The Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd (PTCL) has been asked by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to change subscriber numbers to eight digits owing to shortage of landline numbers for other telephone operators.
However, the PTCL is not happy with the decision as they would have to invest heavily in making the changes. PTCL Senior Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Sikander Naqi, said some of the major areas that would need investment are the company’s exchanges in Karachi and Lahore and the billing system.
He said the new numbers would also mean higher printing costs whilst customer awareness would mean higher advertising and marketing costs.
Naqi stated that with the many changes which would bring about with the addition of an extra digit, the PTCL would also have to invest a lot of time for its successful implementation.
The PTCL would only be changing its Karachi and Lahore phone numbers to eight digits due to higher number of subscribers in these two cities. Naqi informed that demand for change of numbers has not been called for from any other area of Pakistan as yet. Although the new numbers have been already implemented in some areas, the official launch would be from July 1 onwards, Naqi stated.
The change in numbers would be as follows: Digit 9 would be added prior to all government telephone numbers and digit 3 would be added to all private numbers. However, at the same time, Naqi said that since this is a common practice all over the world to add additional digits to numbers when the demand exceeds supply, the PTCL had to go along with the regulator’s decision. He held that it was not a hindrance to their subscribers as the numbers continued to remain the same and only one digit had been added in the beginning which was common for all numbers.
He also believed that since people are used to saving phone numbers in mobile phone directories and dialing/retrieving from them, they would not have to make any additional efforts to memorize them.
“Many don’t even remember their own phone numbers as they save them in their cellphone directories” he added. Referring to the tough competition being given by mobile service providers, Naqi said that there was no threat to PTCL as a cellphone was a personal object and number and PTCL was considered more of a “family number”. The News also contacted all the major mobile phone service operators of Pakistan to enquire whether they would be making any changes to their technical set-ups.
The service providers said that they are not likely to implement any changes to their numbers soon.
Source: The News, 7th June, 2009.