Pakistan Telecommunication Authority

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Pakistan Telecommunication Authority
Agency overview
Formed 1994
Jurisdiction Government of Pakistan
Agency executives
  • Syed Ismail Shah, PhD, Chairman
  • Mr. Tariq Sultan, Member (Finance)
  • Mr. Abdul Samad, Member (Compliance & Enforcement)

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) is Pakistani government agency responsible for the establishment, operation and maintenance of telecommunications in Pakistan. Headquartered in Islamabad, PTA also has regional offices located in Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta, Muzaffarabad and Rawalpindi.

By November 2013, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) reported that overall cellular phone subscription has reached 132 million with increase of 25 million new numbers in the past two years.[1][2]


The Pakistan Telecommunication Ordinance 1994, established the primary regulatory framework for the telecommunication industry including the establishment of an authority. Thereafter, Telecommunication (Re-Organization) Act no XVII was promulgated in 1996 that aimed to reorganize the telecom sector of Pakistan. Under Telecom Reorganization Act 1996, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) was established in January 1997 to regulate the establishment, operation and maintenance of telecommunication systems, and the provision of telecom services.[3]


To regulate the establishment, operation and maintenance of telecommunication systems and provision of telecommunication services in Pakistan. To receive and expeditiously dispose of applications for the use of radio-frequency spectrum. To promote and protect the interests of users of telecommunication services in Pakistan. To promote the availability of a wide range of high quality, efficient, cost effective and competitive telecommunication services throughout Pakistan. To promote rapid modernization of telecommunication systems and telecommunication services. To investigate and adjudicate on complaints and other claims made against licensees arising out of alleged contraventions of the provisions of this Act, the rules made and licenses issued there under and take action accordingly. To make recommendations to the Federal Government on policies with respect to international telecommunications, provision of support for participation in international meetings and agreements to be executed in relation to the routing of international traffic and accounting settlements.[4]

Responsibilities of Authority[edit]

In exercising its functions and powers under the Act, the authority ensures:

Rights of licensees are duly protected. All of its decisions and determinations are made promptly, in an open equitable, non discriminatory, consistent and transparent manner. All applications made to it are disposed of expeditiously; The persons affected by its decisions or determination are given a due notice thereof and provided with an opportunity of being heard. It encourages, except subject to the exclusive right of the company in basic telephone service, fair competition in the telecommunication sector. The interest of users of telecommunication services are duly safeguarded and protected.


PTA, has given number of Mobile, Fixed Line licenses to operators for services in Pakistan.

3G and 4G License Auction[edit]

PTA was willing to auction 3G license as early as 2008,[5] as it had completed the framework for 3G Mobile Phone Operations in Pakistan. Due to Government's negligence and lack of focus, the matter of the auction dragged on, being raised again in 2012 and 2013. One 4G licenses and three 3G licenses were finally auctioned on 23 April 2014.[6][7] The 4G license was bagged by Zong (as well as 10 MHz 3G license), while the 3G licenses were auctioned to Telenor (5Mhz), Mobilink (10Mhz) and Ufone (5Mhz). While Warid Pakistan was the only operator in Pakistan not to bid on the auction; Later on, Warid acquired the 4G LTE license and is providing services to all the major cities. The auction raised a total of $1.22 billion including 10% advance tax for the government of Pakistan.[8]


On February 22, 2008, PTA attempted to block regional access to YouTube following a government order. The attempt inadvertently caused a worldwide YouTube blackout that took 20 hours to correct.[9] Four days later, PTA lifted the ban after YouTube removed controversial religious comments made by a Dutch Member of Parliament[10] concerning Islam.[11]

On 14 November 2011, PTA distributed a list of 1,695 "obscene" words (1,109 in English and 586 in Urdu) to mobile network operators and gave them 7 days to mandatory implement SMS filtering.[12] Many of the banned words were expletives or sexual slang, but the list included medical terms (such as "athlete's foot") and benign words (such as "Jesus" and "Budweiser").[13][14] Following widespread ridicule by the Pakistani public, particularly on social media, PTA backed down and promised more consultation on the final list of banned words.[15]

PTA in collaboration with PTCL has also been surreptitiously blocking porn and other sites regarded as "undesirable" or "offensive". As of 01 Jan 2012, the block first detected in November remains in place. The block includes the popular music website, for reasons unknown and unexplained. The block leads to a time out or redirects users to YouTube. Majority of the wired Pakistani society remains largely ignorant of this block, with no word forthcoming from PTA in explanation of their actions as of 4 Jan, 2012.

On 15 Jan, 2013 Lahore High Court terms the appointment of Farooq Ahmed Awan Illegal and Terminated him as the Chairman Pakistan Telecommunication Authority. Farooq Ahmed Awan was appointed as Chairman of the PTA on 27 July 2012 after Dr. Muhammad Yaseen, step down as the Chairman of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.[16]

External links[edit]