Senate body slams PTA’s process of Sim verification
ISLAMABAD, May 20: A Senate committee has asked the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to ensure proper monitoring of mobile companies.
The Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat, which met at the Parliament House under Senator Abdul Ghaffar Qureshi on Tuesday, criticised the way cellphone companies issued Sims to consumers, without proper verification by the National Database Registration Authority. It directed the PTA to properly investigate the matter.
During a PTA briefing, the committee said that the Pakistan Telecommunication Act needed to be improved.
Chairman PTA Maj-Gen (retd) Shahzada Alam informed the committee that the PTA was created to promote foreign investment, encourage competition, protect consumer interests and ensure quality services. He said that regulating the telecommunication system, creating fair competition promoting modernisation, disposing of applications for radio spectrum and submitting recommendations to the government for framing viable policies were some of the functions assigned to the authority.
He said that there was no fee for registering satellite services while the regulatory fees, initially levied at 4 per cent, was first reduced to 1.5 per cent and then to 0.5 per cent. He said that keeping in view the difficulties faced by people in far-flung areas, the licence fee for value-added services like SMS had been reduced to 50 per cent against fees of what was being charged in other parts of the country.
The PTA chairman said that cellular mobiles had witnessed a tremendous growth during the past six years. In 2003, 6.5 million mobile phones were in use in the country and the numbre rose to 85.6 million in April this year. He said that the PTCL had spent Rs1.2 billion for upgrading its infrastructure and approximately $3.4 million was being spent by each mobile operator.
He said that verification of mobile subscribers was in progress and assured the committee that Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICS) had been made mandatory for issuing Sims.
The committee made a number of suggestions for incorporation into the new procedure for issuing Sims.
The meeting was attended by Senators Abdul Raziq, Muhammad Abbas Komaili, Muhammad Ali Borhi, Rashid Ahmed Khan, Mrs Rehana Yahaya Baloch, Mrs Fauzia Fakharuz Zaman, Chaudhry Muhammad Anwar Bhinder, Rehmatullah Kakar, Kamran Murtaza and Dr Safdar Ali.