Pakistan contested ITU elections for a Council Seat and Radio Regulation Board (RRB) membership. The elections were contested with full preparations and campaign was launched jointly by Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Information Technology & Telecom (MOIT&T) and Pakistan Telecommunications Authority. Pakistan won the Council seat (117 votes) and Chairman PTA got elected as Member RRB (110 votes) with a comfortable margin. The number of votes obtained for both the candidates have increased considerably from previous elections indicating an enhanced position and image of Pakistan at international level.
Telecom Regulatory Environment in Pakistan – rated the best by LIRNEasia Sectoral growth and regulator's performance have been appreciated internationally. Last year, PTA received two international awards – "GSMA – Government Leadership Award" in recognition of effective regulatory framework for cellular growth, and Global Regulatory Exchange (G-REX) Award for PTA's active participation in the policy dialogue among the telecom regulatory bodies.
Recently a study has been conducted by LIRNEasia (Organization based in Sri-Lanka) for the regulatory assessment of the Telecom Authorities in the six selected countries of Asia (Pakistan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Philippines and Thailand). This study has rated the Telecom Regulatory Environment (TRE) of Pakistan as the best in the group of these six countries. TRE, has been rated the best on the basis of its effective regulation in terms of market entry, interconnection, universal service and utilization of scarce resources. Regulatory Measures
After successful deregulation of the telecom sector, the PTA is endeavoring for higher telecom growth in the country. Prudent and transparent policies are also in place to achieve this objective and the PTA has taken several measures for the uplift of the sector including Mobile Number Portability (MNP), simplified licensing, telecom liberalization in AJK and NAs, International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) system to counter mobile handset theft, rural telecom development, quality of service and consumer protection. Licensing of Telecom Services
Issuance of licenses for the telecom services in Pakistan is one of the core functions of the PTA. In this regard, transparent and simple procedures have been adopted and till now, the PTA has issued 6 cellular mobile licenses and 92 WLL licenses for operations in different telecom regions. Similarly, a total of 84 licenses have been issued for the provision of Fixed Local Loop services to 37 companies. Also, the PTA has issued 14 licenses to 14 telecom companies for provision of Long Distance and International services in the country.
In addition, 720 licenses have been issued for value added services. The Class Value Added Services (CVAS) Regime was implemented in October 2005. So far 182 CVAS licenses have been awarded. This new regime is more simplified under which more than 15 different individual license categories have been merged into just two license categories i. e. Data type and Voice type. Under the existing value added service, old licenses are also being converted into new CVAL licenses. Telecom Developments in AJ&K and NAs
Keeping in view the rising demand of AJK and NAs for advanced telecom facilities, the PTA has initiated the liberalization of telecom sector in the area after the mutual decision of the Governments of Pakistan and AJ&K to open the telecom sector for private operators for enhancing telecom facilities in the region. In this regard, licensing for cellular mobile took place in June 2006 in Islamabad where Mobilink, Warid, Ufone and Telenor were awarded licenses to operate services in AJ&K and NAs. Similarly, licensing for fixed line and wireless local loop is also underway.
Currently there are over 260,000 cellular mobile connections in the region provided by the cellular companies. Rural Telecom Development For the provision of affordable telecom services in underserved and unserved rural areas, the Government and the PTA have initiated a project wherein a fund has been created namely the Universal Service Fund (USF). The basic objective of the USF is to expand telecom infrastructure and services to unserved and underserved areas by providing subsidy to the telecom operators in these areas.
Contribution to this fund is made by the telecom operators set under the policy as well as by the government and international development agencies. So far an amount of Rs. 4. 82 billion has been collected in this account. The Ministry of IT & Telecom (MoIT&T) has also issued the policy for the utlisation of this fund for rural telecom development. The PTA has developed a strategy for the establishment of Telecentres in rural areas and the project consists of two Phases; in the first phase, PTA has launched a Telecentre project called "Rabta Ghar" all across the country.
Under the scheme, 400 Telecentres will be established in the first phase for which the equipment worth over Rs. 50,000/- will be provided free of cost. The PTA has also arranged free delivery, installation and training of the "Rabta Ghar". In the second Phase of Rural Telephony scheme, Telecentres will be established through micro financing from local Banks. For this scheme all major banks and all micro finance banks were approached to provide micro credit for the establishment of Telecentres.
In addition to the PTA's efforts for promoting rural telephony, the MoIT&T has also issued a Policy Guideline on the "Provision of Pay phone / PCO Service for Broader Coverage, Outreach and Economic Opportunity". The policy has been framed with a view to expanding telecom services in far flung areas by allowing local loop and cellular mobile operators to establish PCOs. Resultantly, Mobilink has launched its PCOs on a large scale.
Payphones Concessions and Facilitation To make payphone business sustainable, the PTA has announced a substantial reduction in the Annual License Fee (ALF) of Card Pay Phone Operators (CPPO) i.e. PTA will now charge only 0. 1 percent ALF from Card Pay Phone Operators on their gross revenue with effect from 1st July 2006 instead of 1. 5 percent. Further, the Authority also rescheduled the Annual License fee outstanding up to June 30, 2005 for all payphone licensees. The ALF shall be payable in 6 equal installments on a bimonthly basis starting from December 16, 2006. The business of Fixed Line CPPO segment which had mushroom growth in the last few years is shrinking due to growth of mobile PCOs. Due to this reason as well as for economy of scale, consolidation of some businesses is expected in future.
In this regard, the operators' requested and PTA assured the operators that it will facilitate Mergers & Acquisitions of Payphone Operators/Companies. Payphone operators will submit specific proposals to PTA for consideration of mergers. Mobile operators have been asked to facilitate Payphone operators by offering discount on Mobile Termination Rates and to consider offering better packages to licensed payphone operators. PTCL was also asked to revise its tariffs for the payphone industry. Electronic Media Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA)
PEMRA was established in March 2002 with a view to open up electronic media to the private sector. The Government's intention behind the establishment of PEMRA was to improve the standards of information, education and entertainment and to enlarge the choice available to the people of Pakistan in the media. Since its inception, PEMRA has made efforts in establishing standards of directness of information. The process of licensing through transparent bidding has earned appreciation from stakeholders as well as the general public.
In a short span of 5 years, it has endeavored to change the broadcast media landscape of Pakistan, working as a catalyst for growth and development and has awarded broadcast licenses in various categories. During the first nine months of the current fiscal year, 350 licenses have been awarded for establishment of Cable TV in different cities of Pakistan. During this period PEMRA has also awarded 3 licences for satellite TV and 2 licences for Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) channel distribution service.
PEMRA has also granted Landing Rights Permissions to 10 Foreign Satellite TV channels. The PEMRA has issued a total of 19 satellite TV licences since 2002, out of which 16 are operational including 4 for educational purposes, 103 FM licences out of which 68 are operational, 6 Multi Channel Multi Point Distribution Service (MMDS) licences with 5 operational and Landing Rights Permission to 23 foreign channels. PEMRA is also in the process of issuing Direct to Home (DTH) and teleport licences.