Quetta: Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) organized telecom Consumer Forum with a theme “Together for Consumer Rights” here, today. State Minister for Industries and Production, Dr. Ayatullah Durrani was the chief guest on this occasion while Chairman PTA, Dr. Mohammed Yaseen presided over the Forum. Consumer Representative, Mrs. Suraiya Allahdin, representatives from IT & telecom industry, telecom consumer groups, renowned social workers and academia also attended the event.
On this occasion, State Minister for Industries and Production, Dr. Ayat Ullah Durrani said that this forum provides us an excellent opportunity to review the telecom scenario in Balochistan for achieving desired targets in terms of service expansion in the area. He said that the telecom sector of country has witnessed a spectacular growth in the recent past. The province of Balochistan has the potential to gain further from this growth for its people as well as for the development of telecom infrastructure in the province, he added.
He said that Balochistan is gaining a lot of ground through implementation of last mile solution and increased network coverage. Major share in this increase of network coverage has been that of the mobile sector while Wireless Local Loop (WLL) services have also fared well recently in the province, he added. The Minister said that it would also have a positive spill over effect on the overall economy of the province creating increased economic activity in Balochistan.
Dr. Ayat Ullah further said that number of consumer- oriented steps have been taken by the operators under the guidance of PTA which not only facilitate the telecom consumers but also ensure their protection from poor quality of services. He said that the verification of user antecedents and blocking of unverified SIMs, successful introduction of new SIM Activation System and smooth implementation of “SIM information System-668” are some of the significant steps taken by PTA on SIM issue which would go a long way towards safe and legal use of mobile services. He also appreciated the launch of comprehensive mechanism for complaint lodging and redressal of consumer grievances by PTA and the telecom operators. He said that this initiative would ensure the availability of cost effective, accessible, prompt and accountable complaint lodging mechanism for the telecom consumers.
While addressing the forum, Chairman PTA, Dr. Mohammed Yaseen said that the statistics of recent telecom growth in Balochistan are evident of the satisfaction level of telecom consumers of this area with the quality of telecom services provided to them. He said that in year 2002 cellular teledensity in Balochistan was just 0.17% which has grew manifold after the completion of numerous development projects making this figure much healthier in March-2010 which is 34.3%. He said that during the last two years, the overall teledensity of the province has also grown from 29.3% in 2008 to 36.86% in May-2010. Total number mobile phone subscribers in Balochistan in last 8 years, has increased from 12,539 in 2002 to 2.8 Million in May-2010 showing an immense growth rate which in 2003 had reached the highest level of 600.8%. Apart from the cellular sector, he said, the Wireless Local Loop (WLL) is also showing positive growth patters in this area. Total WLL subscribers in Balochistan as of March-2010 are 109,079 while total number of Local Loop (LL) subscribers is 98,511 (March-2010).
Chairman PTA said that fiber optic is being laid from Balochistan to connect with Iran and Afghanistan while it has also been laid across Balochistan to provide telecom access to the local population. He said that PTA has deployed around 62 Rabta Ghars in Balochistan to provide basic telecommunication services especially to the rural population of the province.
Dr. Yaseen said that PTA is cognizant of telecom consumers’ needs and is taking every step to facilitate them in resolving their issues. In this regard, he said, we have taken number of consumer-oriented initiatives like introduction of Mobile Number Portability (MNP), system to block stolen mobiles through IMEI number, new consumer friendly SIM Activation System for the convenience and safety of mobile subscribers, establishment of Consumer Protection Department, Promulgation of “Telecom Consumer Protection Regulations, 2009” and “Protection from Spam, Unsolicited, Fraudulent and Obnoxious Communication Regulations, 2009” are some the important achievements of PTA. He said that organizing such consumer forums is yet another serious effort by PTA to address the consumer issues.
CEO Universal Service Fund (USF), Parvez Iftikhar said that the fund has started projects worth Rs.5.87billion in Balochistan which would help in provisioning of telecom services to far flung areas of Balochistan. This would bring economic betterment in the area, he added.
The consumer representative, Mrs. Suraiya Allahdin appreciated the role of PTA in focusing on consumer issues. She discussed spread of mobile phone across the country. She said that usage of internet must be checked and objectionable sites should be banned. She said that complaints lodging mechanism especially of PTCL may be improved. Presentations were also made by PTCL, mobile and WLL operators on this occasion.
Khurram A. Mehran