Pakistan telecommunication authority issued a directive for all cellular networks in Pakistan to stop providing mobile number portability service with immediate effect. This directive is issued on the instructions of interior ministry.
In a notification issued by PTA on Wednesday, it was stated that MNP services on all networks have be barred. The ban was imposed for security reasons, the source said while referring to media reports that say MNP makes it difficult to trace the whereabouts of terrorists.
The MNP service was initiated in March 2007 by the government itself to benefit consumers willing to switch to a better package while keeping the same mobile number
Among all other directives, one of the notifications also required the telecos to deliver new SIMs at the CNIC address of customers. This will create a problem for retailers. Franchises and retailers also sell scratch cards and easy loads, but they only earn 3% on each card sold or each mobile load, he said. If SIMs are not allowed to be sold through franchises and retailers, their monthly profits will come down by 50%, which will go up to 70% over time due to decrease in commission.
Plus Mailing SIMs to the CNIC address is not practical as many people live in a different place and have different address on their CNICs, the source said. Those under 18 years of age neither have a driving license nor a CNIC, the main requirements for getting a new SIM. The source also questioned how the rural sector would be catered to under these directives. The PTA directives may not send positive signals to the investors at a time when 3G license is in the pipeline, the source said, such a situation will make telecom investors reluctant.