Once again, country’s call center industry has been badly hit by an order from Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) directing the Internet bandwidth providers to block the voice ports. The orders came over the weekend and implemented by the country’s second largest IP backbone provider TWA, giving little time to the call centers to provide necessary documentation to the authorities to enable voice communication. The largest Internet backbone provider, PTCL, has already been blocking voice ports for all of its customers for last many months. Call centers provide telephonic support to their customers in USA and Europe and the industry has been considerably grown in Pakistan during last two years due to cost differential of call center agents salaries. But the industry has been critical of poor support provided to them by the Government despite hefty promises made by the politicians and bureaucrats visiting USA and Europe to lure expatriate Pakistani community to invest in their homeland. “We invested in Pakistan and started two new projects, employing hundreds of youth” said Bene Amin of Real Skill, UK. He went on to say “we then had electricity problems and we purchased UPSs and generators and we continued the fight. But with the sudden voice ports blocking we are losing customers and we will soon die”. The industry is also very bitter about the attitude of PTA, Ministry of IT and PTCL terming their moves as killer for the fast growing business process outsourcing (BPO) industry and termed their decisions as blind and ill-informed. Call center and BPO industry in neighbouring India has grown many folds over last five years and brings export earnings every year which are more than Pakistan’s total exports. Few days back, the owner of country’s largest Software Technology Park at ETC Complex, Islamabad ordered a large number of IT companies to vacate their premises on a very short notice or face court action.
On strong protest from ISPAK, PTA on 07 June 2008 asked TWA to open voice ports of all call centers immediately and contacted PSEB to certify registration status of these call centers.