Petitions against Pakistan’s APC dismissed, as PTA suspends five fixed line licences

4 Jul 2011

The Islamabad High Court has reportedly dismissed petitions and appeals lodged by a number of Pakistan’s domestic and international long-distance (DLD and ILD) operators related to the issue of payments under the Access Promotion Contribution (APC) scheme for the country’s Universal Service Fund. According to the Pakistan Tribune, with the case against the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and the government now concluded, the regulator has said that any outstanding payments are now due, and it has issued orders for the recovery of these sums. Telcos had challenged the constitutionality and legality of the APC regime, as well as enforcement orders previously issued by the PTA, arguing that it had not been implemented with the correct legal authority.

Meanwhile, the PTA has also confirmed that it had suspended the licences of fixed line operators WorldCall, Multinet, Red Tone, Wisecom and 4B Gentle with immediate effect, despite such suspensions having earlier been stayed by the courts. Unsurprisingly perhaps the aforementioned telcos have criticised the move, claiming that it is illegal and unconstitutional, and arguing that it is in direct disregard of the stay orders issued by the Sindh High Court and the Lahore High Court restraining the regulator from taking any action against certain licensees. According to the operators the order made by the Sindh High Court on 1 July suspended enforcement of the PTA’s proposed licence suspension with immediate effect.