LAHORE -  The 140 million subscribers of cellular services in the country will be benefited if the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) revises the Mobile Termination Rates (MTR) significantly which are considered highest in the region, telecom industry experts said.

MTR are the charges which one cellular operator charges to another for incoming calls on its network. This is why calls on other networks are expensive as compared to the ones on the same network. They said that the PTA consultation paper on the “Review of Mobile Termination Rates” is critical for the consumers as well as operators due to the fact that determination of MTR and timelines for cost based study by the PTA will help in reduction of off-net call rates and set the direction of the sector towards futuristic interconnection regime as per the new Telecommunication Policy.

The termination rates are substantially higher in Pakistan and in favour of larger operators because the volume of incoming traffic is much higher on bigger operators as compared to the smaller ones. Consequently, smaller operators have to pay a great deal of money to those having bigger market share. This situation gives larger operators a competitive advantage and greater profits by creating a substantial disparity between on-net and off-net call prices that eventually subscribers have to bear. Besides, it also shrinks the profit margin of smaller operators, jeopardizing their investment of billions of rupees.

The global practice is that the regulatory authorities set the MTR for one year and set a downward “glide path” to give the level-playing field to smaller operators. However, the MTR in Pakistan has not been revised for seven years. The current rate is Rs0.90 per minute which is proposed to be revised. However, the examples of India and other such countries, where the termination rates have been reduced drastically and now moving down to almost zero.

The authority took the decision of revising the current MTR on the requests of telecom operators who want to offer cheaper call rates to their subscribers even on other networks.