News Source: Express Tribune
Originally published Date: September 30, 2017
KARACHI: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has sought Cellular Mobile Operators’ (CMOs) opinion on strategies to reduce rates for off-net calls since the current rates are considered by experts to be 111% to 198% higher than what they should be.
Reduction in rates will not only help operators offer better off-net call rates but also help decrease grey traffic since demand for illegal means of calling will reduce, according to a PTA report.
Landline-to-mobile and mobile-to-mobile interconnection charges, called Mobile Termination Rate (MTR) in PTA’s technical jargon, have not been revised since the last MTR review in 2008 which has caused the higher off-net call rates, the report says.
Pakistan’s MTR should be between Rs0.30 to Rs0.43 per minute once purchasing power parity (PPP) is adjusted. The current MTR of Rs0.90 per minute is therefore 111% to 198% higher than the calculated MTR benchmark, says the Consultation on Review of Mobile Termination Rate issued by PTA.
As an interim measure, PTA offered a MTR of Rs0.80 per minute from December 1, 2017 to 30th November 2018 and Rs0.70 per minute from 1st December 2018 onwards.
The PTA will now undertake a cost-based study to review and determine termination rates as per Telecommunication Policy 2015.
Compared to other regional countries, Pakistan’s MTR is approximately 0.85 cents higher than India’s (0.21), Bangladesh (0.22) and Sri Lanka (0.32). Thailand, Malaysia and UK, however, have termination rates similar to Pakistan’s.
Talal Raza is a Program Manager at Media Matters for Democracy. He has worked with renowned media organizations and NGOs including Geo News, The Nation, United States Institute of Peace and Privacy International.