The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has started work on a national roaming project which would allow SIMs from one cellular network to be automatically transferred to another network if no signal of the original network is available in a region.
National roaming, as it is called, would benefit rural areas with poor network availability issues. It is to be launched in the sparsely populated Balochistan province in the first phase.
PTA officials say that in the next phase national roaming will be introduced along the motorways and highways.
Most of the population of Balochistan lives in remote areas and mobile companies face difficulty in covering the this spread out 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, SAMAA TV reported on Friday citing officials.
The team would review traffic trends and systems, the officials said.
No additional charges will be levied for the use of this service, according to PTA officials. The billing procedure will be decided by the mobile phone companies among themselves.
What is national roaming?
National roaming is distinctly different from nationwide roaming a cellular company offers to its customers. National roaming allows multiple cellular network operators to use the same infrastructure. A subscriber of network A is allowed to connect to a cellular tower installed by a network B operator.
The concept of national roaming has been discussed in Pakistan for almost a year. Reports say major industry players have already discussed some terms and conditions.
At least two cellular companies already have a national roaming arrangement in place to the extent of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK). Ufone and SCO, the company offering cellular services in GB and AJK, have an agreement that allows Ufone subscribers to stay connected while in these two regions.