PTA identifies flaws in telecom cos' operation -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

PTA identifies flaws in telecom cos’ operation

LAHORE: Cellular services are said to be resisting fine-tuning of telecom regulations that could ensure policing of telecom traffic, lower tariffs and improve service quality.

The News has learnt that PTA has identified some flaws in the operations of the telecom companies that include identification of subscriber through his/her Computerised National Identity Cards, mushroom installation of telecom towers by each mobile operator instead of sharing the facility etc. The regulator is still lenient of quality of service, consumers’ complaints on excessive billing and higher interconnects charges of the telecom operators.

The regulation to issue SIM only against CNIC has been openly flouted by the telecom operators. This according to telecom experts has given rise to many problems. The number of obnoxious calls and SMS has increased many folds in past three years, as the unethical callers are not bothered if their SIM without CNIC is blocked. They get another connection by paying Rs50-150.

In case the new connection is issued against CNIC and the SIM is blocked the subscriber would be bared from getting new connection from any mobile operator provided the blocking information is available with all of them. If the CNIC of subscriber were available then any defaulter of one operator would not be able to shift to another operator.

Each cellular service has installed communication towers throughout the country to ensure accessibility of its services in larger areas. These towers could be found in large numbers within a radius of one kilometre in big cities. According to telecom experts even 25 per cent of these structures could service the needs of the consumers of all mobile operators.

The PTA has in fact been urging them to share this infrastructure to reduce cost and ensure better environment. The companies having larger network are resisting the move as all operators would have the same level of accessibility. They even neglect the fact that those using their facility would also pay some service charges as well that would substantially reduce their operational cost.

Some operators with larger network also support some of the moves of PTA. Managing Director of Wateen Telecom Tariq Malik favours sharing of infrastructure to save cost. He stressed the need to rationalize interconnect charges.

Some experts point out that most operators have drastically reduced the charges of calls made within their network to Re1 per minute. But for calls made by other subscribers to their network are charged at Rs1.25 per minute. This means that the operator earns more if the calls originate from outside their network. Telecom experts say that there is a need to rationalize this anomaly.

Similar discrepancy exists when a mobile call is made to PTCL landline. The PTCL charges its subscriber Rs2 per 5 minutes for a local call. In case of five minutes call from mobile phone the PTCL gets Rs2.50 per five minutes because its connectivity rates for mobile operators are Rs0.50 per minute.

The telecom operators also face some problems while enlarging their infrastructure. Different provincial and local governments levy differemnt charges, as Wateen’s Tariq Malik pointed out that the right of way demanded by authorities from Sibi to Gawadar is $1 million. Similarly the Sukkur administration demand Rs1,000 per meter as right of way to the operators while Sialkot authorities asked for Rs5,000 per meter. He said the regulator should ensure through federal government lower and uniform rates for laying infrastructure.
Source: The News
Date:2/5/2008