Telecom Sector HWarned TGovernment
The telecom sector has warned the government that protracted power outages, coupled with high fuel prices and strict restrictions on battery imports, could result in connectivity failures.
Leading cellular mobile operators (CMOS) Jazz, Telenor, PTCL, and Ufone wrote to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority saying that “despite having backup power available in the form of inverters and batteries, cellular operators are finding it impossible to cope with the quantum of these power outages that are beyond our dimensional backup capacity.”
Purpose Of The Letter Was To Alert The Telecom Regulator
The purpose of the letter was to alert the telecom regulator to “some critical economy-wide factors, which are directly preventing and are expected to further severely restrict the operators’ ability to meet the existing [quality of service] obligations… [key performance indicators] as well as our network rollout obligations under the new licence conditions.”
They bemoaned the fact that the provision of generator backup for their base transceiver station (BTS) sites was coming under additional pressure due to the fast-rising cost of fuel.
Government’s Goal Of Rationalising Fuel Consumption
Additionally, they said that the government’s goal of rationalising fuel consumption in these trying times was being violated by the additional fuel consumption required for backup and that the circumstances had made it a “huge problem” for the operators to maintain network uptime.
The letter further emphasised that since the State Bank of Pakistan placed a 100% cash margin ban on the import of network/backup equipment, including batteries, the situation had gotten worse.
In addition to “dramatically impeding” the addition of greater backup capacity to counter these prolonged power outages, the situation had “severely impacted” the CMOs’ ability to roll out new sites to meet the licencing quality of service standards, the letter said.
Deteriorating Health Of The Capital-Intensive Telecom Sector
The telecom companies noted that the country’s “already deteriorating health of the capital-intensive telecom sector” had been further impacted by the recent fiscal and political developments and asked the PTA to support the industry in order to continue providing vital telecom services to the general public.
The operators also warned the PTA that they would be “forced to report force majeure scenario under unusual circumstances” if the power outages and other problems were not resolved.