Islamabad - Now mobile phone operators will have to take permission from the regulator before launching any promotional package or offer, as Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) on Thursday announced amendments in Consumer Protection Regulations.

According to the amended regulations, the telecom operators will have to inform PTA before launching commercial services, including any campaign for the promotion of any service.

Now the operators will have to tailor their campaigns in the manner, as prescribed by PTA, from time to time; there is no further explanation of the ‘prescribed manner’, however.

Under the amended regulations, the operators cannot launch any commercial activity, contrary to law, and they will have to inform PTA, at least 10 working days prior to launching any new promotional scheme. As per amendments, the operators can offer permissible incentives, while promoting their services.

Such incentives will comprise of telecom service related benefits, including free or additional telecom services, its features, and/or services offered on concessional rates, excluding lottery.

PTA may alter, restrict, suspend or impose any commercial activity or telecommunication service promotional schemes, if deemed necessary, and the operator will be responsible for providing title and key features of such activities to PTA.

The operator will also have to give an undertaking that commercial practices and telecom promotional schemes are in compliance with the Act, Rules, Regulations and all other laws of Pakistan.

He will also have to provide a complete list to PTA of the number, types of incentives to be given to the qualifying consumers, parameters/benchmarks for determining winners and details of mechanism, place and date for the selection of qualifying consumers.

Furthermore, under the new regulations, an undertaking will have to be given that key features of the offered promotional scheme would be published in at least one national and local language newspaper as well as on the licensee's, website in a clear, transparent and non-discriminatory manner.

According to PTA, the amended provisions of ‘Telecommunication Consumer Protection Regulations, 2009’ are aimed at protecting the consumer interests, as mandated under the Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-organisation) Act 1996.

The regulations now provide a mechanism with regard to launching commercial practices and promotional schemes by the operators.

“After the amendments, the consumers can now approach the telecom operators for protection from unwanted and fraudulent promotional campaigns, while the latter are bound to facilitate these consumers,” PTA said in a handout.

According to insiders, the step was taken after it came to light that some of the operators were advertising free minutes or lotteries, but there were many hidden costs and conditions.

PTA media department did not respond, when asked to comment on the reasons behind amending the regulations.