Sunday, November 18, 2012

The MNP Ban Might Be Reviewed by PTA

Sunday, November 18, 2012
As part of counter-terrorism measures, the ban on mobile number portability (MNP) ordered by the ministry of interior has discouraged cellphone users who feel deprived of their right to switch over to a network of their choice while keeping the same number.

Under the MNP policy announced by the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority, cellphone users could switch to different networks while retaining their numbers. Currently 118m people are using the Global System for Mobile communication across the country.

The PTA decided to ban the MNP on Nov 9 at a meeting chaired by the interior minister since the facility was reportedly creating problems to track down anti-state elements.

Some sources said the ban might be reviewed by the PTA after Muharram, reported Dawn today.

MNP for mobile users and their reviews

Mobile phone users are of the view that how can government snatch the right of 118 million customers to have a network of their own choice since they pay for its services.

The telecom operators should take up the issue with the authorities jointly, otherwise they will be the ultimate losers since they will lose business and the telecom industry will suffer because of continuing directives of the ministry.

MNP for operators and their reviews

Some mobile phone operators have raised concerns over the ban on MNP because it will hurt the companies having limited users on their networks
The business head of a mobile phone company claimed that big firms having a major share of customers and revenue were against the MNP.

The new entrants in the telecom market or small companies are always willing to offer good call rates and packages to new customers wishing to benefit from the MNP. Such measures would discourage investment by the telecom operators.

Why MNP is blocked in Pakistan

As per a counter-terrorism official, they keep people under observation and track them down through their cellphones but now terrorists or other people under observation port out their numbers from one network to another.

Once a user switches to a new company because of MNP the new operator does not impose observation, call recording and message tracking on the number until it is approached by the security authorities.

Solution to use MNP and still keep security measures

As per a network engineer of a cellular company said: Once we put a number under observation on the request of ‘sensitive institutions’ we regularly share their data with them. However, once a customer uses MNP, issues often arise. But the agencies are supposed to follow the number not the operator.

I think the security operators, the cellular network companies and the regulator should sit down and resolve the issue as cellphone use is always linked with terrorism and ordinary costumers have to suffer, a telecom analyst, said.

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