Internet service providers (ISPs) in Islamabad have registered complaints with the ministry of information technology against what they called ‘unfair’ market practices and ‘unreasonable’ policies.
‘Blocking voice packages on internet indiscriminately’ topped their list of worries.
‘The authority has been blocking internet IP addresses indiscriminately without issuing notices,’ said an ISP, adding ‘We don’t object that PTA blocks illegal traffic but most genuine customers like call centres, corporate and home customers have been facing problems every time they want to use this facility – cut off and significant decrease in flow of traffic.’
The ISPs approached the ministry regarding complaints in the recently signed DSL interconnect agreement between Pakistan Telecommunication Company and the internet service providers. ‘We categorically made a point that all the ISPs were signing it under protest because there was already a lot of pressure on us,’ said another ISP.
Even though the ISPs claimed that they had no objection to renegotiating the agreements, ‘Amendments were made by reducing the duration of the agreement to two years that was initially agreed to last more the ten years coinciding with the licences of the ISPs,’ said an internet service provider.
In their complaints, ISPs urged the government to look into the issue to remove the Rs150 PTCL line rent for providing DSL. ‘Our stance is that fixed line customers pay nearly Rs200 line rent separately. Another Rs150 line rent did not make sense,’ he said.
Even though secretary IT assured of immediate action but five months on the ministry of information technology has been silent. ‘The IT ministry is aware of our grievances. And we turn to them for solution,’ he added. PTA conceded blocking IP addresses but only those operating illegally.
‘Our system monitors heavy traffic over the internet and most importantly traces illegally operating ISPs. We involve the FIA to apprehend culprits and have had 100 per cent success. Issuing notices or early warnings would alert offenders before we move in on them,’ said an official with the PTA.
When contacted, an official in the ministry of IT also conceded that ISPs were facing problems regarding operations and the ministry was looking into it to provide them relief.