The telecom honeymoon in Pakistan which lasted about 5 years (2002-2007) allowed Pakistani consumers to leapfrog over older landline based infrastructure and get cheap and quick access to modern telecommunication technology. The investors, telecom businesses and Pakistani treasury – all made good money and it was a win-win situation. It seems that the golden period for Pakistan telecom is over. The spike in teledensity and corresponding load on the new infrastructure is causing a number of service issues. To add fuel to fire the telecom rates for calls to Pakistan and within Pakistan have started rising, causing a lot of concerns. Consider the following points from the last few months:
Deceptive advertisements by Mobile Companies
Rise in local call charges by PTCL
Calls to Pakistan made more expensive
PTCL forces Pakistan package on its customers
Customer service calls are not free any more
Telecom consumer protection laws still in draft
Other emerging cosumer gripes
Some people hold the view that given the tremendous progress made, complaining about telecom situation in Pakistan is not justified. Yes, there have been great advances made but if we do not fix the structural issues early on, we will lose much of that progress. Left unchecked we may even regress to a point where thereâ€™s plenty of competition but consumers end up without the services they deserve at a fair price. Broadband is an appropriate example. Pakistani public has been tormented with poor service and caps on the usage.
I believe that with the right regulatory measures, consumer protection laws and a code of ethics we can keep the telecom sector on the right track.