Mobilink Gives its Subscribers a Quiet Sunday


For the masses of Mobilink customers, this Sunday was a nostalgic experience of the days before cellular communication as the company recreated a sense of tranquility by going offline.

While protests did not break out and chaos did not take control, it did send a sudden realization of how important this little gizmo has become to us.

The immediate reaction of many as they saw the bars disappear from their handsets was ‘Mera signal nahi aa raha’ (‘I am not getting any signals’), and the glance at friends and families to check if they were the only desolate soul to suffer this unimaginable wrath or were there other victims to seek solace from.

The Telenor talkers boycotted their ‘Khamoshi’ and the Ufone Uth laughed out loud, while the Warid stronghold simply shook their heads in silent disapproval. The Zong crowd was too busy with their own stuff to worry about anyone else. But the fingers arose pointed at the Mobilink mob, blaming them for being part of an evil cult that simply never worked. A little exaggerated!

What Actually had Happened?

A norm among the millions of cell users when something goes wrong is to call their helpline. However, that is hard to do when there is no line to call for help. So, the resourceful ones took to the web to figure out why they had been placed into this dreaded ‘no link’ zone. And then the sharing of tweets and statuses began, with the venting of anger and frustration.

It took a few hours for the realization that something serious had occurred. The slow trickle of news from various sources spoke of a fire at some center in Islamabad that belonged to a telecommunication company. And it is not that hard to put 2 and 2 together.

The more connected individuals tracked down the carnage to a fire that had broken out at Mobilink’s Mobile Switching Centre (MSC) in Islamabad.

We have here the official version of what had exactly happened!

For those who don’t know, MSCs are exchanges that make the connection between mobile users in a network, and the result from any damage to its infrastructure or system would have effects for the entire base it supported.

Who was impacted?

The preliminary estimates showed that the North region went down as the fire engulfed the MSC, which means Peshawar to Islamabad and the surrounding areas. Along with the cellular service, DSL services by Link DOT Net also got affected as the company is reliant on the Mobilink backbone for its products.

However, as the MSC was a vital component for cross-country connectivity, the loss of service extended to other regions, with subscribers as far as Karachi suffering.

Bad few Months for Mobilink!

Unforeseen events are an unfortunate by-product of the corporate environment, especially in the technology sector. In areas that are furnished with wires, electric gadgets, batteries and loads of other inflammable goods, the smallest of issues can end up causing significant headaches for the entire company as well as its consumers.

For Mobilink, the past few months have seen these events become a bit too regular. The fire at Beverly Centre in Islamabad was followed by a fire at a technical facility in Karachi, and then the event on this Sunday.

While one cannot place blame as such events could and have happened to other companies in the same sector, the conspiracy theorists see a deeper connection. For one, Sundays seem the black day of the week for the Pakistani cellular giant, especially their technical division. The irony here is that ‘I love Sundays’ is one of the shout-outs for the product portfolio of the company.

At the international level, cellular companies have long established contingency plans that map out the path for it to ensure continued service to its consumers. These plans involve various scenarios which could play destructive roles for the company’s network. In certain cases, such plans are drawn up as a result of an event for which the company wasn’t prepared, to ensure better response for the future.

However, such a strategy is devoid in the case here. If you get burnt once, human nature is to ensure greater care when approaching similar scenarios again. For corporate entities, common sense seems to be much lower down the order. It beggars one to understand what level of skill and thought is undertaken when core facilities are planned and manned.

Over time, analysts have stated that the current network of Pakistan’s leading cellular company has aged beyond its serving base. In some ways, this could relate to the earlier deployment compared to the competitors. But incremental innovation is the key to remain strong, irrespective of industry. It is through such innovation that an entity can ensure it solutions remain a viable aspect for competition in the market.

Related conspiracies have raised allegations of arson on the company, stating that insurance money is used to pay for replacements with upgraded technology. However, such allegations are unsubstantiated. They also are not the complete picture of the corporate lifecycle, as it would be hard for a company to repair its image and consumer confidence with such ease.

Loss Estimates?

