On Tuesday, the Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat bemoaned the subpar quality of service offered to users of mobile networks, Wi-Fi, and cable TV. According to Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan, there is no cellular or 4G connectivity available in popular tourist destinations throughout the nation, from Swat to Islamabad.
Tuesday at Parliament House, Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmad presided over a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat.
Brigadier (ret.) Mohammed Tahir Ahmed Khan, Executive Director (ED) of the Frequency Allocation Board (FAB), gave the committee a thorough explanation of the FAB’s operations and results.
The committee chairman voiced grave worry about the level of customer service being offered. He said that cable signals and phone conversations were distorted and interrupted.
The executive director of FAB stated that interfaces happen as a result of duct phones, boosters, and unauthorised spectrum use.
While keeping an eye on the interferences, the chairman asked about the protection of the ordinary users’ privacy. The ED stated that only the mandate of the investigative authorities, the service provider, and the regulator allowed FAB access to invade the privacy of the average person.
The jammers that have been put in both public and private locations across Pakistan have also attracted the committee’s attention as a significant health risk.
Senator Rukhsana Zuberi said, “Jammers emit electromagnetic rays which are harmful to health.” In addition, the panel chairman also pointed out that jammers emitting rays are contributing severely to air pollution apart from causing disruption in cellular mobile networks and their quality of service, resultantly increasing the dissatisfied customers and complaints.
Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmad emphasised that it is unlawful to employ jammers without authorization. Before installing such devices, he added, people or organisations must get no objection certificates (NOCs) in order to protect the genuine licensee’s use of the spectrum and provide better service.
The FAB ED agreed with the committee’s assessment and stated that recently, a jammer built at the PM House, which was discovered by the FAB and appropriately addressed, was interfering with aircraft frequencies.
The committee requested a report on the number of jammers placed throughout the cities and the legal basis for each installation.
According to Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan, popular tourist destinations around the nation, from Swat to Islamabad, lack mobile and 4G connections.
The committee bemoaned this severe lack of communication and instructed everyone to pay attention and take appropriate action.
The FAB officials informed the committee that FAB has been aggressively observing the radio frequencies for spectrum in order to discover, identify, and then report infractions by licensees and non-licensees.
Along the border regions, FAB also conducts cross-border studies of FM services and cellular mobile operators (CMOs). During the fiscal year (FY) 2021–2022, a total of 4051x monitoring instances were reported to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA).
The ministry of foreign affairs submitted it to the Indian government, who then notified the committee, that there are 161 areas for cross-border spillover surveys along Pakistan-India borders in Punjab and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) (MoFA).
The committee was informed that Ufone paid $279 million for 9 MHz of spectrum in the 1800 MHz band at the radio frequency spectrum auction for the Next Generation Mobile Services (NGMS) in the AJK and Gilgit Baltistan (GB). In this AJK & GB auction, Ufone, Telenor, and CMPak purchased new spectrum for $30.32 million.
Additionally, it was disclosed that PTA renewed the licences of Mobilink Jazz and Telenor in accordance with federal regulation.