According to this news item Pakistani mobile companies are going after the WLL operators – yet again. Since deregulation of telecom started in Pakistan the GSM based mobile companies and CDMA based WLL operators have been pitched in a battle. This is ironic as the WLL operators are not known for their quality of services. A quick look at Pakistani forums here shows many messages about wrong billing, poor performance and lack of customer service.

Wireless Local Loop (WLL) it is a fixed wireless access technology through which phone and internet service is offered through a wireless device (see the Huawei WLL phone on the right) but only within a limited location.

The idea of “limited mobility” was to avoid direct competetion with mobile phone but that’s not how mobile industry looks at it. Paktel, Telenor, Warid and Mobilink signed and sent a formal complaint letter to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority pointing out the violations of regulated policies by the WLL operators. This complaint was followed soon after PTA announced results of its WLL quality of service (QoS) survey.

The PTA QoS Survey was conducted in 8 major cities including Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi/Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta, Multan, Faisalabad and Hyderabad to gauge the quality of WLL service. The Limited Mobility aspect of WLL service was also surveyed. The operators checked include PTCL V Wireless, Telecard (Go CDMA), Great Bear and World Call. Survey was conducted within the network of the operators and with other networks that included PTCL, Mobile Operators and all other WLL.

PTA site says that: It was also observed in the survey that WLL operators are not strictly following the determination on limited mobility. Therefore, they have been asked to take immediate action to implement the same and submit a compliance report to PTA by 15 December 2006.

A few words about PTA policy on WLL. PTA had decided to restrict mobility in CDMA-based WLL networks to so-called “home-cell”. The resolution limits mobility of WLL subscribers in Pakistan to within 1-2 km in urban areas and up to 25 km in rural areas, a far cry from total mobility available to CDMA subscribers in India. The policy also known as fixed-line policy proposes two types of licenses, which includes local loop fixed-line and long distance and international (LDI) fixed-line.

More from the news article: “The complaint, in fact, defines overall violation by the WLL operators for effectively providing cellular services, which amounts to clear violation of the determination on implementation of limited mobility issued by the PTA,” said a source citing the complaint text. “It is important to keep in mind that the aim of the WLL was not to provide mobility to the customers, rather it was to provide fixed wireless access, which is an alternative to fixed line or Plain Old Telephone Service” he said.

The government awarded some licenses to 30 companies for fixed telephony; sixteen companieshave been given licenses for WLL while 14 licenses were issued licenses for LDI.

Lets see what happens this year – poor consumers are losing anyway.