June 20, 2022 – The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has responded to the reports of possible connectivity outages that surfaced after telecom operators raised their demands and concerns at a meeting with the Senate Standing Committee on Finance last week.
On Friday, June 17, the telecom firms warned the Senate Standing Committee on Finance that there might be connectivity loadshedding in the next fiscal year in Pakistan with mobile phones being shut down for hours if the customs duty on fibre optic cable and other telecom taxes were not significantly reduced.
“We want to share the doomsday scenario with you as there will be connectivity loadshedding hitting the country in 2023 if the duty and taxes on fibre optic cable and other taxes on the telecom sector were not reduced substantially,” representatives from major telecom companies have been quoted as saying in several reports published by local news outlets. “There will be shutting down of mobile phones for hours and ATM services will be disrupted because there will be no connectivity ensured without fibre optic cables.”
Besides requesting the government to slash taxes on fibre optic cables, representatives also asked the government to reduce advance tax on prepaid cards from 15 to 10 percent.
The reports sent a wave of alarm among users across social media platforms. The PTA, however, in response to a tweet on Sunday, stated the reports of connectivity blackouts were being presented out of context.
“The mobile operators operate under the conditions, rules and regulations as laid out in the licence issued by the PTA,” the telecom operator said. “It is mandatory for the operators to provide uninterrupted services to the customers and if they fail to do so, the regulator has the authority to take appropriate action.”
Last month, Federal Minister for Information Technology, Syed Aminul Haque, said that telecom firms need to upgrade their infrastructure to improve the quality of their services across the country. The minister urged the telecom sector to upgrade their infrastructure, especially in urban areas, and added that the IT Ministry is providing 90 t0 95 percent subsidy to provide broadband internet and mobile services to remote and underserved areas of the country.