Byline: Salman Abduhu
LAHORE -- All the cellular users, numbered in several millions, are forced to pay high off-net call costs in Pakistan as state-run telecom regulator is in a fix over reducing the Mobile Termination Rate (MTR) despite the lapse of over a year.
Industry sources said that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority had sought Cellular Mobile Operators' opinion to reduce rates for off-net calls last year since the current rates were considered to be 200 percent higher than the regional countries. According to a PTA report, reduction in rates would 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.
MTR means the price a telecom company charges another telecom company for receiving a call on its network. In other words, landline-to-mobile and mobile-to-mobile interconnection charges, called Mobile Termination Rate, have not been revised since the last MTR review in 2008. Experts said that Pakistan's MTR should be between Rs0.30 to Rs0.40 per minute once purchasing power parity is adjusted.
Industry sources said that alarmingly, Pakistan's MTR is highest in the South East Asia which is Rs0.90 per minute while in India's it is 0.21, Bangladesh's 0.22 and Sri Lanka's 0.32.
The PTA had taken a remarkable decision in September 2017 to consult the telecom companies over proposed reduction in MTR. After thorough consultations, the telecom regulator prepared a key consultative paper which recommended lowering MTR from Rs 0.90 per minute to Rs 0.80 per minute between December 1, 2017 and November 30, 2018, and Rs 0.70 per minute from next month (December).
However, even after the passage of more than a year, these proposals are yet to be materialized. Allegedly, the bureaucratic hurdles...