Ali got a surprise when Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) sent him his August broadband internet bill which was much more than his expectation. Apparently he is not the only one, quite a few customers of the largest broadband service provider have also been charged without being informed.
Ali, who took the most of the unlimited package, when approached the company was told that the facility was no more unlimited and a data usage limit had been put into effect.
When Ali inquired how users would know about this, he was told to call the company’s helpline (1236) and listen to the packages. The company’s website still flashes ‘unlimited internet package’ but with an asterisk which informs people, if they scroll to the bottom of the page, about the limitation.
They notification says, “for quality assurance purposes and to provide uninterrupted service to all customers, Rs1,000 per month will be charged for greater than 50 gigabytes download. This is applicable to 4 mbps, 6 mbps and 8 mbps packages.”
PTCL has started charging its customers extra if they download more than 50 gigabytes a month. PTCL’s helpline staff says the company sent notifications, informing people about this change on August 1, but Ali and other users have complained about never receiving it.
Those who subscribe to lower than 2 mbps packages will not have to pay this extra charge.
Fourth fastest growing broadband country
Broadband started getting popular in the country after operators started providing unlimited data plans without fair usage limits.
Pakistan is ranked fourth in terms of broadband internet growth in the world, as the subscriber base of broadband internet has rapidly increased and crossed 170,000 in the country, according to rankings released by global research centre Point Topic Global broadband analysis.
Earlier, all unlimited data plans were being offered with a fair usage limit but advertisements always had a disclaimer at the bottom informing users in advance about the fair usage limit. Operators started charging by the megabyte or lower the speed after the fair usage data limit surpassed.
Users who missed out on the fine print sometimes ended up with quite an interesting surprise on their bills or had to deal with slow internet. However, analysts pointed out that this Rs1,000 for the hardcore users was nothing compared with the surprises during the fair usage limit regime.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2011.
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