ISLAMABAD - Only Interior Minister Rehman Malik knows the reason for banning mobile network portability, as different experts on the subject have denied any knowledge as to how network portability could cause security issues.

They termed ban on cell phone services merely tantamount to creating trouble for the customers and depriving them of their basic rights.

On the pretext of security concerns, Interior Minister Rehman Malik a few days back banned Mobile Network Portability (MNP) that allowed the customers to transfer their number to another suitable network for them while having no change in number and code.

When asked Pakistan Telecom Authority officials that whether or not they suggested the measure to be taken, they categorically denied and said the order came directly from Rehman Malik, adding that PTA in technical terms could not find any wisdom behind it.

On the condition of anonymity, they said that the service was started to promote perfect competition in the market and to facilitate consumers in terms of providing them opportunity to select the network of their convenience and affordability.

The network portability service had forced some mobile companies even to curtail their call charges and that ultimately was benefiting the common people living in the country. The official sources explained that mobile network portability does not raise any security concern as once the sim data is complete and it is registered to the person using it, wherever it is ported the data goes along.

The sources also said that around 25 million people ported out their mobile network since the scheme had been launched. The total number of consumers is around 120 million so around 20 per cent mobile users changed their network and that is a huge number.

It is worth mentioning here that people used to port out their numbers to different networks due to several reasons including high call charges and service issues. There are many people who cannot change their number as they use it for their business for a long time so it was an easier and convenient option for them to change the network that now has been snatched from them by the Interior Minister Rehman Malik without a proper justification.

Atifa Asghar, Director Corporate Communications & Responsibility, Telenor Pakistan on the said decision has said, “MNP has been a highly successful service with over 25 million people availing it. This constitutes over 20% of the mobile phone users. MNP service is specifically useful for people who conduct their businesses through their mobile phones and cannot afford to change their numbers.

Coupled with the hectic process that has been introduced to purchase a new SIM, ban on MNP will result in limiting customer choice and thus violating their basic rights. People, even if dissatisfied with services of a company may be forced to stick with the same connection due to issues involved in switching”.

It is very important to mention here that no one in telecom sector and those who deals with technical side, did not second the decision taken by Rehman Malik and termed it against consumers only while there was no technical evidence available that network portability could cause any security concern.