Telecom services in Barak Valley in doldrums

From Special Correspondent

Silchar, March 28: More the Prime Minister Narendra Modi talks of ‘Digital India’ and ‘go digital’, more the telecom services in Barak Valley seem to deteriorate. Subscribers in general wonder what ails the telecom services in this southern part of Assam. This is the scenario in urban areas. What shape it has taken in rural areas can best be imagined. Presently, there is a wild race among all the private service providers, not excluding BSNL, of course. According to official data, Reliance Jio has outpaced other services like Airtel, Aircel, Vodafone, !dea and BSNL.

Not long ago, BSNL was the top service provider in northeast. Today, it has taken a nosedive and the authorities concerned look indifferent to improve the services. It is strange that despite all its infrastructure and advantages of technology, it cannot even provide 4G network. According to an insider, BSNL is yet to overcome the shock of the reverses it suffered due to 2G Spectrum scam. It could not even take advantage of the vacuum created by the withdrawal of Tata Indicom from northeast. Instead, Airtel jumped into the fray and mopped up the its subscribers.

Subscribers of different service providers have complaints on varying grounds. In other words, no one is satisfied to get connected with any of the companies, state and private. As Baishali Bhattacharjee, student of B.Ed, said she changed her service provider from Vodafone to Reliance Jio. It was due to the fact that Vodafone network was not satisfactory. Presently also, she is not at all happy. This has been corroborated by Presenjit Dasgupta, share market analyst, who in search of infallible services, switched over from BSNL to Reliance Jio. At the earlier stage, Jio did provide better services, but of late it is sliding down.

The less one talks of BSNL is better. Subscribers have enormous grievances against its each and every service. It is the only landline service provider in the northeast. Quite strange, landline users today could not get connected with any mobile services. As Pankaj Nath Mazumdar who has landline connection since the 60’s expressing his anguish said, “Whenever I tried to connect with any mobile number, the stereotype answers have been ‘not reachable’, ‘check the number’, ‘all routes are busy, please dial after sometime’, ‘number does not exist’ and all sorts of funny things.” There are still a large number of subscriber who prefer landline to mobile connectivity.

Subscribers have no doubt various complaints against mobile and internet services. BSNL users like Umashankar Bhattacharjee, teacher, is fed up and finds himself in a piquant situation. As he said, “I have to use internet for my studies and other references. But, the poor quality of services is really disgusting.” Media houses with broadband connections have also not pleasant experience. Slow and frequently down network for them becomes a great irritant, standing in the way of collecting and dispatching information.

Much hope was generated when Airtel virtually grabbed the large number of customers of Tata Indicom. But, all has not been well. The complaints have been wide-ranging from customers. High billing, unsatisfactory network and slow internet services have all compounded to add to the woes of subscribers. Unhappy with the services, Rajesh Lal Sharma, who owns a mobile shop, shifted his and his spouse connectivity to Aircel, though the problem remains. !dea could not make any headway in attracting customers and is virtually out of reckoning.

Reliance Jio with its lucrative offers of free unlimited data and calls have taken into its grip a huge number of mobile users. This must have come as a shock to other service providers. It has been a sort of unhealthy competition in which the customers have been the sufferers. The increasing number of users is telling upon the network capacity and this has adversely affected the services of all service providers. With the onset of monsoon, if the quality of services becomes poor, what is in store when this valley will be lashed by heavy showers, stormy weather and thunderbolts, a common feature in this region of the northeast.

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