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Published on April 23rd, 2008 | by Babar Bhatti


Calls To Pakistan Made Expensive

This is bad news for Pakistanis abroad: they will pay considerably more for calling Pakistan starting May 1. See the news item from Dawn. It seems to me that we are regressing in terms of policy making. Who benefits from this? PTA and long distance operators. What about consumers? Well, a lot of consumers and industry experts are upset and are taking various actions such as expressing their concerns through various offline and online channels (see this petition). One thing is certain: the grey telephony market will flourish because of this. Expect more noise around this in the coming days. I am not looking forward to my next bill for international calls!

Salman Ansari (former CEO of Paktel) has posted interesting predictions at various online forums. Here’s an excerpt:

Quality of calls of inbound calls specially from the US will become terrible (cellular terminations) as most inbound terminations will come in via low cost grey market – biggest culprits will be the biggest carriers (AT&T, Bell Canada, etc).

Wasim Baig summarized his views about this change at TGP:

1. LDIs get a higher rate, higher margin
2. APC contribution increases
3. Origination increases
4. Balance of trade in PK’s favor

1. Grey market increases
2. LDI may increase origination rates as well
3. Yet more regulation! PTA stays relevant to pricing ..
4. Market pricing takes a back seat

Here’s more from Dawn article.

“The PTA, in fact, has addressed the demand of local operators, who have been pleading for increase in such rates, as it would not affect the local consumers of the facility,” said the source. “But it would naturally increase the cost of calling to Pakistan from outside”.

The experts raised serious concerns over the telecom watchdog’s decision, who termed it contradictory to the measures it had earlier taken to curb the illegal voice trafficking. The PTA in 2006 cut ASR by 38.61% in an effort to reduce financial incentives in ‘grey telephony’.

“If the ASR is increased it will cause illegal international call rerouting by LDI operators and some illegal operators may also increase rates seeing the opportunity,” said Ansar-ul-Haq, a telecom consultant.
“The increase in ASR will also increase the tele-density gap and the private operators would not launch telecom services in comparatively lower profit-earning rural areas, he added.”

Grey telephony is a term referred to the illegal telecom traffic in which calls from foreign countries are brought in the country as local calls, while using illegal means. This is an offence under Telecom Reorganisation Act, 1996. The sources privy to the PTA, however, argued the increase in ASR rate was unlikely to damage the revenue, as the authority had already deployed technical solutions to check grey traffic brought into the country through illegal means. “The main objectives of the technical solution include automated detection of grey traffic for its consequent elimination, and revenue assurance for LDI operators,” said the source.“After successful deployment, the solution would be able to filter IP traffic of the country for detection of illegal VoIP on data circuits for consequent legal action against the culprits.” In such situation, he said, the PTA was confident that a large volume of illegal voice traffic always remained under check of the authority and could not damage the legal telecom’s business.

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49 Responses to Calls To Pakistan Made Expensive

  1. Pingback: Dilemma of an Overseas Pakistani « mursalan

  2. laloo says:

    Calls from pakistan mobile are less than 2p a minute. The idea is to let the pakistan phone be topped up the you give them a missed call once or twice by dissconnecting after one bell or may be 2 to signal them to call you. Alternatively there may be some companies offering unlimited land line calls for abot 20 british pounds or 30 US dollars..per month. You have just to find one. After much effort I have found one on youtube which offers unlimited calls to pakistan for 50p a day. You pay them 50 pounds. They installa worldcall phone in your house in Paksitan and then you keep paying 15pounds a month well before expiry date and keep talking if you do not, they will quickly disconnect you and ask for 10 pounds extra for reconnection.

  3. ALI says:

    PTA is a group of extreme corrupt peoples who are just looting our assests and i am relly ashamed to say that they are higly educated ,civilized culprits and robbers who really ruined our telecom industry………………

  4. Khurrum says:

    Ex-pat Pakistanis living abroad provide between 10-20% of Pakistan’s economy simply by sending money home and supporting relatives. This is a fact which numerous Governments exploit again and again.

