PTA launches ‘national roaming’ project for automatic switching between networks

Nov 12, 2021: The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has started work on a national roaming project under which SIMs of a cellular network can be automatically transferred to another network if any of the original networks signals in a region is not available.

National roaming, as it is called, will benefit rural areas with poor network availability. It is to be launched in the first phase in the sparsely populated province of Balochistan. PTA officials say that in the next phase, national roaming will be introduced on motorways and highways.

Most of the population of Balochistan lives in remote areas and mobile companies have difficulty in covering this sprawling population.

At the direction of the PTA, the mobile phone operators have formed a joint technical team that will prepare a report within a month.

The team will review traffic trends and systems, officials said. According to PTA officials, no additional charges will be levied for the use of this service. The billing procedure will be decided by the mobile phone companies among themselves.

National roaming is very different from the nationwide roaming that the cellular company offers to its customers. National roaming allows multiple cellular network operators to use the same infrastructure. Network A subscribers are allowed to connect to the cellular tower installed by the Network B operator.

The concept of national roaming has been under discussion in Pakistan for almost a year now. Reports say the industry’s biggest players have already discussed some terms and conditions.

At least two cellular companies already have national roaming arrangements to the extent of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). Ufone and SCO, a company providing cellular services in GB and AJK, have an agreement that allows Ufone users to stay connected while living in these two regions.

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