PTA remains committed to analyzing and addressing the issues related to telecom services for continuous improvement, user satisfaction and engagement.
- Complaint Management System (CMS):
Complaint Management System of PTA launched in 2010 and upgraded in 2020 is used for facilitation of telecom consumers for lodging complaints, processing and redressal of consumer grievances etc. Since Nov 2018 to Sep 2021 a total of 480,865 complaints received and 238,656 resolved.
- Consumer Support Center (CSC):
Consumer Support Center (CSC) launched by PTA in February 2020 is a toll free number (0800-55055) used by consumers to register their complaints related to cellular mobile telephony, internet service providers, fixed/wireless telephony, Device Identification Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS), web content reporting (blasphemy, pornography etc.), UAN, UIN and allocation of short/CVAS registration, amongst others.
- Lost/ Stolen Device System (LSDS):
PTA launched an automated Lost and Stolen Device System (LSDS) for blocking of lost, stolen and snatched mobile phones in April 2021. A total of 9,963 blocking/unblocking requests has been received so far.
- Actions Undertaken Against Fraudulent Communication:
PTA launched an automated module of CMS in February 2021 for blocking of mobile handsets, issuing of warnings to fraudsters and blacklisting of CNICs for repeated violation. A total of 85,472 IMEIs have been blocked, 22,225 warnings issued and 206 CNICs blacklisted.
- Spam, Unsolicited & Obnoxious Calls/ SMSs:
Anti-spam filters have been deployed by CMOs to control spamming. Moreover, outgoing SMS service is blocked automatically in case of exceeding specified threshold (150 SMSs/15 Mins or 250 SMSs/1 hr or 1000 SMSs/24 hrs). Following facilities are available for subscribers:
420 short code for blocking unsolicited communication from any number
9000 short code for reporting MSISDNS for blocking
3627 short code to register their number in Do Not Call Register (DNCR)
- Pakistan Citizen Portal
PTA’s Consumer Protection Division also handles complaints received through PCP. Out of 53,037 complaints, 96.7% of complaints have been addressed. PTA holds a 60% satisfaction rate in this matter.
- ISO 9001:2015 Certification
PTA has also received ISO 9001:2015 quality management system certification for its Consumer Protection Division (CPD) which demonstrates PTA’s commitment to deliver high quality solutions.
- Development of Mobile Application of PTA’s Complaint Management System
(CMS) for Filing Consumer Complaints: Currently, beta version of CMS mobile app has been uploaded on Play Stores for internal testing & is being finalized to launch. The app will be available on both play stores i.e. Android (Google) and iOS (Apple).
Online Content Management / Blocking of Unlawful Content Online
- Mandate of PTA under PECA 2016
To fulfill the mandate assigned to PTA Under Section 37 of Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) 2016, PTA established a dedicated Web Analysis Cell to block/remove unlawful online content in Pakistan including content against integrity, security or defense of Pakistan (anti state), against glory of Islam (blasphemous), hate speech (public order), decency and morality (pornography), contempt of court and defamation/impersonation.
- Procedure for Handling Complaints
PTA has devised a Standard Operating Procedure for lodging complaints, details of which are
a. Complaints by Stakeholder Organizations
An online e-portal is provided to stakeholder organizations to lodge complaints.
Currently there are 38 stakeholders using this portal.
b. Complaints by General Public
Any person can lodge a complaint regarding unlawful online content via email address: firstname.lastname@example.org or through Complaint Management System
c. Proactive Search:
PTA is also proactively searching and blocking links pertaining to blasphemous content, pornography or against security and defense of Pakistan by analyzing and
- URLs Reported & Blocked
So far, a total of 1,114,001 URL blocking complaints on platforms such as: Dailymotion, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Youtube and other miscellaneous platforms have been processed. 1,046,036 URLs have been blocked.
- Issues with Content Regulation
All popular social media platforms are hosted outside Pakistan. Response from social media platforms is usually in accordance with their own community guidelines and not in accordance with the Laws of Pakistan. As per law, PTA has a responsibility to protect citizens from on-line harm in accordance with its local laws and societal norms.
- Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards) Rules, 2020
In October 2020 the Federal Government notified Rules as required under section 37 (2) of PECA 2016, were notified however the same were subsequently challenged in Islamabad High Court. Currently the Rules are under review by a Committee constituted by the Prime Minister.
A committee has been constituted by the Prime Minister of Pakistan to give recommendations on Rules after hearing the concerns of all Stakeholders.
SPECTRUM AUCTION FOR NEXT GENERATION MOBILE SERVICES (NGMS) IN
PAKISTAN – 2021
Pakistan’s telecommunication sector is progressing at a fast pace under the Government of Pakistan policies. The public has been relying on phone and broadband
services more and more over recent years, and the Covid-19 pandemic has brought this reliance into even sharper view. To enhance the rapid take off of mobile broadband services even further in Pakistan, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) initiated a process of auctioning additional spectrum for Next Generation Mobile Services (NGMS) in line with Government of Pakistan Policy considering the market demand. The Government of Pakistan announced the policy for Next Generation Spectrum Auction on 4th August, 2021.
