PTCL; the perpetual disappointment of Pakistan

Originally Posted: Dec 13, 2018, at 10:51 am on TechEngage International.

Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited, commonly known as PTCL is Pakistan’s largest as well as the oldest telecommunication provider. To our dismay, it still isn’t the best.

The telecommunication service has been giving people a hard time since forever, no exaggeration. Even a slight drizzling disturbs its signals. Numerous complaints, Open letters and social media shaming have not been able to make the company budge an inch to look into the shortcomings. It’s not that the company has never provided a satisfactory service but the instances of its fluctuation are so frequent that the one forgets that the company ever delivered properly.

Just recently, a few months back (August 2018), there was a major outrage. Due to a fault in the company’s fibre optics, the entire country experienced an internet blackout. The speed was reduced up to 70% in the following week.

The company gave an official statement accepting the issue and pacifying the users that the service will be restored soon. The similar incident happened in August of 2017. An undersea cable got disrupted which ended up hindering the speed of the internet across the country.

What’s interesting is that since it’s an obvious pattern why hasn’t anyone responsible for this looked into this matter?

Another official statement and the company got away with it. July and August are the rainiest months of the year for Pakistan. The distortion of the services in August pretty much explains that. Just as any responsible department would prepare for an inevitable disaster, it’s disappointing to see the company and IT ministry for that matter turning a blind eye to the situation.

Had the problem only persisted in the rainy days, it would have been acceptable to the lowest degree of accepting anything. Given the history of outrages, the company failed us regardless of the weather.

YearsOutrages covered by leading news sites
2018Feb, Aug
2017July, Aug
2016Sept, Dec
2014Jul, Sept

Mind you; these are only those outrages that made it to the news site. The outbreaks experienced by the people individually as well as collectively as a part of a certain region are countless some of which make it to the social media. But then again, PTCL forgets it the next morning as so does everyone else.

The IT ministry takes notice when the damage is done which isn’t how it should go about. By merely giving statements about how the maintenance team is working on resolving the issue may pacify people for the time being (people have stopped believing it, to be honest) and may actually resolve it but it has always been temporary. There has never been a long-term solution to put an end to this problem for once and for all.

Every term of elections results in the changing of the staff at the IT ministry but what does not change is their lamentable sense of irresponsibility.

Telecommunication plays a pivotal role in every society. Without it, we’d still be stuck in the stone age. From providing merely a means of communication to acting as a backbone for a plethora of businesses, its utility knows no boundaries. Imagine a day living without a network connection, and you’ll realize how deeply telecommunications has entrenched in our life.

But let’s be clear on what kind of networking we are talking about. We are talking about WiFi services.

We have a Ministry of Information Technology that is responsible for the ‘establishment, operation, and maintenance of telecommunications.’ The hierarchy of the ministry is more robust than its work, and the majority would agree.

Pakistan’s current Federal Minister of Information Technology is Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui. Is Mr Khalid Maqbool going to do anything about it? We can’t say much. This government, like every government, made a lot of promises of prioritizing the people and their problems. People have voiced out their concerns multiple times, and many of them have stopped doing so realizing the incapacity of PTCL and the failure of IT ministry being able to do anything about it. So, no high hopes.

We are amidst a technological revolution and countries all over the world have gone as far as driverless cars, and here we are stuck with an inconsistent telecom. Yes, there are other options and people are gradually shifting to StormFiber, Brain Telecom, and Transworld, etc. But these networks provide their services only in certain areas which means that not many have the option to go for a consistent service provider.

Is there any room for improvement?

PTCL is the largest and most widely used telecom service providers so without any doubt, yes. The company has networks across the country and has been providing services to various other networks.

The first area where the company needs to improve massively is its infrastructure. The decades-old infrastructure and the worn-out network of cables that are sensitive to even the minor changes in the weather need to be replaced with a solid structure. This may sound like a huge investment to make but is it really, given the huge bills we get charged with despite the outrages.

This also makes one ponder over the fact that if they don’t pay a bill on time, the company does not hesitate to cut off its services until the bill is paid then why doesn’t it penalize itself for the numerous outrages or exclude the charges for the days it could not provide the internet, to say the least.

The other problem that gets on everyone’s nerve is its poor customer support. You call the customer support, talk to the representative who redirects you to another representative who either makes you restart your connection and check with your customer’s IP account or if you are even more unlucky to might get redirected to a third customer care representative. Sometimes they test your patience by making you wait for a very long time. Once they have registered your complaint, you will get automated calls the next day and the next day and the next.

Customer support is meant to facilitate the customers not annoy them. Customer support representatives at PTCL often pacify the customers by telling them that a lineman will arrive soon to check what’s wrong and if it’s your lucky day the lineman does visit and comes to a conclusion that the router needs to be changed. Instead of compensating its cost with the old router, the customers are made to pay for the new device which is a major rip-off.

Final Word

To put it simply, people have had enough. They are exhausted to a point where now they think internet service fluctuation is the only thing PTCL excels in.

It’s an era of technology where a multitude of businesses depends solely on telecommunications. The progress of the country is contingent upon the IT sector. And PTCL is the major stakeholder with a lot of shareholders across Pakistan. Improving PTCL equals improving the ISP of Pakistan as a whole.

Do let us know what you think in the comments section below!

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