    Faizan’s point is not valid, since the money generated by the PTA is very unlikely to be re-invested in the private telecom market. At best a proportion will be invested in public network (government infrastructure) and most creamed by corrupt official.

    Hence, again as commented by the majority, this is an increase in tax for Pakistanis abroad. At some point, I am sorry to say the 3rd or 4th generation ex-Pats are going to cut links with Pakistan.

    How with the government then fund their corruption?

  5. sajjad says:

    SALLAM TOO ALL ITS VERY BAD NEWS …………..its very bad. calls rates for banldesh and india are going down and going up pakistan.people are unable to get atta in pakistan and now people in abroad are unable to make calls. what the hell is this every thing is going wrong.

  6. javed says:

    nice effort Faizan to justify their step but never mind we dont expect anything good from our politicians and system. we used to pay 1p perminutes a couple of years ago to call pakistan but now its 9p per minute that sucks. its too much.

  7. Faizan says:

    Increase in termination rates was necessary for Pakistan. As telecom companies including LDI operators cannot offer the same rates as in US and other developed counties where running cost is not that high. I know people living outside Pakistan are facing dificulty calling to thr lovedones but try to put ur steps in Pakistani marcket. Utilities for example electricity problem in Pakistan compared to US .. 6 to 8 hrs telecom companies run their generators on fuel which u already know are on the highest scale these days plus usual electricity charges are, i dont know may be 10 times higher than US. this is one example many other facts are involve in Pakistan to run a teleocom business.

    Terrorist troubles , policial ralies and strikes .. who is going to bare these loses ??? This is Pakistan not US for godsake..

    PTA has taken good step and this is the only way to cover the telecom expenses in Pakistan.

    please before commenting and comparing with other countries try to observe all the situations.

  8. doctor says:

    Initially I used then they excluded Pakistan from their Free list then I moved to they also had free calls to karachi landline and cheap call rates to pakistan after few days they also excluded Pakistan from offer after that I moved to they offered 38cents per untimed call to pakistan and yesterday they also excluded our lovely country.
    Now I am using $25 monthly and 100 calls free.
    how is it?
    now im waiting when they are excluding Pakistan.

    BrainTel is also good option for cheap calls to Pakistan

  9. Ali says:

    new govt, old policies

    we are heading to stone age, while our neighbors looking ahead

    soon they will put their ill founded gains in swiss banks

    i didn’t expect anything better

    i wonder what you would do if you were in parliament, mr 10 percent

    you have no right to make decisions, mr 10 percent

    we have no elected you

    so stop interferring and influencing, mr 10 percent aka mr liar

    you are a disgrace

    thank you all

  10. Faraz says:

    All I can say….our country has got WORLD’s WORST EVER PLANNERS in every field….!!

    God Bless Pakistan..!!

  11. Usman says:

    Does someone smell something fishy, Salman Taseer does that ring a Bell… New governor of Punjab Owns WORLDCALL …. A PPP stalwart…..

    He benefits the most…….

  12. Tpad says:

    We are getting some more Pakistan Numbers next week, its now cheaper to calll FROM rather than TO pakistan.

    You cant beat local rate prices at

  13. Hammad says:

    Still the cheapest way of communication with Pakistan ,, is

    you give them a little call and ask them to call you back, they just dial a local number of karachi, islamabad or quetta. and connects to you via your VOIP Sip device or your computer

    so way cheaper

  14. amjad ismaeel says:

    its very bad. calls rates for banldesh and india are going down and going up pakistan.people are unable to get atta in pakistan and now people in abroad are unable to make calls. what the hell is this every thing is going wrong.

  15. saleem says:

    PTCL is looting us.

    i can not call my family so frequent, i will miss them

    i condemn this,

    at present the most cheepest voip is
    and for land lines

    and u may check

    good luck if any one has some other cheep do write

  16. Saleem says:

    Another step by Government of Pakistan to get money for corrupt politicians bank accounts.