The estimated loss from this recent event is said to run in the many millions of rupees. Add to that the lost revenue, and it is hard to imagine the above conspiracy to hold any grounding.

But what is harder to understand is the fragility of the network and how one link in the chain could end up causing headaches all around. Furthermore, why would a veteran of the cellular service in Pakistan not be better prepared for such calamities, especially in the wake of the incidents prior to this one?

One event should not stop the mobile provider from stopping to be reflected as ‘Apna Hai’. But this Sunday, usage on Mobile was ‘Sapna hai’.

While we pray for the early recovery of ‘Apna’ network, we reiterate the need to plan the implementation of technology at the same pace with which we continue to add the millions of users, and accumulate the many millions of profit.

  • While trying not too sound too biased, i would like to mention a few things:

    1. Natural Disaster, could have happened to anyone, any company, This is the first Major outage in Mobilink’s History, Please cut them some slack,Remember all the days that you DID have the service and never noticed it around.

    2. Not everything can have Redundancy, even geographical, There are many technical reasons for that, i’ll give you a small example, One Sim is registered on one server, you cannot have two servers registering it cuz it causes a conflict, while it is ensured that nothing happens to that server, incase of a disaster like this, there is nothing you can do but to restore it.

    3. There’s so many issues that are faced everyday but are dealt with on daily basis, none of them are noticed by the general customer cuz there’s redundancy and procedures define to ensure service. If something is just powered off by a fire, you cannot do much.

    4. All technical staff of Islamabad more than 200 employees have been here in the building trying to restore everything since sunday evening, none of them have gone home. There’s ash, there’s acidic fumes that are hurting our eyes and our throats, there’s water on the floor with electric cables and extensions running on them, i’ve seen national managers and even CTO working around dragging cables to turn equipment back up. I can assure you, what they have already gotten working is an achievement, I would like to see if any other network operator in Pakistan recover within 18 hours after an incident like this. None of you are actually here and seeing the condition of what the fire left us with.

    So please bare with us, while we work to bring our network back online. I can assure you we are more concerned than you are. For you its just a phonecall/sms/facebook , for us its our careers.

    • Thank you for the insider information. I wish that the company had done the same via email, the TV, etc.

      1. The article does state that this can happen to anyone, so that is not the issue.

      2. Precautions can be taken. Like an example, don’t put UPS batteries on top of one another, or near core equipment.

      3. Once you become a customer, you will notice all the problems. Sitting under the cushion of processes, and taking weeks to do things, is merely an excuse.

      4. “All employees including CTO are working”. Are they not paid to do that? Is the CTO’s job to sit in a glass office and have tea?

      Yes, I admire that you are trying your best. You worry about careers; well, some will finish as those responsible must suffer.
      But for the paying subscriber, it is the livelihood. You get paid, while my income stops when services stop. The least I want is information on when I will have it back.

      And to top it all…..LEARN. Fires are not natural disasters. They are caused by someone or something, and it is not mother nature.

      Best of luck.

      • Dear Technical Employee,

        I am pleased to have this info being made available to us so we can have a clear understanding of the problem we are dealing with.

        Dear Mobilink Subscriber,

        Firstly, if it is the rough patch for the network that has supported me for so much time, I would stay and rather than spreading panic, will wait for the recovery. I am sure the precautionary measures would be taken as it’s not a pocket-sized company running a small business but the telecom leader of the nation. I observe such kind of outages on my DSL every month or two and I am sure same is the case with you or anyone using DSL fixed lines. Secondly, this world isn’t a perfect place so things can go wrong even when you don’t expect them to happen at all. A wheel can go off even from a brand new car at 120Km/hr and you don’t stand a chance.
        Talking about being a customer, I am one and I used the alternate for the time being since yesterday and didn’t even find it worth the replacement because of weird voice quality and repeated call drops while driving.
        And if Mobilink is such a bad network to be a part of, you have been using it since you got hold of a GSM cell phone in your hand or in case later when you were allowed to use it. Were there no better options for you since then or something is wrong with MNP you are afraid of?

