PTCL broadband surprise: Unlimited package now with a price

Published: September 19, 2011
Largest broadband service provider imposes data usage limit. PHOTO: FILE

Largest broadband service provider imposes data usage limit. PHOTO: FILE


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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Reader Comments (52)

  • Lahori
    Sep 19, 2011 - 1:45AM

    Bandwidth hogs who spoil the experience for others must pay up.
    Ali should stop complaining. Broadband rates in Pakistan are the lowest in the world. An extra 12 dollars for sucking the marrow out of your connection isn’t so bad.


  • Majid
    Sep 19, 2011 - 3:52AM

    Rates in Pakistan are not even close to being the cheapest. The packages are reasonably priced , i agree, but contrast those with those in eastern european and scandinavian countries. For example, you can get an 80Mbits up/ 60Mbits down/ 7 ms ping connection in Romania for just 10$ a month which equates to roughly 870 rupees and that too without bandwidth cap.


  • Majid
    Sep 19, 2011 - 3:54AM

    For the source of my claim you can check out discussion taking place on Reddit with users from many countries chiming in.


  • Tariq
    Sep 19, 2011 - 3:55AM

    @Lahori: I did not know you use dollars in Paksitan


  • Zain Kamran
    Sep 19, 2011 - 9:13AM

    First of all, bandwidth rates in Pakistan are not cheap. They take 1000 rs from you for a 1mb connection which only gives you top speeds as much as 100kb/s !
    as compared to other countries, we don’t get quality for money here. You can easily get a 25mb/s connection in UK or USA for as low as $30 ! WITH SPEEDS FOR UPTO 14-16MB/s ON AVERAGE BASIS ! ( ACTUAL 14MB PER SECOND ! and that too in old localities ….)
    If you ask PTCL or any other ISP in Pakistan about this speed issue, they tell you TWO things.
    1 – Sir, you are lucky that you are even getting 100kb/s …. most of our users are unable to cross even 80kb/s !
    2 – Sir, there’s an issue of Kilobits and Kilobytes. SO DON’T COMPLAIN ! you are getting the right speed. Recommend

  • ASQ
    Sep 19, 2011 - 9:43AM

    This was bound to happen with continued inflation in the country!


  • RizwanTKhan
    Sep 19, 2011 - 9:52AM

    Had a pathetic experience with PTCL. Would never recommend anyone to get any service. He will always cry over his decision.Recommend

  • HH
    Sep 19, 2011 - 10:14AM

    @Zain Kamran

    They are Correct.. 1Mb is a 1 Megabit connection.. You should be getting ~100KB/sec on that..


  • Masood
    Sep 19, 2011 - 10:36AM

    on Student package PTCL is Increasing charges day by day ; 840 – 880 – Now 920 / Month


  • Aint A Troll
    Sep 19, 2011 - 11:26AM

    Broadband is a shared media, 1Mb mean upto 1 mb, its not dedicated 1mb, max 117KB/sec of transfer rate, since a shared media, if more number of user per-link less ‘speed’ you will get, but now since fiber is running to every country PTCL should upgrade its pipe by least 50% of what they have for Pakistan, its simply not enough…
    its same like 500 56k modem users used to share 4mb of local ISP bandwidth, that was absurd…
    No Quality service…


  • Izhar ul Haq
    Sep 19, 2011 - 1:21PM

    In other Asian countries, you would be paying 3 times for 1/10 of 50GB. Recommend

  • Imtiaz
    Sep 19, 2011 - 2:28PM

    never received a notification until a flyer landed in my mail on Sept 17. The flyer said the new pricing is applicable from August 1.

    Following are some addition concerns.

    There is apparently no way for consumers to find out or track their consumption. I called the helpline 1218 and they told me I need to call to find out. Which is weird cos you have to wait so much too. A friend shared a URL for a tracking portal, but apparently i havent consumed anything.
    A blanket charge of 1k for anything over 50GB is silly. Build slab rates or throw in a per GB / per 10 gb charge.
    There is no way of finding out if this is charged on downloads or on net data transfer. uploads can constitute anywhere between 10% and 50% of total data transfer.


  • Shoaib
    Sep 19, 2011 - 3:22PM

    Ban porn and we won’t have bandwidth overusage problems in Pakistan. Saudia can do it why cant we.


  • thats not the point
    Sep 19, 2011 - 4:05PM

    What all of you are not trying to grasp is the fact that PTCL implemented the bandwidth cap without any proper notification to the customers. I hardly know of any person who go informed from PTCL about this cap. These * should be dragged to the consumer court for this!


  • Kashif
    Sep 19, 2011 - 4:10PM

    would you defend PTCL in the same manner if you were billed 50% higher retrospectively on your PTCL internet connection?

