PTA is Working on a Framework to Regulate Mobile Apps in Pakistan

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority is working on a framework through which it is hoping to be able to regulate mobile apps and OTT (Over the Top) services such as Whatsapp, Viber, Skype etc, we have checked with sources at the regulatory body.

Sources tell us that PTA has constituted a committee that is working on the said framework to be shared with stakeholders including telecom operators as soon as it is ready.

The committee has been tasked to formulate recommendations through which OTT services, mainly the mobile apps, will be brought under regulation in Pakistan.

PTA said that all efforts for getting a framework for regulating OTT are driven by Telecom Policy 2015, that MoIT approved and issued late last year.

For those who don’t know, Telecom Policy 2015 stated that Pakistan will make it mandatory for certain mobile apps to get NOC (No Objection Certificate) from PTA in order to operate in Pakistan.

Also Read: An Overview of Telecom Policy 2015

Telecom Policy 2015 had said that the framework will enable Pakistani government to make sure that such mobile apps are inline with our national interests and also that they don’t hurt telecom sector’s (operators) interest.

It is feared that PTA may ask certain apps to grant the government access to be able to operate in Pakistan. It is also likely that government may grant NOC only after charging a license fee from these OTT services.

However, just to be very clear, nothing can be said with certainty until we have the final recommendations from the committee.

Regulating mobile apps is a rare phenomena as they go unregulated all across the world, except few instances when app developers are asked by the governments to follow special instructions, but again it’s very rare and happens only when Government asks the tech companies in a tactical manner.

Not to be mentioned, Mobile phone operators would ideally want OTT services to be regulated. They are clearly not pleased with the way OTT services have been eating up their share.

“We would want it, definitely, but how will they do it?”, commented a CEO of a mobile company when we asked about his thoughts on the regulation.

New regulatory framework may also incorporate revenue sharing arrangements between local licensees (telcos for instance) and OTT players (WhatsApp, Skype, Viber etc), for offering differentiated version of the services (free and paid) so that licensed businesses could enter into mutual agreements with OTT service providers to monetize OTT service delivery on mutually agreed terms.

Government of Pakistan’s efforts in this regards are seemingly very ambitious as this hasn’t happened anywhere in the world as of yet, at the governmental scale at least.

But since Pakistan and PTA have a history of doing “World’s First”, let’s see what do they come up with.

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


  • Ganja League

    Ambitious isn’t a word that I’d use to describe these efforts. There’s a reason Facebook’s free internet initiative failed, and it happens to be (mostly) the same reason US government doesn’t own the internet despite inventing it in the first place; nobody should govern the internet, limit it or try to force a change as to how the masses can use it. As long as the apps in question aren’t breaking or bending the laws of Pakistan, the government has no right to do this.

    • Ali Salman

      This mindset is coming from GCC countries where telecoms like Etisalat claim that their business is effected because of other services and to benefit such operators regulators come up with NOC excuses and all. On the other hand it serves the purpose of government censorship.

      Soon democratic Pakistan will have same laws many arab countries have in the name of business interests and national interests. Surprisingly so far not a single operators has shown concern that their business is effected.

  • Masroor Hussain

    Who the hell are the Telecom companies to take even a penny from these OTT apps? Rather the Telecom companies should be sued for their looting schemes they come up with everyday. The government backs such telecos just eat up money.

  • Shahid Saleem

    This is more madness from PTA.

    Let’s rewind a bit to about fifteen years ago. Fifteen years ago, VoIP was starting to take off because more and more people were starting to get internet, especailly broadband in US/Europe. People were creating services like Skype, Net2Phone, Gizmo, etc. In Pakistan such activity was BANNED and considered ILLEGAL. It was not even clear whther computer-to-computer VoIP was legal or not. Consequences: all the Pakistani VoIP companies I know had to set up outside Pakistan. There are ZERO Pakistani-sourced VoIP products, they all customise someone else’s services or open source software. All because PTA made it hard to make VoIP services inside Pakistan, even after getting approval from PTA. (Anyone remember Faisal Chohan case? You think PTA is better now under civilian administration or just as bad?)

    Let’s not forget their failure to get cheap internet. Today about 21 years after the first commercial ISP in Pakistan, WE STILL DO NOT HAVE REALISTICALLY USEFUL PACKET INTERCHANGES. The thing that made it possible for services like Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail thrive and take over all local market, Pakistani companies could NEVER EVER compete with that. It just cost so much money, and that too prices in dollars instead of rupees. Imagine I have to send packets from a server in Islamabad to a user in Karachi, I am forced to pay international bandwidth rates even though 100% of my traffic remains in Pakistani fiber and copper wires. What madness.

    Now, PTA wants to regulate apps the same way on phones. You know what, Pakistanis can FORGET about writing the next WhatsApp or Viber or Line or any service like that. We can continue to be USERS instead of CREATORS all thanks to the “innovative” policies of the government of Pakistan. We can continue to read headlines about how many tens of billions of $$$ the services are making or how much they are being sold to Google, FAcebook, etc etc etc. We will NEVER be part of that, and we can thank the PTA for it.

    • LostMind

      and there is a Propakistani post just recent that Telcos sent million/billions of profits back to their foreign headquarters. Thats the price we are paying. No energy and they boast of roads. What do i do with roads when my stomach is empty, when i dont have car/ bike to drive? Are they so worth than education, employment, health, better living?

      • AbdulB1

        well telecos are business and when our ministers go to other countries they beg their investors to invest in Pakistan. Why?? because they have made this country into such a banana republic that no Pakistani wants to invest here. Everyone want to pay money and some how want to buy another nationality. People dont have hope in PK.

    • AbdulB1

      yea, funny when I remember what they showed on the news those days…. PTCL loses billion of rupees from Voip… citizens shows help national company and shun these Voip things…… bla….bla….bla…. the fact was it was PTCL who was charging people premium to call other countries and international companies were charging 1/100 of the price. Later ptcl shifted all it’s local calling network to voip too but people were just told look these services are killing a national company PTCL. PTcl still sucks…. services are still expensive and quality is un acceptable.

    • Eli Ehsan

      Bus karde Shahid bhai.. ab itna bhi na rulayen.. :(

  • Ishtiaq

    Ganjay se government lekar Almas Bobby ko de deni chahiye. Woh is se behter chala lay gi.

    • AbdulB1

      hahaha

  • LostMind

    They have heard that mobile app developers are making some money from apps business and does not pay them taxes so app developers you know what i am talking about…

    • AbdulB1

      that approach is still not okay. Many Pakistanis use American bank accounts without ever being in USA. how??? they use online services and get their money in local currency from local atms. And govt cant still charge them any tax. so govt is just stupid to think they can ask 25 percent tax and everyone will be happy to pay them..

  • LostMind

    Youtube homepage is full of vulgar videos which over the time are becoming more and more obscene. Have they done something regarding this? who is posting such videos and detain such persons, block those?

  • Eli Ehsan

    OH BHAI PTA. Dark ages called & they want you back in the 21st century coz they don’t want you to ruin the dark age era as well…. LOL