The long-standing court case between PTCL and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has finally been decided by the Islamabad High Court in favor of PTA.. In this decision, Islamabad High Court has dismissed PTCL appeal regarding dispute concerning origination charges on “Non prepaid calling card service and upheld PTA’s decision of 21st August 2006.
It is clarified that Long Distance and International (LDI) operators are dependent on PTCL’s network for connectivity and therefore, are required to pay origination charges to PTCL for providing prepaid calling card services. The dispute between PTCL and LDI operators arose when PTCL started charging LDI operators for unsuccessful calls as well, thus making businesses of LDIs unviable. PTCL took the view that since the calls have been responded by Interactive Voice Response (IVR) using PTCL’s resources, therefore the duration used for IVR should be considered as a successful call. LDI operators were of the view that the terms and conditions given in Reference Interconnection Offer (RIO) of PTCL do not address the said issue in such manner and they should not be charged for that service for which they cannot charge their subscribers. Moreover, they also argued that PTCL was not charging pre-call connection duration used for IVR from its O&M partners, therefore, it is a clear discrimination.
PTA, being the telecom regulator, took up the issue with LDI operators and PTCL. In this regard, detailed consultations, meetings and deliberations were held with the industry. International references were also studied by PTA and detailed calculations were made in order to assess and verify claim of both parties. Finally PTA gave determination on 21st August, 2006 that PTCL shall charge origination charges from LDI operators for both ‘Revenue Time’ and ‘Non-Revenue Time’ on calling card traffic after giving 25% discount being a win-win situation for all parties. However, the Determination was challenged by PTCL in the court of law.
The Honorable Islamabad High Court after hearing detailed arguments from PTA and PTCL has now dismissed PTCL’s appeal and upheld PTA’s Determination by stating that the Determination made by PTA fully reflects all material aspects of the issue, not considered but recorded as well, and the reasoning advanced by PTA is not only cogent but plausible.
This landmark decision by the honorable court will help to build further confidence of industry and general public regarding the fair and transparent decision making process of PTA. This will also help to revive the business of prepaid calling card which declined during the past few years owning to various factors including this dispute between PTCL and LDI operators. As a result of this decision, the LDI operators will be able to settle their long outstanding dues as well as resume prepaid calling card service for the benefit of general public.