PTCL USES ITS MUSCLE TO KILL BROADBAND COMPETITION
Lahore/Pakistan: The dominant fixed line telecom operator, Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd. (PTCL) is denying the rights of private ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to install broadband DSL connections to their customers using PTCL’s copper line network. This was stated by ISP Association of Pakistan (ISPAK) in a press statement. ISPAK stated that for last five days, PTCL has not been connecting ISP customers’ DSL connections on the pretext that it was making the provisioning system automated. This move has left hundreds of new customers without a broadband connection across the country for last many days. ISPAK stated that under the Agreement and Standard Operating Procedure, PTCL has to connect a new connection within 48 hours but PTCL has been denying the rights of ISPs. Insiders tell that since PTCL is operating its own retail broadband DSL services and wants to attract the customers to its own network, it is therefore creating delays in connections of its competitor ISPs. ISPs and PTCL have a history of bitter relations with formers accusing the only fixed line operator to adopt strong arm tactics, anti-competitive behavior, and predatory pricings. ISPs of the country are dependent on PTCL for copper line access, Internet bandwidth, and leased lines and PTCL’s competition with them in retail market makes their life difficult as PTCL’s wholesale prices to ISPs become higher than its retail prices. “We’ve approached PTA for immediate intervention but PTA’s response was bureaucratic” said Wahaj us Siraj, Spokesman of ISPAK. “PTA said that it was investigating the matter whereas the matter was very clear, required no investigation and a clear directive from PTA should have gone to PTCL keeping in view the gravity of situation but nothing happened so far” said Wahaj. ISPAK stated that it seems that regulator has subjugated itself to the large operator and a policy of might is right was adopted by PTA for the telecom sector. ISPAK stated that it was approaching the Competition Commission of Pakistan to stop the anti-competitive practices of PTCL and impose penalties for violating the Competition Ordinance, 2009. According to PTA reports, there are around 400,000 broadband connections out of which 300,000 are on copper DSL whereas rest are on wireless, mainly WiMAX.