  17. Saleem says:

    please use lowratevoip dot com for calling Pakistan. The cheapest among all. I hope you will enjoy its rates.

  18. Nawaz-ul-haq says:

    Nothing else I would expect from Mr. Ten percent (aka zardari, teri chut maari)

  19. Nawaz-ul-haq says:

    Its a shame…Ridiculous policies… We already knew what democracy will provide us. Here comes the fruit of democracy.
    Telecom rates were the single parameter providing at least some sense of progress in Pakistan. Its like dragging Pakistan back to stone age (I shall definitely wait and see if this so called democratic government can ever bring a single good to Pakistan). Shame shame shame…
    These bastard politicians will simply kill all progress in Pakistan by sqeezing throat of economy just in that foolish manner.

  20. Rizwan says:

    Idiots don’t understand the BASIC ECONOMICS that if the prices increased sharply, the Consumption falls sharply. These donkies, buffalos and ILLITERATE CEOs and Our STUPID Administration and governing bodies will never be sincere with our pakistani people. May Almighty higher power destroy these power and money hungry monsters.

  21. Khan says:

    India is providing better rates day by day, which is great at least that way they can be close to their love one’s, now even you can get unlimited calling plan to call India, USA and Canada which is very cheap, looks like our own Pakistani Government is making hard for us to keep in touch with our love one’s in Pakistan, what a shame we have to write this! I want to say lot more but whatever the reason is Pakistan is my country and I don’t want to write more, hope Pakistani Government feel the same way!

  22. don says:

    ye gov achi nahi hy..jab tk musharaf gov ti..calling ates decrease hoty jaa rhy ty….jab sy ppp aii bakwas hogya….PTA SHOULD SET THE OLD RATES BACK…

  23. S. Khan says:

    Shame on the newly elected government

    All of you are fakes, you could care less for the people
    All you want is power and all you have is greed

    India is at least is taking care of their people by having their call rate remain the same

    Jahil will remain jahil,

    people do not have enough money to buy bread and yet you increase the charges now to keep in touch with family

    Screw the PTA and the new government and screw the jahil so called wannabe intellectuals that supported them

  24. Yousuf says:

    And also to add. A few months back the Pakistani Gov posted a continousy annual increase in Foreign exchange and recently a few days back we hear that the Foreign reserves fall to $12.25bn from $12.612.

    On the other hand look what India is doing to halt the hike on prices.
    “India suspends futures trading in 4 commodities”

  25. Yousuf says:

    For people who are saying that they have been calling 60 minutes, so they should now talk 30 as the rates are doubled. You can still talk and its not as bad as calling to UAE ( ultra modern country with booming economy where termination rates are 20c/min). So we should stop whining about the increased rates. The issue here is the people behind it, not the increase of the rates. Most of the PTA stake holders are from PPP and this seems to be a stupid reform honestly! We better solve other problems in the country.

    As far as the grey trafficing is concerned, trying to nab money off it is not wise. As known for rule of thumb of a Pakistani business technic, go whereever the money is and the establishment for the industry has been made. We donot make apt for developing new lines of businesses, rather just sit and want to own the money making machines.

    Trades with pakistan in other commodoties has received a back lash (eg, cotton is being imported from USA, Egypt, China and India even though we were the best cotton producer.) Rice being smuggled to India and coming to USA and tagged as “Produce of India”. A classical example is the Zafrani rice if any one buys that frequently at the desi store around USA. The currency rate has dropped to 67Rps/1USD. Wheat is not available to the civilians.

    People are debting themselves using credit cards,mortgages and auto financing.

    The only prominent growth has been seen is in the IT industry where pakistani gov posted a profit of about 2 billion Rps in software export.

