BSNL‘s search for a Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) appears to have ended with the appointment of Rakesh Kumar Upadhyay on 30th April 2011. Upadhyay was previously the CMD of government owned Telecommunications Consultants India Ltd, and he takes over from SC Misra, Member (Services) Telecom Commission, who had been given interim additional charge as BSNL CMD in March. Prior to that Gopal Das had been appointed BSNL CMD on August 2010, taking over from Kuldeep Goyal.

Upadhyay’s appointment comes at a time when public sector telecom operators are fighting for relevance in the market – MTNL and BSNL may have the highest number of wireline subscribers by virtue of being legacy networks, but they now have only around 12% of India’s total mobile connection base and around 8.86% of India’s active mobile connection base, as of March 2011. For BSNL, only 53.28% of its connection base is active, and in the past, there have been accusations of artificially increasing connection base. The chart below is for Active Mobile Connections per circle for BSNL, as of January 2011, with the dark blue bar indicating active mobile connections, and the light blue bar indicating total reported connections for that circle:

Upadhyay is an old DoT hand, having worked there from August 1975 to July 1996 in Planning, Installation and Commissioning, Commercial administration and operations, following that up with stints in BSNL, before joining TCIL. He was appointed CMD of TCIL 1st March 2007.

It remains to be see if Upadhyay has been brought in to turn things around in BSNL – by instituting the merger with MTNL, addressing labor issues, improving consumer proposition, or to just keep thing going the way they are. Down.