PTA is Set to Regularize Telecom Tariffs

In a bid to keep a control on telecom tariffs and service charges, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority is set to legislate “Telecommunication Services Retail Tariff Regulations, 2015”.

A deliberated draft of the regulation suggests that PTA will be able to make sure that tariffs of telecom services (mainly the cellular and broadband) are inline with consumers’ affordability and are not creating a cartel in the market.

Moreover, the regulation is also aimed at bringing more transparency in telecom tariffs to ensure that telecom operators clearly communicate any discounts, validity, allowed quota and end dates of a particular promotion.

Not to be mention, at the time of imposition of 10 paisas call setup charges in 2013 PTA had asked operators to withdraw these charges. However, operators didn’t listen to PTA and kept charging call setup charges of 10 paisas for each prepaid call by saying that PTA has no mandate to regulate pricing of the telecom sector.

This is going to change now.

According to the new regulation, PTA will have this authority to make operators reverse any charges imposed if they are deemed anti-competitive or burdensome on consumers.

According to the this proposed regulation, SMP (Significant Market Player) will have to get PTA’s approval before implementing a tariff change, for which SMP has to communicate clear details to regulator 30 days ahead of actual implementation.

According to the new proposed regulation, PTA can reverse any charges imposed if they are deemed anti-competitive or burdensome on consumers

Similarly, customers are supposed to be clearly communicated by the SMP for any tariff change.

Regulation said that PTA will have this authority to disapprove any tariff proposal from SMP if deemed anti-competitive too expensive for the consumers to bear.

Non-SMP, however, would be free to revise tariffs but they must communicate any tariff proposals to PTA 20 days ahead of actual implementation. Not to mention, customers should be notified about any tariff change 7 days ahead of actual implementation.

Moreover, PTA will also be given a authority to set tariff ceiling and tariff floor for both SMP and non-SMP telecom operators for their services.

Telecom industry, which is about to get hold of draft regulation to study it in detail, told ProPakistani that 30 or even 20 days intimation to PTA for any tariff revision is realistically very long.

Industry high-ups were of the opinion that a dynamic market like Pakistan demands quick decisions. “Things are calculated on hourly basis and this is where PTA needs to understand that 30 day window is an impossible proposition”, said the official.

After input from various stakeholders, this draft is likely to become a regulation with-in couple of months.

Here are few other noteworthy elements from the regulation:

  • All telecom service providers will have to offer free of cost emergency services.
  • Operators will ensure that all Tariff information is complete, clear and simple to understand.
  • No part of the advertisement, publication, brochure etc. particularly those related to service offerings and the tariffs shall be in micro fonts. Other than heading for which the font can be as big as licensee want , all the remaining text shall be in one uniform text.
  • Operators can not describe a package as being ‘unlimited’ if there is a limit to the number of calls, minutes, data volume etc being used.
  • Operators can not describe a package as being ‘free’ if there are any charges attached to that package.\The
  • Operators should not activate automatic renewal of subscription based packages upon the expiry of that package, without soliciting explicit consent of the subscriber/consumer.
  • The Licensees shall inform Consumers when they are approaching 80% of their credit balance or credit limit of a package.

You can download the copy of draft regulation by clicking this link (PDF File – 198KB).

Tech reporter with over 10 years of experience, founder of ProPakistani.PK