Wednesday July 24, 2024

NA body concerned over poor cellular service

By Our Correspondent
March 14, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecom on Monday expressed concern over poor service and weak signal problems of cellular mobile operators across the country.

A meeting of the committee held under the chairmanship of Mir Khan Muhammad Jamali directed that telecom companies improve their services in the best possible way within their available resources. The PTA briefly apprised the committee of independent surveys conducted in Chitral, saying that the surveys proved that the quality of network services were found below required standards. Therefore, the PTA would initiate action against telecom operators and its report would be shared with the committee. It was told that 4.6 million population of Balochistan was covered by telecom operators and most of the areas service was blocked due to the law and order situation by security agencies. The chairman USF informed that 40% of USF funds were spent on Balochistan in collaboration with telecom operators, which was the highest amount incurred amongst all the provinces. The telecom operators said the problems being faced by them had been shared with the PTA for the provision of uninterrupted services to customers.

The telecom operators argued that despite mobile operators’ multiple SOS calls to the government and warning that the country is heading towards a digital catastrophe due to non-opening of letters of credit (LCs) for the import of essential telecom equipment, pegging of telecom licenses with dollar and pricing restrictions, the government has remained unmoved. They sought a moratorium on quality of service from the PTA in the recent past on the ground that when the imported equipment was not available, how they could be penalized.

The industry made it clear that the current average revenue per user (ARPU) of 80 cents was the lowest in the world. For the industry to survive, this must stay above $1.5 as the cost structure was dollarized (spectrum fees, capex, fuel, electricity, etc). Otherwise, the companies could not be held responsible for lagging behind in improving quality of networks.