    The essence of the objection raised by Ali is not of if it is right or wrong to charge extra, but the unethical practice of not communicating package changes with the customers!

    @thats not the point – respect bro!


  • Faizan
    Sep 19, 2011 - 5:03PM


    100 % agree band porn based website

    Ban porn and we won’t have bandwidth overusage problems in Pakistan. Saudia can do it why cant we…

    PTA is sleeping i guess


  • Faizan
    Sep 19, 2011 - 5:05PM

    I am quite sure if a lawsuit is fired against PTCL they have to take back extra money from August and September .


  • Mutee
    Sep 19, 2011 - 5:18PM

    Oh yes, ban porn!


  • Vigilant
    Sep 19, 2011 - 5:21PM

    if broadband is not cheap in Pakistan then you should look at the prices in KSA


  • Muhammad Humayun Aziz
    Sep 19, 2011 - 6:11PM

    I had a worst experience with PTCL, I went to complain for nearly One and half month at regular interval but in vain, I complaint to the PTCl 1218 and to the PTCL General Manager Khi region even to PTA numerous time, Now I switched on to Pvt company and feeling a relief of sigh. Another thing, when I got to know that PTCL CEO got an award for best customer care my mind mesmerize I complain to the firm for awarding PTCL CEO but no response from them. Hilarious… I hate PTCL more than ever now, the best point is they sent me bill for the event my whole internet was in their kind cutody for repairment.


  • Hatim
    Sep 19, 2011 - 6:25PM

    @ Omair Zeeshan: did you use your 50GB to download something that was legal?


  • Ahmad
    Sep 19, 2011 - 6:28PM

    PTCL, with the time also start compromise over SPEED OF INTERNET , they proudly declare that their users are rising in numbers
    but QUALITY is declining


  • ihatepakistan
    Sep 19, 2011 - 7:42PM

    Ptcl do something better instead of looting your own customers.. Abroad you can enjoy unlimited internet without any extra charges.. Ok for one moment I accept you guys are doing good but where is this good money going?? from ages these copper wires haven’t changed.The other thing they have also increased the rate of student package from 849 to 940 something.. this is completely insane .. I hate Democrazy .. oh sorry democracy Recommend

  • Babur Chughtai
    Sep 19, 2011 - 8:04PM

    No one should be misled by PTCL’s announcement. Your broadband connection will go down the next time they have a union strike. The last one, in summer 2010, lasted for a month. My connection went down and was never restored. PTCL’s helpline kept lying and saying it would be restored in a couple of days, this weekend, next weekend, this Monday, etc. I bought EVO wireless device for Rs. 5000 and kept recharging with Rs. 100 daily cards in the hope the boradband would be restored. Eventually, it never was. Then PTCL slapped me for a Rs. 4,500 bill for two months of broadband that I never used. When told about PTCL’s union strike, the answer I got was this: You signed up for the service and you have to pay the bill regardless of whether you received the service or not! Because of PTCL’s incompetence, the lawyers hired by PTCL to pursue defaulters are in trouble because a large number of defaulters are not really defaulters but clients who are being charged by PTCL for services never received. My email address is available here with Express Tribune and I challenge PTCL to respond to me.


  • Fawad Shah
    Sep 19, 2011 - 8:06PM

    This is what exactly happened to me. I called them up and told them I was never told of it. This is simply cheating. Do we have any customer care service in Pakistan where we can register this cheating of PTCL? Do we have any justice in this country? Do the customers have any rights at all? PTCL cheated me with an extra Rs1000 without informing me prior to implementing it. Shame on you PTCL.


  • Sep 19, 2011 - 8:17PM

    That is more than a month old news. And there are bandwidth caps even in America and Pakistan should have them too. But 50Gb is definitely low, should be 200Gb or 250Gb.


  • Junaid Chughtai
    Sep 19, 2011 - 8:20PM

    I got the same surprise. Billing of Rs 1000 extra without any prior information. Talk about professionalism and consumer rights.
    p.s: the comments on this post are going so off the topic and disgustingly nobody has a clue about what they’re talking about


  • Talha Basit
    Sep 19, 2011 - 8:23PM

    Bad news poor student will not get their studies due to high price of student package. It rise from 880 to 920 per month. First we bought it for 850/month but it now increase the rate. I like to request PTCL that the rate of student package will remain same as 850/month. So the student may easily completed the studies.


  • Zain
    Sep 19, 2011 - 8:27PM

    This is nothing new. Apparently, PTCL also indulges in defrauding its helpless customers from time to time because it knows they have no possible legal recourse. They have charged my home broadband connection for 2Mb/s for a month while giving me an actual router speed of 1Mb/s. I had applied for an upgrade to my 1Mb student package to the 2Mb “Doubly Play” package that was introduced during Ramadan. After daily haggling over the status of my upgrade, they silently upgraded my tariff to 2Mb/s on the 29th of August without bothering to update my router ports which remained on 1Mb/s. This meant that although I would be paying for a 2Mb package, my highest possible download speed was limited to 1Mb, as per my old package, by PTCL.

