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ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has issued International Mobile Roaming (IMR) Service Guidelines, 2024, for all cellular mobile operators (CMO) on Wednesday.

The PTA said that these guidelines to be called IMR Service Guidelines 2024 will be applicable to all the CMOs in Pakistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) from the date of issuance.

Under the guidelines, every operator shall ensure that IMR service is only activated on a SIM in response to a request received from a consumer through email, SMS, mobile application, USSD, helpline, etc and CMOs shall provide facilitation to their consumers for activation of IMR service, after receiving request either from within Pakistan or outside Pakistan.

Upon receipt of a written request for activation of IMR service within Pakistan, the same should be activated within four hours and in case of a request from a consumer residing outside Pakistan, activation of IMR service should be activated within 24 hours, after due verification (by asking CNIC details, etc).

According to the PTA, upon activation of IMR service, every operator shall provide the following information to consumers through SMS, email, USSD or mobile application, etc; (i) confirmation message that IMR service has been activated along with request/complaint number; (ii) applicable international carrier-wise IMR tariffs (voice, SMS and data services) and any other charges such as call setup charges etc, where applicable;(iii)details of international carriers (visiting country operators) including procedure for manual selection of international carrier; and (iv)list of actions/precautionary steps, including but not limited to the following, to avoid bill shocks while using IMR service before latching on an international carrier; (a) deactivation of mobile data service by the consumers; (b) unsubscribing pre-activated services which may result in bill shocks.

The IMR service shall be deactivated immediately upon receipt of service de-activation request from the consumer and every operator shall have a dedicated webpage for the provision of IMR service-related complete information on its website or any other medium of communication.

Every operator shall provide basic information about IMR service including tariffs in clear, unambiguous, accurate and conspicuous manner to consumer through a free personalized automatic message when consumer enters the visited country.

An operator shall latch its consumer on network of foreign carrier having lower/competitive tariff, in case of availability of more than one international roaming partners at a same destination and every operator shall establish or allocate a separate toll free USSD to enable consumer to seek, through SMS, while roaming internationally, the following information; (i) applicable tariff for IMR service; (ii) amount billed or charged to account of consumer for IMR service.

Additionally, every operator shall establish or allocate a dedicated toll free 2417 helpline for lodging international roaming-related complaints.

Furthermore, other modes/medium of communication such as Twitter, Facebook, mobile application, etc shall also be communicated to the consumers and in case of post-paid consumers, the operator shall clearly communicate the minimum amount of security deposit required for activation of IMR service.

However, the amount of security deposit can be enhanced by mutual agreement between the operator and consumer to avoid IMR service de-activation and/or bill shocks, every operator shall ensure that consumer gets free alerts of remaining usage after every call, SMS or data session and every operator shall, through email/SMS/USSD or mobile application, provide an additional alert to consumer when the usage exceeds fifty percentage, eighty percentage, ninety percentage and one hundred percentage of allocated security deposit. Upon reaching 100 per cent limit, IMR service shall be immediately blocked by the operator.

Every operator shall; (i) ensure that prices for IMR service shall be cost-based and not excessive in comparison with prices charged by similar operators for the same services; (ii) Introduce voice, SMS and/or data bundle offers for prepaid and post-paid consumers roaming internationally, beyond which voice and data roaming service should be blocked/stopped, unless written request/consent of the consumer has been obtained; (iii) monitor IMR service usage in real-time to avoid bill shock to consumer; (iv) provide consumers with information pertaining to emergency services in the visited country.

In exercise of its powers conferred under Section 6(f) of the Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-Organization) Act, 1996, read with License condition of Next Generation Mobile Services (NGMS) license, the PTA issues these guidelines in respect of IMR services.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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