October 23, 2019

The Price of Progress

Jazz’s Chief Corporate and Enterprise Officer Ali Naseer discusses renewal fees and digital progress in Pakistan

In May 2019, Jazz and Telenor, two of the country’s top telecom providers went to court to protect the continuity of services to its customers as their cellular licenses were set to elapse by end of the month, as the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority had not decided the renewal of the respective licenses in a timely manner. 

As immediate relief the court directed that no adverse action be taken against the operators.  Later in June, 2019 the Islamabad High Court disposed the petition, directing the Telecom providers to PTA again. The court asked PTA to hear their grievances and decide the matter in a fair manner. The PTA once again quoted 449.2 million USD without justification.

Ali Naseer, Chief Corporate and Enterprise Officer at Jazz says that the telecom companies are taking a stance on principle, where it isn’t about how much money the PTA is asking for but the more important issue was giving them a proper framework and following the due renewal process.

Naseer also adds that Jazz filed for renewal 30 months before their cellular license expired and PTA failed to act on it. He says the renewal fee was announced after the matter was in Court, which was neither fair nor transparent.

PTA gave the telecom companies its final order on July 22nd, 2019, which means the companies have a month to appeal the decision in court. He said Jazz is currently exploring its options to see what is more feasible for them.

According to Naseer, if PTA does not reduce the fees, the consumer will suffer as the quality of service would drastically deteriorate. He said that companies like Jazz would eventually cut costs in infrastructure developments, concentrating services in area where they already have a significant footprint. 

Naseer was of the view that instead of charging them a high fees, PTA should ask them to invest in the cellular infrastructure in the country, which would benefit both the consumer and the government and support digital progress in Pakistan.

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