Banning night call packages
Cellular operators challenge PTA orders in IHC
By Muhammad Yasir
KARACHI: The cellular phone operators have challenged the order of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to stop all night call package and chatting services in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
The cellular phone companies jointly submitted a writ petition in IHC, saying that there is no law in the telecom laws that regulate content on telephony services, sources in the cellular sector informed Daily Times on Wednesday.
They said that cellular phone companies have offered many packages to customers, which could not be abandoned as many of them are useful to customers as against cited reasons of morality concerns.
Cellular phone companies can’t end all packages particularly those which are greatly in the use of customers for positive purposes, an official said. There is no such law in the country that imposes censorship on the conversation of two individuals or callers.
IHC has asked PTA to submit a response against the petition on November 26.
In contrast, another official said that cellular phone companies cited details of PTA orders regarding the ban on night call packages and chat rooms as they can’t stop all.
Telecom officials said night call packages are lucrative for the companies as they have managed to keep busy their, otherwise idle network, from midnight to 7am. Though the call packages generate quantum revenue as it is the best avenue for earning revenues in the cut-throat competitive cellular phone market, hence, any ban on the night call packages will hurt the earnings of cellular phone companies.
PTA recently issued orders to all cellular phone companies to end all night call packages and chat room services with immediate effect as these services are not suitable for social norms and considered immoral in our society.
According to the notification, parliamentarians have complained about the packages of chat room as immoral during their sessions.
According to PTA directives, Pakistan Telecommunica-tion (Re-organisation) Act 1996 is obliged to regulate competition in the telecommunication sector, protect consumer rights and ensure that the interests of users of telephony services are duly safeguarded and protected.
Due to liberalisation and cutting-through competition in the cellular mobile telephony market, the operators were encouraged to introduce various packages for consumers to provide them with better quality of services at affordable prices in the interest of consumers. However, it has been noticed with great concern that certain unholy market practices or packages against the norms of social structure and moral values of the society are being introduced by all mobile phone operators, PTA directives stated.
Recently a Senate’s Standing Committee on Cabinet Division had instructed PTA to stop all night packages offered by cellular companies for cheap hourly calls varying from Rs 1 to Rs 3 per hour.
Earlier in 2010, the concern was raised in the provincial assembly of the most populated province of the country, Punjab. And the same resolution was adopted in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly during the very next month against the services and its fallouts in the society.
However, as a federal subject, there had been no directive issued in the past to cellular phone companies who continued their services to their customers, which started in May 2008.