouble I was having with my MTNL net since 1st morning!

What was worse was the million times I tried calling them on 1st to register my complaint. The first time I got through to someone she asked me to hold the line and never came back. Every time after that I just couldn't get through until the evening when instead of letting me know that others were also facing problems (made me feel better when I learnt that yesterday - knew they'd fix it sooner rather than later), she just insisted I dial '1' to talk about the problem.

As if I hadn't tried all that before!

Anonymous said...

I understand the 300+2900 getting the PSU 3G service due to lack of options...but why do customers for the rest of voice and data services continue with them? Customer service? apparently it their network, service quality, price?

Girish Shahane said...

In my case, it is lack of choice. Airtel and Reliance have issues with last-mile connectivity, MTNL has a massive advantage there.
I have to say the private operators are pretty inefficient with their marketing of broadband. Go to Airtel's website and try finding a number to call for enquiries related to internet connections: it's terribly frustrating.
My connection's still not working right, couldn't post yesterday. And MTNL has no explanations, tempting people like myself to go with the sabotage hypothesis.
I've been looking for news about an undersea cable fault, or similar issue that may have led to the internet outage, but haven't found anything along those lines.