Data outage in Pakistan

Sixty thousand BlackBerry users across the country facing BlackBerry data outages in contempt of an end of Facebook ban by the Lahore High Court.

Last month, there was a ban on Facebook website in Pakistan by any source available, the BlackBerry service was also banned. (article)

Sajjad Zaidi, a systems engineer, says he stopped using his BlackBerry, which was provided service by Mobilink as “because of the restrictions, this expensive service became useless for me. My work requires me to monitor computer servers around the world via different websites. I used my BlackBerry phone excessively for this purpose.” He added that he now carries his laptop everywhere to be able to do his work.

What is most annoying is the fact that we are being charged the full amount even though we are not getting the full range of services,” says another annoyed BlackBerry user, Sophia Khwaja, a professor at an art college in Islamabad. “We are not being given the option of a refund or a cut in our monthly fee. Meanwhile, telecom companies continue to make huge profits as usual.

Mobilink, Telenor, Ufone, Warid and Zong all charge Rs1000 plus tax per month from BlackBerry users.

According to the head of communications at Ufone, Moazzam Khan, Pakistan has about 60,000 BlackBerry users. The bulk of these customers are with Mobilink, Ufone and Telenor. Although companies such as Ufone have witnessed an exponential growth in BlackBerry usage over the years, the fact is that the figure is still just a fraction of the total number of mobile phone users in the country. According to the PTA, 97.3 million people (or 59.40 per cent of the total population of the country) were mobile phone subscribers by the end of April 2010.

However, later, BlackBerry was restored “only for e-mail access and not for internet surfing”. The reply to the court added that on the ministry’s directives, a total of 10,548 web-links apart from Facebook were also blocked.

Press release >>

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Written by Shahzoor Ali


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