PTA started the process for hiring reputed international consultants to design and manage the auction process on September 30th, 2020. After meeting all the procedural requirements and PPRA Rules, Frontier Economics Pvt Limited ( A UK Based Firm) was selected from among eleven applicants based on the highest technical qualification and lowest financial bid. The contract with the consultants was signed on 13 th Jan 2021. PTA has ensured that entire process from hiring the consultants to auction design and implementation is transparent, efficient and according to the very best international practices. To this end, Frontier Economics and PTA held detailed consultations with all stakeholders during the entire process to ensure obtaining best input and formulating recommendations for Government of Pakistan.
Entire Process was overseen by an Auction Advisory Committee of the Government, having representation of all stake holders beside PTA and FAB.
Spectrum Auction Process
Based on the Policy Directive, received on 4 Aug 2021, PTA published the Information Memorandum on 5 th August 2021, developed together with Frontier Economics. A total of 27.8 MHz was offered as part of the auction: 12.8 MHz in the 1800 MHz band ( Desirable by all Operators) and 15 MHz in 2100 MHz band ( In case any Operator do not get any Spectrum in 1800 MHz, he can obtain in 2100 MHz).
Spectrum Auction Design
1800 MHz Band:
Band comprises a total of 75 MHz Spectrum, out of which 55.6 MHz was already awarded to the Operators, whereas 6.6 MHz is currently subjudice and cannot be placed in Auction. Remaining 12.8 MHz, which was considered for Auction was fragmented and not concentrated at one place. Thus generic Blocks were made, to create appetite for Operators, so that every Operator can actively participate in the Auction. Operators agreed with PTA, that irrespective of the Auction result or participation by any Operator, PTA will allocate the won spectrum adjacent to Current holding by any Operator, and other operators will shift up or down in the band if required without any compensation.
PTA has ensured a transparent and fair process. It has hired a reputed international consultancy firm: Frontier Economics to assist PTA in the entire auction process and the auction mechanism was designed based on best international practices and in accordance with the PPRA rules and regulations.
DIRBS and Local Manufacturing
- Device Identification Registration & Blocking System (DIRBS)
PTA developed the world’s first open sourced Device Identification Registration & Blocking System (DIRBS) with the aim to curtail substandard/counterfeit mobile phone usage, discourage mobile phone theft and protect consumer interest. It is designed to address:
Blocking of prohibited devices in the market while helping legitimate device importers
Counterfeit devices (i.e. replicas of original devices)
Illegally imported devices (import tax not paid)
Devices with invalid or duplicate IMEIs, stolen/lost devices
- Technical Details of DIRBS
It is a centralized system which takes input from GSMA, Consumers, CMOs and importers/ original equipment manufacturers (OEM) and generate following 3 lists:
White list: IMEIs of devices which are PTA type approved and legally imported.
Black list: IMEIs of stolen/reported lost category and will not be allowed services.
Exception list: IMEIs which do not belong to either white or black list, and for which
wireless communication is allowed.
- Impact of DIRBS on Commercial Import:
Since the implementation of DIRBS, import of mobile devices via legal channels increased by 62% with revenue of PKR 46.27 Billion. In 2020, 38.14 million devices were imported with revenue of PKR 54 Billon and in 2021, so far 20.91 million devices have been imported through legal channels.
- Other Impact of DIRBS
PTA has blocked 175 thousand device IMEIs reported as stolen through DIRBS. The System has also identified and blocked 26.03 Million fake/replica mobile devices from use on local networks. Moreover, 880,780 cloned/duplicated IMEIs against 5.28 Million MSISDN were identified and blocked. Connectivity of smartphones on local network has been increased from 35% to 51% as of July 2021 after implementation of DIRBS.
- Local Mobile Device Manufacturing
Government of Pakistan introduced Mobile Manufacturing Policy in June 2020 to encourage local manufacturing. Subsequently PTA issued Mobile Device Manufacturing (MDM) Regulations in 2021, a major milestone in the journey towards “Digital Pakistan”. As of July 2021, PTA has issued MDM authorization to 26 companies, including both foreign and local companies with brands like Samsung, Vivo, Oppo, Nokia, Alcatel, Techno, Infinix etc.
Within 7 months of MDM authorization issuance, 12.48 million mobile devices have been manufactured locally, which includes over 5 Million 4G smart phones. One company has also exported 5000 “Made in Pakistan” smartphones to UAE. Establishment of 26 manufacturing plants has brought in an investment of over US$ 126 Million. Over 10,000 jobs have been created in a short span of 7 months. The local manufacturing plants are going to be instrumental for creating further job opportunities, enabling affordability for Pakistani users and export of devices to global markets.