If protracted power outages persist amid high fuel prices and strict restrictions on battery imports, the telecom sector has warned the government that connectivity breakdowns will occur.
In a letter to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, leading cellular mobile operators (CMOS) Jazz, Telenor, PTCL, and Ufone stated that “despite having backup power available in the form of generators and batteries, cellular operators are finding it almost impossible to cope with the quantum of these power outages that are beyond our dimensional backup capacity” (PTA).
The purpose of the letter was to alert the telecom regulator to “some critical economy-wide factors, which are directly preventing and are expected to further severely restrict the operators’ ability .
They bemoaned the fact that the provision of generator backup for their base transceiver station (BTS) sites was coming under additional pressure due to the fast rising cost of fuel.
Additionally, they said that the government’s goal of rationalising fuel consumption in these trying times was being violated by the additional fuel consumption required for backup, and that the circumstances had made it a “huge problem” for the operators to maintain network uptime.
The letter further emphasised that since the State Bank of Pakistan placed a 100% cash margin ban on the import of network/backup equipment, including batteries, the situation had gotten worse.
In addition to “dramatically impeding” the addition of greater backup capacity to counter these prolonged power outages, the situation had “severely impacted” the CMOs‘ ability to roll out new sites to meet the licencing quality of service standards, the letter said.