Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) is trying to devise a plan to settle a dispute between the wireless and cellular mobile phone sectors through a solution which could be workable for these two sectors. leading them to operate under the terms of their licenses.
The authority has received many complaints that Wireless Local Loop operators (WLL) and Cellular Mobile Operators (CMOs) are infringing their right of services through violating terms of mobility of services/ users.
The consultation on this issue was held in the past but the telecom watchdog could not devise a plan in this regard since complaints became the focus and not solutions during the meeting called for resolving their issues.
The cellular sector raised its objection more than ten years ago when the fixed line operator, PTCL opted for wireless services. However, it was duly informed that the services of WLL operators would be limited to those areas where provision of telephony services are limited due to connectivity issue through copper wire.
WLL operators provided handheld sets to customers with a tariff plan very similar to the post-paid user of cellular phone or monthly calling packages for free on-net minutes and limited off-net minutes. The operators believed that they could allow their customers to use their services in different parts of the city.
However, WLL operators were not allowed to provide services using handheld device or use of telephone set in different regions. In other words, if a WLL connection is provided through telephone set for home, it can’t be utilized for office in another area having connectivity with a different terminal.
Cellular phone operators raised this objection as they believed it as a failure to implement limited mobility within the spirit of Telecom Policy 2015. The policy would allow the landline operators to step-over cellular business and because of this, they will end up acting like a cellular operator through back door. This could effectively erode the business plans of the cellular operators who obtained cellular licenses against an auction price of approximate US$ 310 million.
The telecom regulator did not allow WLL operators for providing services through handheld devices but it allowed them that a call once setup within a home-cell may also continue outside the boundary of the home-cell.
However, for call setup it would be mandatory for the terminal equipment to remain within its home-cell and that outside the home-cell the call shall not setup whatsoever the case may be. Cell was also defined for WLL, which refers to the geographical area covered by a predefined radio base station (RBS/BTS), consisting of one or up to three sectors of the single allocated frequency.
PTA asked the stakeholders of two sectors to come up with plans or suggestions which should be strictly restricted to limited mobility within the telecom regions and therefore other scenarios like inter-regional mobility, roaming to other networks are out of scope.
PTA will likely redefine the limited mobility within telecom region only based on the best international practices adopted by the countries to resolve limited mobility issues and broadband proliferation.
The authority issued a consultation paper in this regard and will receive inputs and comments of stakeholder to decide a clear strategy in this connection.
It gave the examples of two countries in the consultation paper including India, Bangladesh, Nigeria and UK which witnessed similar situation and resolved amicably the solution through devising a regulatory regime.
PTA asked ten questions related to the issue to get the input of the stakeholders for resolving the issue of conflict between the two sectors. These questions along with details of complete scenario can be viewed here.