Govt Bigwig’s Son Backing Telecom Cartel

Son of a top person in government is allegedly hindering the way of multiple companies for deploying undersea cable, just to maintain the monopoly of existing operators, reported ‘The Nation’ today.

Nation, in its report alleged that existing three undersea fiber optic cable operators have joined hands with the said person to block the road for any upcoming operators.

Following is the excerpt of report produced by ‘The Nation’

Son of a top government functionary is reportedly backing the powerful telecommunication cartel that has the ownership of existing undersea fibre optic cables in Pakistan, TheNation has reliably learnt.

The aforesaid individual has reportedly joined hands with telecommunication giants to help them maintain their monopoly in order to block the way of other telecommunication companies from getting the optical fibre cables (OFCs) deployed undersea within the sea jurisdiction of Pakistan.

Presently, there are three undersea OFCs installed through submarines in Pakistan. The entire internet data trafficking to and from the country is carried out through these three cables, which belong to semi-private and private sectors. Of these OFCs, the two are part of the global inter-continental fibre optic network known as SEA-ME-WE (South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe), and these cables are called SEA-ME-WE III and SEA-ME-IV undersea cables respectively. The Government had issued a separate licence for the installation of each undersea OFC.

Sources in the telecom sector are of the view that the existing three OFCs do not fully cater for the growing demands of internet usage in Pakistan and there should be at least five OFCs installed undersea.

The issuance of more licences for the deployment of undersea OFCs would encourage competition that would reduce the bandwidth tariffs eventually leading to the abolishing of monopoly of the few. “In telecom sector, every penny makes quite a difference. If new undersea optical fibre cables are installed and more telecom companies step in, it would reduce the tariff rates manifolds that would certainly facilitate everyone,” sources mentioned.

The need for the deployment of more undersea OFCs in Pakistan was felt for the first time in 2005 when a ship-troller had damaged an undersea OFC resulting in the partial suspension of the internet services across the country. The then government had decided to install more OFCs considering rendency factor.

The deliberations between the telecommunication companies and the Government for the issuance of fourth undersea OFC licence have been underway lately but the alleged support of the aforementioned top government guru’s son for the telecommunication cartel has landed the matter in abeyance.

When contacted, an official concerned of Ministry of Information Technology, requesting anonymity, argued that the prevailing scenario pertaining to undersea OFCs in Pakistan did not portray a monopolistic picture.

“I don’t think there’s any monopoly. There are three companies, including private sector, which own the OFCs in Pakistan,” he said. The official refused to comment on the involvement of government functionary’s son in this matter.

He expressed ignorance about the reported deliberations that had lately taken place between the Government and telecom companies for the issuance of fourth licence for deployment of undersea OFCs.