Hitting back: PTA steps up efforts to curb grey trafficking
KARACHI: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) seems to have emerged as a powerful and effective regulator in the past couple of months despite critics’ popular opinion about the body not performing up to the standards.
From carefully handling the process of spectrum auction for high-speed mobile internet services to taking practical measures for solving complex issues – grey traffic, illegal mobile SIMs – the telecom regulator has been active on all fronts.
The telecom sector’s regulatory body is using every channel of communication to ensure that its message gets across. It is running an aggressive campaign on radio, television, print and social media to educate the masses about the menace of illegal SIMs and grey trafficking, which is causing over Rs3.5 billion a year in losses to the national exchequer.
The PTA and cellular mobile operators (CMOs) have also started an SMS-based joint service that requests general public to report all illegal calls – international calls appearing as local numbers – to the regulator so it can investigate their source and take proper action. To intensify the campaign, the PTA has also launched a 24-hour complaint centre to receive complaints.
The awareness campaigns are in addition to the grey traffic monitoring equipment that the PTA deployed early October. The newly acquired system has the capability to automatically block the IPs of telecom gateways, which are not in the PTA’s white list – a list of IP addresses, which are clear and not involved in any suspicious activity.
On the other hand, the telecom regulator has also directed and supervised all CMOs to complete the deployment of biometric devices at their customer support centres and franchises in Karachi by November 30 and all over the country by December 20.
Mobile phones without international mobile equipment identity (IMEI) numbers are widely used in criminal activities as well as in grey telephony. According to Dawn, the PTA has asked customs officials to ensure that importers submit the design and IMEI number of cellphones to the regulator before their consignments are cleared.
“As a result of these awareness campaigns, the responses to the PTA’s complaint centre have increased,” said Khurram Mehran, PTA’s spokesperson.
Complaints are helping the telecom regulator to investigate and take action, including joint raids with the Federal Investigation Agency, against the offenders, he said.