Mobile services suspension on 14th: Industry to suffer Rs 1b loss | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

Mobile services suspension on 14th: Industry to suffer Rs 1b loss

By: Usman Cheema

ISLAMABAD: It is expected that the mobile services will remain blocked in several areas of country on March 14 as a preventive measure to stop any possible terrorist activity in long march announced by Tahir-ul-Qadri. Industry would have to suffer a loss of Rs 1 billion again due to blockage of mobile services.

Rehman Malik has invented this unique preventive measure, which was first introduced on Eid-ul-Fitr, to stop bomb cxplosions in the country on different occasions. Rahman Malik’s novel idea of suspending mobile network services violates licensing agreement between PTA and telecom companies, causing billions of rupees loss to business community including Rs 1 billion per day loss to telecom companies.

Sources in telecom sector informed TheNation that no prior notice is served before blockage of cellular services. They said that these kind of eleventh hour decisions made by Interior Minister cause troubles for business community and for the public across the country.

The sources also said that Rehman Malik just passes the orders without thinking the impact of the decision on on business community and telecom industry. Telecom companies in that regard filed a petition in Sindh High Court challenging the suspension of mobile services by Rehman Malik. It is pertinent to mention here that Rehman Malik has found the easiest way to fight terrorism and making security arrangement on different occasions that consists of only one major move that is blocking mobile services in a particular area or sometimes across the country, depending upon the nature of event.

Rehman Malik a few days back had also issued some orders to PTA affecting telecom companies that do not come in his jurisdiction and violate the agreement with the telecom industry. One of the examples is putting ban on SIM-portability services. This move of Rehman Malik did force the consumers to get exploited by their service providers, as they do not have the option to change their network after this order passed by Rehman Malik.

The aforementioned order of Rehman Malik proves no logic behind it, as SIM-portability has nothing to do with the security arrangements. It has earlier been reported that if a SIM has been ported to another network, the data goes along so it creates no hurdle in tracking the information (if needed).

When telecom companies were asked about their response to the blocking of mobile services in the country on different occasions, Atifa Asghar, Director Corporate Communications and Responsibility of Telenor said, “We believe that suspension of service on various occasions is against the provisions of Telecom Act and also against the licensing agreement. Therefore, we have challenged the suspension of service in Sindh High Court. The matter is currently sub-judicial and therefore, we cannot comment any further on the subject.

When asked what is approximate loss the industry has to suffer due to blocking of services, she said, “Total monthly industry revenue is close to around Rs 35 billion. The industry loses around Rs. 1 billion in revenue for each day network remains suspended. Not only does the industry loses revenue, but government also loses 33% in taxes due to these network suspensions.”

The Nation

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