        Best of luck dear fellow subscriber, you don’t even know how to support a telecom family you are part of.
        You lack SUCH JAZBA!

    • Sorry to disappoint your thought but actually in the given scenario redundancy is very much possible.

      SIM doesn’t need to be registered at two bases, they are registered by one employee at his computer how is that accepted by every cell base ? It is simple replication which takes place and is very much possible.

      I am not trying to say Mobilink is a ghost or that other companies are better but after this incident Mobilink and others better learn.

  • I agree that something of this sort can happen to any company.

    Its good that after a fire they are back in service.

    P.S. I am not a mobilink employee neither their customer :)

  • Although im also a mobilink user and i have been compoletely deprived of service for the good 10 hours but then it is something which is in nobodys’ control.

    Yes, as a customer, getting angry and frustrated on not getting services is understandable then a little bit of empathy and patience is also very important.

    Mobilink services are now restored and i have spoken to 2-3 people i know in mobilink and they have confirmed that full services will be resorted with in a few hours.

    Take a chill pill, people and cut them some slack. Staying connected is important for all of us now whether we are customers or service providers.

  • As far as i know the firebrigades were still working in the morning on the i-10 office. as long as they are working its nearly impossible that you people are in the building working cause either u put water on the burning equipment or get electrocuted .. good public way of showing u are trying to work also the loss is above 100 million not less

    • Oye Zulu bhai, aap kya zong kay liyay kaam kertay hain? ya aag aap ne lagai thi jo ab yahn bhi laga rahay ho bhai jaan???

  • I dont know who your source is Mr.Zulu , you really need to reconfirm his news. its doing you no good, rather making you look really immature amongst all the comments.

    The last truck of the fire brigade left at 5am in the morning. so ‘as far as you know’ is wrong.

    Thank you very much for comments, tells us a lot about you. :)

  • The good news is that they partially resolve there problem and some of mobile are working know but due to high load of customers the service is badly effected.

  • After this incident, and the recovery of the network, i am proud to be a customer of Mobilink, as I am happy that even after such a tragic event, Mobilink’s network is back!!

  • @ TechnicalEmployee

    Imust appreciate the efforts you guys are puttig to restore your network. Yes Disaster do happen but I have to say about your below statement:

    “2. Not everything can have Redundancy, even geographical, There are many technical reasons for that, i’ll give you a small example, One Sim is registered on one server, you cannot have two servers registering it cuz it causes a conflict, while it is ensured that nothing happens to that server, incase of a disaster like this, there is nothing you can do but to restore it.”

    I would suggest Mobilink to come to Wateen Team for ensuring redundancy in their network if their own solution team has failed to design this :). Just kidding but it is possible as well

    • With all due respect Asad, Wateen and Mobilink are offering services of very different kind, not to mentioned the HUGE difference in user base, we’re two different networks, i am sure you dont have any MSC’s,IN’s,HLS in your network. I think if we’ve maintained the network since its been existing, we have an idea of what we’re doing.

      As for redundancy, if you’re as well placed in Wateen as you seem to be, i am sure you know, Wateen’s redundancy is passing through Mobilink’s Optical back bone, while Mobilink has been saved by Wateen in disasters like the flood last year which we are thankful for. So while the alliance your are proposing is already there, lets not make this personal shall we :)

      • Apart from the slight disagreemet, I am bound to appreciate the way you are defending your company. Every employee should have same level of loyalty for its employer.

  • I agree with technical employee here. Its a natural disaster…a fire could have broken out in any telcos office… Mobilink just happened to be unfortunate here. The true image of the sheer size and the professionalism of the company does show through however, by the fact that not only are they all working round the clock to serve us better but also they have managed to restore quite a decent service in quite a short time.

  • i’ve been using indigo for the last 7-8 years for my company and i’ve never faced a problem like this before. though the service is restored but i just want to do justice to the situation by stating that indigo has always been there, has been consistently providing quality service and it’s totally understandable to have accidents like these. thumbs up for restoring the service in a couple of hours!!