    Instead of producing educated personalls from the country, we still are struggling on how to stablize. All of this relates to our attitude. If I am a muslim (or any other religion) and a Pakistani, so be proud of it rather sitting in the corner to receive a slap on the face.

  26. aisha says:

    This is really pathetic and a shame for our country n government.With a new government we expect some good policies rather than going back with obsolete rules.It is really difficult for Pakistanis living abroad to call Pakistan and obviously as a whole the revenue will decrease.I used to call my family everyday but i guess no more,instead of 60-70 mins ill be now calling for 2-3 mins so the government can see where this would lead them.

    Every govt of the foreign country works best to relief consumers but we are the opposite.If the govt pls utilise the revenue in the best possible way,(without eating it out) then the lower rates can also do wonders.

    anyways,this policy is not at all welcomed and has disturbed all the expatriates.
    I expect the govt to take some action and reduce the call rates again.

  27. Shahid says:

    I guess I won’t be calling my loved ones more frequent …. I would just miss talking to them…. Sigh…..

  28. jawad bukhari says:

    this is ppp govt and stablishment is aginst ppp govt that is why they increse rate for public. chife minster shoud check this and help us.

  29. Fayyaz says:

    Very bad decision. In most cases it is twice as costly to call Pakistan now. Most of other countries in the region, like Bangladesh, India etc are half priced. From a business point of view like buying textiles etc., it would be cheaper NOT to deal with Pakistan nowdays when most businesses are struggling to make ends meet in the US. In a competitive market every penny counts. Being a tired out proud admirer of Pakistan, I would say as usual Pakistan has taken another bad and terrible Shaukat Aziz type decision. Even the calls to the family will be cut to half or less to stay in a budget.

  30. billooo..........lalay ki jan says:

    Hi, meray khiyal mein mujhay apni hi telecom company kholini chaiay, ya phir PTCL ki booli laga dia hoon. Kio keh PTCL ab bohat khasaray mein ja rahi hay aur Mobilink aur Telenor telecom sector ka sara munafa kha rahay hein………………..leiken kia kia ja sakta hay plz let me think ;D

  31. Affan Khan says:

    Fuck u PTA ppl fuck u assholes .. thts y i hate pakistan i hate it huh i will move my family here .. we suckers go to hell i still call pakistan for 1.5 cents per min and from whr i call u will nvr know .. peace

  32. bella rahim says:

    This SUCKS!!! i wondered why my phone card was charging me loads? i mean i pay legally and do everythin fine and now its charging me loads… is there no cheaper way to make calls to pakistan?

  33. S khan, UK says:

    It really really very sad that the newly democratic Govt: cave in to the demands of local operators and increased the rate to call Pak from abroad. That is a very bad thing for Pak. And more sadly Musharaf govt: will be really really missed. If it was him, he would never do it. What is the use of democracy when it makes the people life worst. We all Pakistani living abroad request to Mr.Zardari and Prime Minister to look into the matter personally and take this very bad decision back and revert to the original rates.

  34. Fahad says:

    Stop this calling rate hiking. Here we are struggling with economic prices and sky rocketing gas prices and on the other hand ya all ended up increasing the rate upto to two folds. This is unexceptable. I understand that the economy is struggling in pakistan as well, so let me ask you all the CEOs and government authorities, its your responsibilties to do some thing about it.

  35. Arshad pawali says:

    what is problem now one want to inform that why rates is going up now u disconnected us to our country
    Arshad sweden lalay de jan

  36. Malik Rizwan Mochi says:

    what is the problem to this company
    kum khaooooooooo munafa
    raas na aaaaaay ga pakistani rupiya
    karo apni marzi mari wari aaai tay ooooooooodadiyan ga totay
    now i m going to buy a pariot to send a massege

  37. billooo mori urf katoo princw says:

    i have no word for call4sale
    they show something other than roll as a mirrow
    attrect the people n than going up
    what the hell is going on
    thanks i m regular user of call4sale to make a call pakistan
    ok can increase u have free hand

