No corrective steps whatsoever they might be can
produce results, even the world class marketing policy can not bring
Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) at par with the other
phone companies until and unless the ground and underground network was
improved and upgraded.
The dilapidated network of the PTCL not only draining
out the hard earned huge revenue of one of the most important government
run institutions but also causing miseries to subscribers.
Other phone companies operating in the country are
generally accused of giving connections in excess and some of them have
penalized also but PTCL is not extending its available telephone
facilities in the many parts of the country. Although PTCL's facts and
figures are doubtful but the annual report indicates about the number of
pending demand for new connections which are estimated over 400,000 in
April this year. The increasing demand could be assessed from the
estimated figures i.e. 304,395 up to March 2004. However the actual
situation was far from what it has been mentioned in the PTCL's report.
Details of installed capacity and operative connections are another
example of its inefficiency; fixed lines capacity was 4.94 million while
number of subscribers were 3.98 million as per annual report. Senior
officials are master in giving justifications of PTCL's poor services
and hiding facts and figures. Apart from PTCL's subscribers miseries,
the companies own facts and figures are enough of its poor performance.
PTCL's telephone density per 100 population was 2.9 till the month of
PTCL's New Prepaid Phone Service "Aasan (easy)
prepaid Phone Service" launched early this month got poor response
just because of its poor and dilapidated network and miserable services.
Although new service provides many attractive features to subscribers.
Only an application form with the photocopy of computerized National
Identity Card is required to have an immediate phone at the required
premises. In the first phase 300,00 connections in 10 cities have been
offered. The cities include; Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Karachi, Lahore,
Peshawar, Quetta, Hyderabad, Faisalabad, Multan and Sialkot. The new
scheme gives a facility to its subscriber to load a prepayment telephone
card against their telephone number thereby generating an account in
platform and any call made from that telephone number will be charged to
this account. The subscribers are also offered PTCL's same features and
normal PTCL call tall tariff.
PTCL's Fault Management System always remained highly
objectionable and mysterious that is managed on the basis of 45 years
old. More than a dozen very good proposals have been scrapped
mysteriously. The gravity of the situation can be imagined that a
lineman who leaves the phone exchange with detail of job that he has to
do is out of touch with the PTCL, as he has not been given any tool of
immediate connection. More than 2,000 linemen are working with PTCL with
their own cellular phones. The complainant never has any valid proof
that he had lodged complaint with PTCL. Even large number of complaints
registered with so-called computerized fault record system are cleared
from the computers without rectification. Corruption at lower and middle
level is bringing miseries to the subscribers in the thickly populated
parts of the country like Karachi. In many areas subscribers have to go
to visit Telephone Exchange for misuse.
The PTCL network offers open chances for misuse of
the facility especially in the urban centers of the country including
Karachi. High-rise buildings and apartments, and commercial complexes
stand on top where open wires are misused through Kunda system. The
genuine subscribers have to go through long process to prove that their
phone line had been misused. Besides the abuse of the open lines, they
are susceptible to develop faults.
Apart from misuse, the PTCL's network is venerable to
any saboteur act. It may be recalled that during the days when Karachi
experienced the worst kind of law and order situation in the past, a
large number of main cables were cut and phone cabinets were burnt by
miscreants. Though the PTCL authorities persistently raised hue and cry
against the police and held the law enforcing agencies responsible for
the protection of its network, yet it did not bother to upgrade the
system to combat the challenges of the situation. Even today, the PTCL
network facing threats from many pressure groups who damage the cables
in suburban areas to blackmail the authorities.
Issuance of conditional demand notes is another
chapter, PTCL has collected huge amount from thousands of applicants
through conditional demand notes where PTCL did not extend its network.
The applicants have not been given any timeframe for
the new connections. A senior PTCL officer said that root cause of all
these problems originates from its headquarters in Islamabad which seems
to have focused its attention on privatization plan of the corporation
while all other issues seems to have been shelved for the time being.