Why is the internet being shut down? Telecom operators seek clarity 

TOA calls for justification from PTA over recurring internet throttling incidents

ISLAMABAD: The Telecom Operators Association (TOA) has written a letter to Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) raising grave concerns about the recurring internet throttling incidents, emphasizing the adverse effects of restricting access to digital social media on business.

It has been reported that on various occasions in the last few months, users have found themselves unable to access social media platforms and other internet services. While the precise cause of this remains unknown, the TOA attributes them to political reasons and asks for clarification from the PTA.

TOA, representing cellular mobile and fixed-line operators, expressed dismay over the slowdown and subsequent blocking of prominent social media sites like Instagram, X (formerly known as ‘Twitter’), YouTube, and Facebook on Sunday evening. Allegedly, this blocking was intended to limit access for Pakistani users during Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s virtual fundraising marathon.

In a letter addressed to Major General (Retd) Hafeez Ur Rehman, Chairman of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), TOA highlighted the apparent internet throttling, resulting in a significant degradation of user experience nationwide. The association urged the telecom regulator to investigate these disruptions and prevent their recurrence in the future.

The letter urged the PTA to issue a comprehensive clarification statement about the recent incidents and outline preventive measures. TOA emphasized that such disruptions, which marked the second incident after a similar setback on December 17, 2023, during a Pakistan Tehreek-I-Insaf online public meeting, severely undermines the government’s ambitions to position Pakistan as a key Information and Communication Technology (ICT) hub and negatively impact the country’s international image.

Acknowledging the support for the government’s initiatives to bolster Pakistan’s ICT sector, TOA expressed strong concerns about the adverse effects of access censorship measures, labeling them as futile in the modern era. They noted the inundation of queries flooding telecom operators’ websites and helplines during the recent incident, lamenting the lack of real answers, leading to consumer dissatisfaction.

Highlighting the indispensable role of digital connectivity in contemporary life, TOA stressed that disrupting access to social media platforms and websites adversely affects people’s lives, undermines businesses, hampers national productivity, and tarnishes the country’s image.

As the nation grapples with these internet disruptions, TOA urges swift action from regulatory bodies to prevent future occurrences and ensure uninterrupted access to digital platforms essential for Pakistan’s technological growth and global positioning.

Ghulam Abbas
Ghulam Abbas
The writer is a member of the staff at the Islamabad Bureau. He can be reached at [email protected]

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