People faced problems after the government suspended mobile phone service in 49 cities including Rawalpindi and Islamabad here on Saturday. The government suspended service of all cellular companies from early morning at 6 p.m. to avoid security threats. The alternative communication services such as wireless, landline services and internet were also suspended in some areas of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, which created worst situation for the public.
According to Interior Minister Rehman Malik, mobile service would remain off on Sunday as well. People belonging to all walks of life faced difficulties after the mobile service closed down in major cities including Rawalpindi and Islamabad on Saturday. Officials of different telecommunication service providers on the condition of anonymity told ‘The News’ that the sector faced losses because of the closure of service. They said that services were suspended in 49 major cities in Punjab and Sindh including Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
The alternative communication services such as wireless, landline services and internet were used by the people in big cities. If the people use alternative services then terrorists could also use those, hence, there is no logic to shut down services and force operators to face losses, officials said.
“It is useless to suspend services for two days in the name of security measures because the government can reduce the risk of terrorist attacks through different measures. The telecommunication service providers did not only incur losses on the temporary shut down of services but they had to pay extra cost through deployment of their officials on the network to switch on and off the services as per directives of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA),” they added.
The officials said that there are thousands of base transceiver stations (BTS) towers in the selected areas where services were ordered to remain suspended. Companies have to deploy extra workers for complying with emergency orders of the government. They said that our company has centralized system to connect master towers of different regions with BTS to operational headquarter. The switching off and on situations need to be completed with accuracy, rapidly and technically, which takes normally 200 to 300 hours of labour additionally of officials of high calibre related to technical, managerial and vigilance skills.
The extra staff members were deputed on extra allowances that ensured suspension and restoration of services to millions of customers through hundreds of cell sites. Besides few companies having operating system of network switching system (NSS) regularly keep vigilance to put services off and on through technical and high-tech programming, which is in fact a hectic work for operators in the given timeline, they said.
Our company had to bear expenses of extra technical work, which is included in the losses of telecommunication service provider, the officials claimed. “Government should take alternative measures to tighten the security and avert untoward incidents instead of pushing foreign companies to face losses. It seems that the government has chosen a single option of shutting down telecommunication services in every sensitive situation, and services suspension will be made in future mainly in the name of security,” the officials of different cellular companies demanded. Talking to ‘The News’ people said that the government has completely failed to provide protection to a common man and creating different kinds of difficulties for them.
Rana Muhammad Asif, a local, said that it is failure on part of the government who deprived the people of their basic right of communication. Riaz Hussain Butt, a shopkeeper, said, “Government could have tackled it in much better way. How we could live without contacts with our near and dear,’ he said. He also expressed his anger over the decision saying if some incident happens then how they will call any body for help.
Industry analysts fear that the government may make it a routine exercise in future for crushing any anti-government movement. In that case, the highest revenue-earning sector of the economy will become puppet in the hands of the government and intelligence agencies.