KARACHI: Thousands of customers of the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) were left fuming on Monday after technical faults in its optic fibre cable network disrupted services for hours across the country with the effect being most profoundly felt in cities in Sindh and Balochistan.
The company, which issued a damage control statement soon after reports of the technical fault emerged across the social media, said it has located four different places where its fibre optic system was affected.
“Our main focus right now is to restore our services. We have started restoring the system quite speedily,” PTCL Marketing and Communications Executive Vice President Syed Shahzad Shah told The Express Tribune when asked to identify the cause and extent of the fault.
Importance of the PTCL to consumers can be gauged from its position in the market, as it is the sole provider of landline telephone services. It also provides cable television, DSL broadband and mobile broadband services that were reportedly also disrupted.
Ufone, a cellular mobile operator that is owned by the PTCL, was also affected for several hours. Its service has been inconsistent for over a week, most likely caused by the technical fault that reached its plateau on Monday.
Shah said there were four locations where the company had detected issues in the system. “These places include the Karachi-Hyderabad Highway, Khuzdar, Hub and Karachi city,” he said.
Asked about the reason for interruption in services, he said the company, which was privatised by the government in 2005, has formed a high-level committee to investigate the reason.
Suspension of PTCL services also caused great inconvenience to customers in various parts of the country, but Sindh and Balochistan were the worst affected provinces.
The telephone, cellular phone, broadband and smart TV services went off line around 2 pm on Monday causing suspension of all lined facilities resulting in suspension of work at public and private offices, banks, railways, business, print and electronic media, which included business dealing, railway reservations, bank operation, including ATM service as well as communications.
The citizens approached the PTCL offices to enquire about the situation but the officials failed to cite a valid reason regarding suspension of the services which slowly restored after six-and-a-half hours delay in Sindh.
Meanwhile, Parvez Iftikhar, an Islamabad-based expert on Information and Communications Technology, said this case was unique due to its occurrence at multiple locations.
“It is a case of multiple cuts in optic fibre cables. It’s quite strange to see such problems occurring at so many locations at the same time,” he said. The PTCL services were also affected in Islamabad because all long distance major cables are routed through Karachi, he added.
Some Ufone customers reportedly also complained of technical faults in service for over a week. Shah claimed that the landline and other services of the company remained unaffected during the day, but some customers reported problems in the Smart TV and landline services of the company. “There has been no complete breakdown in the services of the company in any part of the country,” he added. (Additional input from APP)
Published in The Express Tribune, December 27th, 2016.