Cellular phone firms seek alternative sale channels -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Cellular phone firms seek alternative sale channels

KARACHI: Cellular phone companies are mulling to set up sub-franchise or model outlets to maintain their sales of SIMs cards again under direct supervision of their officials or franchises.

Sources in the telecom sector said that cellular phone companies’ proposed different options to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) in order to resume the SIMs sale at normal pace as a matter of fact the installment of biometric machines on large number of retail shops will be difficult as well as expensive till the deadline of February-end.

There is a huge gap created among the customers and point of sales of cellular operators because the franchises are limited to 1,850 mainly situated in big cities, an operator of mobile phone company said. In addition to it, majority of the customers wishing to buy SIM do not know the franchises locations even in metropolis hence sales are affected badly.

The retail outlets of more than 200,000 could not be equipped with biometric machines in such a short period but there should be a middle-way solution adopted by companies with the approval of PTA mainly to retain penetration of cellular phone companies in rural areas, the sources said.

A few mobile phone companies have set up alternative sales channels in the form of model outlets and moveable shops in different cities without approval of the telecom authority.

These companies are also running advertisement campaigns to boost up their sales with extra free minutes and SMS for getting edge over different operators. Sources said that a leading company has set up nearly two-dozen model shops with heavy branding and proper mechanism to boost their sales of SIM again.

These model outlets are being supervised by franchise owners directly in a way that sales would be increased but it is apparently violation of rules and unsecured without inspection of telecom watchdog, they added. Besides around 10 branded trucks of a mobile phone company having all different equipments is selling SIMs on different locations of different cities without any approval of the telecom watchdog.

The company though carried out sales campaign through moveable trucks in the past as well, however, it is not to be legal after issuance of instruction by PTA to stops sales.

Cellular phone companies on the directives of PTA stopped SIM sales on nearly 200,000 retail shops and guided general masses through advertisement and SMS not to buy SIMs sales from these shops except customer care centres and franchises.

The SIMs sales decreased to 4,500 to 7,500 per day in overall cellular sector, which stood nearly at 150,000 SIMs sales previously before implementation of new laws in line with the instructions of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Asharf.

All cellular phone companies should be allowed to resume their sales through model outlets and sub-franchise in the coming weeks as a matter of fact the subscription on different network has plunged sharply, an official of the cellular phone company said.
The authority should be taken on board by cellular phone companies and suggested them all alternative and foolproof ways to resume sales through model shops and sub-franchises, the sources added.

Customers wishing to buy SIMs are in trouble as point of sales are not in their reach. On the other hand, retail outlets are facing tough times as their 15 million SIMs were blocked by companies on the instructions of the telecom authority.

The sub-franchise or model outlets will not only be feasible for companies to maintain their sales channels with controlled investment, but it will also help retailers to unload their SIMs stock while allowing customers to purchase connection at their nearest destinations.

Daily Times