  38. zafargondal says:

    hay i m zafar gondal i watched a add on tv about and tomuch happy that now i can call to my parents and friends to pakistan to cheep rates and i buy call4sale i m regular user to make a call to pakistan,when i cam to know that the rates going up , oooooooooooooo my God what ll happend to this world we should move forward but we r going back ,realy disheart
    i daily call my family for 60 min now i m disconnected,now i think that we should search other calling company to make a call to pakistan as cheep as was
    thanks and can go more up

  39. sara says:

    its really bad,now w will not call as frequently as w used to do..really really bad ,
    w should now use calling company other than

  40. Atif says:

    This really sucks. Calls from overseas to pakistan will decrease, and from pakistan to overseas will increase, as rates will be much cheaper the other way. PTA and GOP really don’t know how to set a clear policy that will benefit both the consumers and the carriers. First the rates were decreased to almost nothing, and when they realized that nobody is making money on these rates, they increase it the other way. No carrier in the Western World or even India is making 5 cents per minute per call. This is absurd, and needs to be reversed.

  41. Zahida says:

    what about the long distance calls originating in Pakistan, is there a rate increase for my parents too? As Mr. Zaidi said the rates to the rest of the world is going down and for Pakistan is going up, instead of moving forward and becoming more competitive, we are going backwards….

  42. zaidi says:

    this is very very bad .every where calling rates are decressed but fot pakistan is in cresssing .we want old rates back

  43. ati says:

    I think they don’t want overseas calling their loved one frequently, very sad

  44. S. Saeed says:

    Whatever happened is not good as it seems that it is in the favor of some political party having telecom operation overseas and looking to get advantage. Anyway, we welcome LDI’s or private carriers who can offer us aggressive telecom rates to Pakistan. We have over million minutes per day.

  45. Syed says:

    This is owsum. Now Pakistani govt is putting the burden on Pakistani’s abroad by taking these kind of steps. Dear you need to manage the roots of all these problems instead of just put the pressure on the customers. You know the no. of call from all over the world will decrease because of this step. I hate these policy makers who just make the policies for their own interst not the country’s interst. God Bless Pakistan.

  46. Babar Bhatti says:

    TM – this summary post is here because of your work on TGP … Thank you!

    Umar – I wish you were right but I doubt that this is for the greater good of Pakistan.

    Saleem – it is sad and I think there will be more protests, thanks for sharing your views.

  47. Saleem says:

    These kind of steps can’t stop users to opt for illegal modes for calling Pakistan. Technology is like water…. It makes its own way to flow. In whole Middle east calling rates are high but do you think that people are using correct or legal mode? No, they are using illegal PCO’s with VoIP connections and DSL for talks.

    Its purely wrong step for expatriates and it tells that how much Government is sincere with them. Government is not forgiving any body whether he is living inside country or the one who has left country for the sake of relax life. Our Government wants that people should now stop calling back even. Or take their families also. Its purely bad policy to revert back to position where they were 8 years back.

    After all they have sold PTCL to same Middle east investors so they do as they will like.

  48. Umar says:

    If it is in the direction of balance of trade in Pakistan’s favor, it is not a bad deal at this moment.

    We have achieved remarkable progress in terms of penetration as well as consumer pricing. Considering the current economical and political situation of the country, such measures have to be taken to improve our balance of trade.

    In short-term, it seems like a good step. However, it would benefit some very badly managed companies, who don’t deserve to be benefited without any effort, but thats a trade off which I believe will have to be accepted, in favor of greater economic interest of Pakistan.

  49. Tee Emm says:

    Babar boss: Great summary from around the net on this disturbing topic.

    As expected, the fragile fraternity of the LDI companies is already shaking with ill-confidence on each other in terms of their abilities to maintain the higher rates to their respective international customers. Some are reporting that under the table deals have already start off at 7 cents / min.

    And just like Salman sb said, how this stuff moves forward remains to be seen with lots of interest.

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