    I called them every single working day from the 3rd of September to the 10th and every day they lied (for lack of a better word) that the problem would be resolved in the next 24 hours. The height of their dishonesty can be gauged from the fact that once (on my fifth complaint) my logged problem was given a status of “resolved” by them without their even checking with me (as is their standard procedure) if the issue had actually been resolved (it hadn’t). Frustrated in my attempts to get any real “help” from the PTCL technicians that man their “help”-lines, I requested a downgrade to my old package. Now PTCL informs me that I’ll have to pay for the 2Mb package all the same, even if I didn’t get that service or risk getting my phone disconnected. What kind of crude arm-twisting is this? I’m not aware of the specific laws regulating business practices in Pakistan but I’m pretty sure charging customers for services they aren’t receiving, due to the incompetence of the providing company, amounts to fraud – plain and simple. Is anybody in PTCL customer “services” even remotely bothered by what its customers face daily?


  • faizan
    Sep 19, 2011 - 8:43PM

    this is not done ithink ptcl must consider up the decission once again they will lose popularity along with users……….unlimited packege was the only attraction in ptcl…but now it has gone… what is the meaning of still backing up ptcl with our money


  • PTCL Representative
    Sep 19, 2011 - 9:55PM


    I am AM data services in PTCL.Cap is only introduced in packages above 2MB to discourage people converting them them in cable net service connection.This cap is temporary and it will be removed soon.Dont worry PTCL have enough bandwidth for everyone and BTW Ali will get another surprise soon when he will be getting double the bandwidth he is now getting on same monthly charges.

    Anymore questions and complaints are welcome.



  • the ranjha
    Sep 19, 2011 - 10:08PM

    I use 1mbps anyway. Plus even if i ever had the 4+ mbps packages I would never ever reach 50 GB ever. And since i’d be able to afford Rs.2000 for broadband a 1,000 wouldn’t matter since I’d be getting good (not great) quality broadband in a third world country.


  • ajklodhi
    Sep 19, 2011 - 10:28PM

    Well PTCL sell off contract has certain clauses in its fold that bar a perfect competetor this was what Musharraf and co had done to satisfy the bidder at the time of the privatisation. Arrange a competetor and you will get 1mb for hundered rupees sure.You are enjoying the mobile service and you will enjoy the internet service. And thank you for innitiating this dicourse it must end at an end.


  • Adeel.
    Sep 19, 2011 - 10:44PM

    I’ll switch to other companies which is still offering Good service with unlimited Downloads..

    Suggest please which should be good service


  • Adeel.
    Sep 19, 2011 - 11:00PM

    To Mr. Representative

    Let me tell you that I’ll give 2 more connection out of my connection to cover your extra charges …

    I’ll wait 1 month then other Companies still offering unlimited

    Shame they are under you but still offering better Packages .. and Please look the above comments and feel the heat from you customer over to your Bad Supports.. :-s


  • Ubaid
    Sep 19, 2011 - 11:01PM

    @PTCL Representative:

    The point was the unethical behaviour of the company. Also, how can you verify your claims about the double speed and bandwidth?. I’m a 6mbps user and I’m heavily put off by this levy, which I came to know about ‘accidentally’ I might add by a friend’s status message on Fb. Otherwise, I too would have been unpleasantly surprised.


  • Jibran
    Sep 19, 2011 - 11:28PM

    @ptcl representative – I wish you are correct, but with this kind of unprofessional attitude of ptcl, I doubt your every word. Ptcl should refund the extra charges to all customers for august if they want their credibility to improve in the eyes of the customers!


  • Ali
    Sep 19, 2011 - 11:44PM

    Am I the only one who Is getting 137 Kbps on 1 mb student package eh…


  • abc
    Sep 20, 2011 - 12:42AM

    Yeah, ban porn and increase sexual harassment. I don’t care how many sins other people commit as long as I’m safe when i leave my chaar diwari.


  • Usama
    Sep 20, 2011 - 1:14AM

    Cant anyone sue compamy for dat ?


  • atif
    Sep 20, 2011 - 1:31AM

    The main problem in my view is that RATES WERE INCREASED WITHOUT INFORMING THE CUSTOMER. PTCL did not inform the public at large that it was increasing rates of its broadband services. The new rates were applicable since August 1st, 2011 whereas PTCL only listed the new rates on its website just recently. There was no newspaper notification, email, website update, advertisement, etc to inform customers about the change. I am really disappointed…extremely poor customer service and monopolistic exploitation!


