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PTCL’s monopoly in Karachi comes to an end

KARACHI: The monopoly of the state-owned telecom giant, Pakistan Telecommunications Company (PTCL), over fixed line telephones, is coming to an end in Karachi with the start of the new year, as two new private telecom operators are ready to provide fixed line as well as wireless connections to new subscribers.

“We are hopeful that Telecard and WorldCall will provide fixed line and Wireless Local Loop (WLL) connections to people in Karachi by January next year,” said Colonel Rizwan Hyderi, the Regional Director, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Karachi.

The PTA official said that in the first phase, WorldCall will start its operations in certain select localities of the city, including Defence, Clifton, PECHS and II Chundrigar Road but soon the company would expand its services to other parts of the city. Telecard Limited would give wireless connections to people of the metropolis, he added.

It has been learnt that in some areas of the city, people were anxiously waiting for new telecom operators. The situation in New Karachi, Baldia Town, Korangi and some other PTCL exchanges of the metropolis are deteriorating, as hundreds of telephones are out of order in these localities for the last six months.

Besides, at present, the PTCL has also failed to provide new telephone connections to a large number of people, who had applied for these long ago. One of the major reasons, which the PTCL authorities have often cited for the delay, is non-availability of infrastructure.

Telecom analysts observed that by offering wireless telephone connections, the Telecard, Limited, would muster new customers, especially those who had been denied connections by the PTCL.

The PTCL had provided some 4.46 million connections to people throughout the country and analysts hoped that the arrival of new telecom companies would help increase the “tele-density” of basic telephony. At present the tele-density of basic telephony is three subscribers per 100 inhabitants while the tele-density of mobile telephony is 4.56 users per 100 inhabitants.

In July 2003, the government had allowed the private sector to enter the telecom market by announcing a telecom deregulation policy, which led to an end to the years old monopoly of the PTCL.

However, a spokesman for the PTCL told The News that the company was ready to meet any challenge in the deregulated era. “The President, PTCL, Junaid I Khan, has always said that the company is well prepared to face competition and the PTCL will also start giving wireless connection in Karachi very soon,” he added.

He said that the PTCL would give WLL (wireless local loop) connections in those areas on a priority basis where it was facing the network problem.

“We have to give some 2 million WLL connection throughout the country by June 30, 2005, and we see no threat from private telecom operators,” he said.

To date, the PTA had awarded some 84 licenses to some 36 companies for Fixed Line Local Loop (FLL); Fifteen companies have been given 90 licenses for WLL while 12 licenses were issued licenses for Long Distance International (LDI).

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