On 18 October 2008, PTCL launched free dialup Internet service for all its telephone customers. The decision was proving to be a final nail in coffin of ailing ISP industry which in past has witnessed many onslaughts, predatory pricings anti-competitive moves from the state owned incumbent (now partially privately owned), PTCL.
ISPAK approached the regulator, PTA and hearings were held wherein PTA desired to formulate a long term model for betterment of all stakeholders, PTCL, ISPs and the Internet users. After detailed discussions and deliberations, a new model for dialup ISPs was emerged wherein all ISPs including PTCL would provide free dialup access to the customers through 131 access. ISPs would advertise/market their service on service quality, customer support, etc., and access would be open for all PTCL phone users to connect to Internet using any ISP’s username and password. PTCL would charge one local call for every 20 minutes for Internet users and this revenue would be shared between PTCL (30%) and ISPs (70%) in case of ISPs POP being located in same area codes of calls origination. In case of calls originating from outside area codes, this revenue share would be PTCL 65% and ISPs 35%. Long distance Internet calls (from area codes where ISPs are not located) would still be charged at the cost of local call/20 minute.
There would be no scratch cards for the ISPs and customer’s would be billed in their PTCL’s monthly bill for a local call of 20 minutes duration. This would mean Rs. 6/hour of dialup Internet for the users. Currently, the Internet scratch cards are being sold at Rs. 2 to 4/hr. With one local call per hour, the expense of users was around Rs. 5-6/hr. Industry standard (in Pakistan) duration of Internet calls is 20 to 30 minutes. So for the users, there would be hardly any change in the charges. Users would also have more choices to use any ISP they like and would be billed in PTCL’s bill at the end of every month.
Final Agreement was signed between PTCL and ISPs on 01 January 09 at PTA. The new regime would be effective from 01 February 2009.