MEDIA APPRISED OF PACE OF WORK ON MOBILINK'S BAND MIGRATION

Jan 10 - 16, 2005

The leading cellular company in Pakistan has assured its subscribers of early addressal to connectivity problems arising out of its partial band migration from 900 MHz to 1800 MHz. All technical aspects of the problem are being rapidly worked upon to ensure prompt and quick connectivity to its subscribers before the close of this month.

It was revealed during a visit by media personnel belonging to various national dailies to one of Mobilink's Regional Switching Facility last Monday. The journalists were given a detailed briefing about various technical activities being carried out by engineers working on the site. The media personnel went round the site and asked questions about the nature and causes of degradation in services, time span required for up-gradation of network and the impact of improved network on subscribers' base and coverage area etc.

Mobilink's customers have been experiencing problems in connectivity since it started work on upgrading and overlaying its network under the provision of the new telecom policy. PTA has asked Mobilink to vacate part of its frequency in the 900MHz band and in lieu was given additional bandwidth in the 1800 MHz band. This work of overlaying and optimizing the network is expected to be completed by the end of January 2005. Band vacation was carried out to accommodate two new cellular companies entering the Pakistani market some time later.

Mr. Asim Ali, National Manager for RF Planning informed the journalists that degradation in services were expected when the new system was being installed as it required both hardware and software changes. "This is a temporary phase and we are working diligently round the clock to minimize the inconvenience", he added. "Our engineering department is well staffed with both national and international experts to optimize the network and bring it to the desired quality levels".

With a customer base of 5 million, Mobilink is the country's largest cellular company providing services with state-of-the-art technology and infrastructure in more than 320 cities with over 1800 cell sites across the country. Its investment in Pakistan is expected to inflate to $1 billion in 2005.

Responding to another question, Mr. Asim said Mobilink is continuously investing in expansion of the systems and maintains a capacity buffer of 25%, "Our expansion plans are triggered once subscriber traffic reaches 75% of the planned network. We at all times want to maintain a capacity buffer of 25%."

About a question on increase in coverage area through enhanced system, he disclosed that the upgraded network would help them expand their services to more cities by the end of the year.

Mr. Asim said that Mobilink is using the latest cutting edge equipment of leading global vendors such as Siemens, Alcatel and Motorola. "Additionally, these companies are also assisting us in the ongoing band migration and optimization process with their technical support", he said. He reiterated that the problem is only temporary and will be soon corrected. "I assure you that the problem will be resolved and that all our customers will enjoy the desired uninterrupted quality of service", he added.