Mobile cellular operators incurred an estimated loss of Rs. 600 million yesterday due to forced service suspension in 15 cities of the country on directives of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, citing security reasons on Ishq-e-Rasool day.
At least two operators, who wanted not to be named, confirmed ProPakistani that revenue loss during this 14 hour service shut down is estimated to be around Rs. 600 million.
This figure translates into Rs. 180 million (or above) loss for government under the head of taxes namely FED and WHT, for which no one in the government is going to take responsibility for. This loss is in addition to Rs. 500 million in taxes that government had to bear just a month ago for blocking mobile phone services on Eid night.
Cellular officials told ProPakistani that almost 40 to 45 percent of mobile phone subscribers remained offline during yesterday’s planned shut down, causing cellular blackout in 15 population rich cities.
This was the second time in two months that cellular operators were directed to suspend mobile phone service for security reasons. Earlier, operators were asked to shut down service in four major cities on Eid night, a time at which mobile phone usage (and revenues for operators) grows by 20 times as compared to usual days.
All mobile phone operators, as we spoke with them, seemed utterly frustrated and were more worried about government’s fast becoming habit of blocking cellular service than the loss of Rs. 600 million. They rightly feared that government is overlooking industry’s concerns and interests to cover its inability of providing security on critical occasions.
We have more coverage planned on the topic, in which we will discuss the long term impacts of this cellular suspension, ins and outs of government’s decisions, damage caused during the blackout and more. We will also try to dig out any hidden agenda or secret aims, if any, associated with these service suspensions. Just after the break (on Monday inshAllah).