  • Anxious
    Sep 20, 2011 - 7:02AM

    Hi guys!
    every one is claims PTCL broadband sucks but guys how can i forget few years back dial-up connections wait an hour to download one mp3 song :(, which was lot more costly with bunch of calls dialy bcz of disconnecting + irritation, im not ptcl representative here but we should thank God ptcl was privatized and new parnter add new ideas, team, investors.


  • Fawad Shah
    Sep 20, 2011 - 7:15AM

    What is everyone talking about? The rates are not under discussion over here. It’s the way they have changed their rates without informing their users which is objectionable. I was told I will be using unlimited internet at 2000 Rs and then suddenly I get a bill of 3000. When I ask them what happened, they tell me rates changed a month ago. This is simple CHEATING. Do we have any consumer courts in Pakistan? I would like to sue them there.


  • Bilal A
    Sep 20, 2011 - 9:52AM

    Netflix recently increased tariff without informing subscribers and lost a million customers. CEO recent wrote an apology to all members. I wish we have some ethical practices in Pakistan as well.

    If PTCL was to remove the unlimited package they should have sent notices in months ad ace to it’s members.


  • Clifton
    Sep 20, 2011 - 2:39PM

    HHAHA I love how people on this forum are calling this cheating and monopolistic. These are the same ones that were cheering PTCL in as it killed off or gobbled up the smaller players Maxcom , LDN, Cyber, Micronet, WOL, Dancom with its monopolistic practises.

    Servers all your moaners right. These were PTCLs short term moves for long term profit. Wait and see them destroy the other players by abusing its dominance in DSL (it is the only fixed line operator). Nobody can stop PTCL, not even the PTA. The PTA tried to apply Significant Market Player to it but the expert PTCL lawyer even had that blocked in the courts.

    PTCL is going to come and get you (and then raise prices). hahaha hahaha this is the monster you cheered on…


  • Sep 20, 2011 - 3:35PM

    oohhh… and what about 1 Mb packakge?
    and thoese who have shared with their neighbours??
    They should have avertized…. Cant they be sued???


  • umair
    Sep 20, 2011 - 5:16PM

    Actually PTCL Management is getting use to these practices. If you remember, in not too distant past they turned on various so called “Value Added Services” for their land line customers with out even informing them. Services like “call waiting”, not to mention that these services were actually CHARGED services. A lot customers got surprised by their next month bill when they saw charges for extra services they never requested. And then customers have to call PTCL help line to complain, they were told to call xxx number to shut it down and hence PTCL successfully charged for at least 2 months for the fastest responding customer, though there were some who remain stuck in this vicious circle for next 6 or so months and kept paying for things they never requested. Clearly un-ethical policy, should be called CHEATING actually.

    So yes this is a clear cut monopolistic exploitation. Which is why monopoly can be dangerous. PTCL also knows that their tariffs are still low so it is highly unlikely that their DSL customers will shift to another provider. Until unless people take this on their nerves and leave the service in rebellion.

    Although we have an organization for consumer right commissions in pakistan, but like other govt. institution I am not sure how much effective they are. But I think it won’t hurt much if all of us at least file a complain.

    But one way or another this can not be resolved until PTCL got pressure from somewhere, weather it be due to exponential increase in unsatisfied customers leaving PTCL for another provider or from some regulatory authority.


  • Ramis
    Sep 20, 2011 - 5:45PM

    50GB limit is not fair. When you spend 2000 rupees per month in a 4mbps connection then surely you don’t use it for checking emails … you download music and hi-def movies – and 50GB is reached in a jiffy. True, that illegal sharing of the connection should be discouraged, but it can easily be spotted if PTCL workers show a little bit of diligence.

    Hers’s a software utility that’s excellent for monitoring your bandwidth and usage:

    Free for 30 days – $10 to buy


  • Bangash
    Sep 20, 2011 - 11:45PM

    50GB is gigantic man. I think this PTCL policy is fair. All those Pakistanis who clog the network downloading porn will be unhappy though.


  • Zain Kamran
    Sep 21, 2011 - 1:33AM

    sir, my neighbour had the same student connection and he gets 500-650 kb/s !
    whereas i used to get 100-124 kb/s ..
    now whats this ?
    i never complained ptcl about this because that neighbor is my friend.
    overall pathetic service and assistance from ptcl.. wireless dsl is the best thing.


  • Najam
    Oct 17, 2011 - 10:51PM

    Dear Frnds,
    Now the services of ptc DSL is very pooooooooooooooooor.


  • Maaz
    Nov 10, 2011 - 7:43PM

    wat has democracy to do with it?
    Mushi didnt do anything about it either,did he?
    then again u hate Pakistan thats why u hate democracy.


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