PTA temporarily suspends PTCL WiLL licences

8 Jan 2014

Sector regulator the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) yesterday suspended the wireless in the local loop (WiLL) licences of fixed line incumbent Pakistan Telecommunications Company Ltd (PTCL) in five areas, only to reverse the decision later that day. In September 2011 the PTA had notified PTCL that it was infringing the terms of its licence by using additional spectrum in the Multan, Rawalpindi, Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore areas, and issued the operator with a fine of PKR82.496 million (USD775,440). PTCL challenged the penalty in the Islamabad High Court but in December 2013 the court upheld the regulator’s decision, and later that month the PTA repeated its instruction to vacate the spectrum and pay the fine. With PTCL still using the extra spectrum, the PTA suspended the operator’s licences in the five areas in question on 7 January. Further, the regulator ordered all mobile, long distance international (LDI) and fixed line licensees to cease all ‘telecommunication facilities extended to PTCL for the provision of [WiLL] services.’

However, ProPakistani cites a high level PTA official as saying that PTCL paid the fine just a few hours after the licence suspension, and that the watchdog had reversed its decision. The official also noted that the penalty was calculated based on illegal spectrum use up to the original 2011 notice, and that the value of the fine may be revised. The regulator has also requested the Frequency Allocation Board (FAB) to monitor PTCL’s spectrum usage, to ensure that the operator has vacated the frequencies it had been using illegally.