Telcos, Customers Lost Millions Due to Cellular Network Shutdown in Islamabad

Mobile operators suffered an estimated loss of Rs 18-20 million while the government around Rs 5-6 million due to 72 hours service suspension on the occasion of pro-Mumtaz Qadri sit-in at the D-Chowk Islamabad.

According to telecom sector as well as Pakistan Telecommunication Authority sources, cellular services were shutdown within 10 km radius of sensitive locations.

Other than direct losses to mobile phone companies, the service suspension also caused an estimated loss of around Rs 20 million to the government under the head of taxes namely Federal Excise Duty (FED) and Withholding Tax (WHT).

According to the officials this loss is in addition to those incurred by traders, business community and customers etc who operate their businesses within the federal capital during this period.

Moreover, those post-paid customers or subscribers who pay in advance to services such as data, voice, SMS etc. also incurred losses as they are charged regardless of the fact if service is available or not.

This was the second time in last ten days that cellular operators were directed to suspend mobile phone service for security reasons. Earlier, operators were asked to shut down services in the twin cities on March 21 and 23.

All mobile phone operators as well as general public were frustrated and were more worried about government’s fast becoming habit of blocking cellular service.

Mobile phone services were restored after a 72 hour black-out, after the government and protesters in capital reached an agreement.

Rehman Malik, former Interior Minister Rehman Malik’ has claimed that his decision of shutting mobile services has become an international SOS /SOP to block terrorists’ acts.

If so, Pakistanis should be happy that they didn’t register yet another record in the “Guinness Book of World Records” if the mobile services had remained suspended for fourth consecutive day in the twin cities including the federal capital Islamabad.