  • The good part is they are back and the worst par is “why it always happens with mobilink”???
    @ Technical Employee appreciate the way you are defending….but if you guys really wanna win the hearts of Millions of customers then the so called “valuable customer” should be given preference on careers hope you got it.

  • i don’t even get what this fuss is all about?? i have been a heavy cellphone user all my life and its been 15 years now. issues like these pop up every now and then… i have three connections with me all the time, and the sole reason being that the network goes down very often of one of these connections.
    i think it’s al propaganda, competitors create hype about the service mishaps of each other. and in this case, mobilink’s network went down for a couple of hours and what i see on these blogs is utter backlashing! grow up!

  • ab tou theek ho gya hai Allah ka shuker hai.. Alham du lillah koi casualties nai hoein and i think mobilink is THE BEST CELLULAR SERVICE in pakistan. never went down before this, ever.. i don’t agree with the criticisms up there…

  • yaar yay sab ajeeb pata nai kyun propaganda kertay hain.. network went down for only a little while. it’s fixed now!! :)

  • thanks for the comment, technical expert.
    we understand that accidents like these can happen. and we appreciate the timely fix! :)

  • yaar acha bhala network hai shuroo se, aik din band ho gaya tau sab log shuroo ho gae hain bicharon ko bura bhala bolnay. jab chalta hai us waqt tareef tau koi nahin karta. main tau speed se impress hoon bhai. aik din main sab kuch wapis fit faat!

  • love how the technical employee explained in detail..
    the sevice only went down for a couple of hours.. and i don’t get why people got so annoyed. network issues is a common thing. me being a loyal jazz customer, i find this reaction from people so annoying..
    love you jazz!!! and i’m sorry for the loss

  • its working perfectly now
    Shukhar hai sari baatay khatam hoi!
    Ab ham chup chap asaani sey mobilink use kar saktey hain!

  • Well ok, mobilink was down for 1 day and now its working,,,but fire is not a natural disaster, in simple science you need to combine 3 things, some material, oxygen and ignition source. A fire is clearly not considered an ordinary issue and preventive measures are always imposed to avoid it. Once its happened, this indicates a lack in our preventive measures, which are then revised.

    Else I am using mobilink for 10 years and yes like many, the only reason to use it is family and friends to have cheap rates and therefore avoid switching to other networks. I started using zong recently and wow they are amazing, their services and offers are just gr8 unlike mobilink who send such sms “30 tole sona jetiye, sms Rs. 10/tax” and most of the time trying to deprive people of their balance.

    Mobilink was termed “may be link” few years ago, when the connectivity was poor. I started using ufone gprs in 2004, while mobilink started this service in 2005 or 06 I doubt.

    I am working in a remote area mid of Khi n Lhr but near KLP road, again mobilink signals are the weakest among others, seems their hardware is getting obsolete fast after 16 years.

    A user of mobilink,,

  • oh come on… i think mobilink has the biggest network around. yes, other companies have competitive rate and sometimes cheaper, but when it comes to network coverage, there’s just no comparison. and i think the reason being that they are the oldest in the market.

  • I such discussion n articles doesn’t mean to blame anyone or who is better than who. We always head that it’s better to learn from other experience.. So every telecom company should learn from this experience n try to take better measures. Now have mobile is necessity not luxury.

  • Not going into a debate, I am just sharing my experience as I need signals where I am living. 12 km from sadikabad city, close to Fauji Fertilizer Company, adjacent to KLP road, mobilink signals are very weak n fluctuating. While zong and ufone have good coverage.
    3 years ago I mentioned this to mobilink but they didn’t care.

  • i think every company has shortcomings like these when it comes to network coverage. ufone doesn’t work in h12 islamabad and at my home, in chaklala rawalpindi!! :S
    so it’s all right, i guess.
    mobilink ki tou network coverage is the biggest according to so many statistics as far as i know..

  • janab aali chooro apna to sapna bun gaya mein 6 saal sa naqabil bardashat pay kar raha k ab sudher jain ghay,lakin aag in ka bee peecha ne choor rai
    is leay neywork he change kar raha hon.

  • close