PTA Clarification

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With reference to article titled “Telcos lose $1 billion revenue yearly due to grey traffic” published in Flare Magazine of July-August 2021. Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) wishes to clarify gross inaccuracies in the article to put the issue in correct perspective.

PTA has not provided any such information to Audit Department that the sector lost  $1 billion annually due to grey traffic. The claimed loss is against the fact and defies basic logic since the total size of the international calling market is close to $ 300 million annually and the grey traffic constitutes a very small percentage of the legitimate traffic. Moreover, grey traffic volume is consistently on the decline during the past few years due to number of proactive steps taken by the PTA in conjunction with the telecom operators. Hence, it is blatantly wrong and misleading to quote $ 1 billion losses per annum.

It may be further added that, LDI sector has witnessed stability in revenues for the year 2020 when compared with 2019. Healthy trend in legal international incoming traffic minutes has been witnessed as traffic increased by 9.45% in 2020-2021 compared to 2019-2020 despite consistent increase in OTT traffic. The legal traffic coming into Pakistan has witnessed a surge of over 120 million minutes per month as compared to 2019. During same time, grey traffic channels such as Mobile/Fixed Line connections, used by grey operators to terminate international calls, have declined by over 85% through effective enforcement.

PTA has always remained vigilant to the task, and has adopted a dynamic strategy against grey traffic. Furthermore, PTA continuously monitors the situation to enhance its commercial and technical regulatory actions to safeguard the sector against grey traffic.

Grey traffic or revenue bypass is a type of telecom fraud, common across telecom sectors. It is tackled globally by the operators and regulators via different commercial and technical measures. Same approach is being applied in Pakistan as well.