Pakistan’s telecom sector has seen phenomenal progress during the past decade. It has more than 48million cell phone users, and nearly 1.5 million wireless phone users.
To promote, and maintain fair competition and regulate the telecom industry and telecom services, three regulatory bodies “The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA)”, “Frequency Allocation Board (FAB) and “National Telecommunication Corporation (NTC)” were established in July 1994.
An important Telecom regulation from PTA enforceable from August 1, 2008, will bar all cellular companies to sell unauthorized connections. All the mobile phone service operators will sell their cellular connections after verification from the National Database Authority.
PTA has also issued an initial draft called the “Telecom Consumers Protection Regulations, 2008”, to populate regulations for protecting consumers’ rights.
Some of the main points from the draft are:
1. Service Interruption:
In case of planned network system enhancements, updates or upgrades, the consumer shall be given thirty (30) days prior service interruption notice by the Operator. Operators shall take all reasonable and the necessary measures to provide Consumers adequate arrangements/concession in case of lengthy outages or service interruptions for which due notice are not served to them.
2. Confidentiality of Information:
(1) All Operators or employees of Operators shall maintain confidentiality of information about Consumers and shall ensure that no information about Consumers is made available to any third person other than what is printed and published in services directories or required by any applicable law or agreed by the Consumer itself.
(2) Operators shall take necessary measure to ensure that information about Consumer’s use of the network or service, or the content thereof will not be available to any third person except duly authorized by Consumer or required by an applicable law.
3. Service Provisioning:
(1) Operators shall provide telecom services to Consumers as per the rollout obligations prescribed by the Authority under their respective licenses.
4. Withdrawal of Service:
Operators may withdraw the provision of any service to Consumers, provided such withdrawal is approved by the Authority and thirty (30) days prior notice is given to Consumers.
The proposed draft will benefit the Pakistani consumers at large and will critically regulate the Telecom industry in the country. PTA has been seeking further input from Telecom companies, consumers and telecom analysts to finalize these regulations to ensure that telecom consumer’s rights are well protected.