Pakistan Railways Hikes Fiber Broadband Track Crossing Fees

Web DeskDecember 21, 2023
Pakistan Railways Hikes Fiber Broadband Track Crossing Fees

Pakistan Railways has made a significant leap in the Right of Way (ROW) charges for a single-track crossing, now standing at a substantial Rs. 3.8 million over five years.

This development coincides with the announcement by the Caretaker Federal IT Minister, Dr. Umar Saif, indicating forthcoming reforms in telecom policies. The aim is to reduce ROW charges for fiber broadband, propelling the nation towards a digital transformation.

Historically, telecom operators installing fiber broadband were required to pay Rs. 100,000 per track crossing over a decade. However, the expanding landscape of fiber broadband presented an opportunity for Pakistan Railways to increase revenue through ROW charges, elevating the fee to Rs. 2.7 million for a 5-year duration back in 2007.

Regulations dictate that the ROW fee should maintain a “no profit no loss” basis, avoiding revenue generation for public authorities. In a move to support fiber broadband—a long-standing plea from telecom operators—the PTI-led government in 2022 reduced crossing charges to Rs. 600,000 per crossing, payable for a lifetime.

Read more:PTCL reports 188% profit increase in Q1 of 2023

Unfortunately, the policy shift occurred when the PDM government withdrew the initiative in May 2023. On December 12, 2023, Pakistan Railways announced a steep escalation in track crossing charges specifically for telecom operators, reaching Rs. 3.8 million for five years, while cable TV operators continued paying a nominal Rs. 100 annually. This decision was rooted in the perception that telecom operators yield higher profits, justifying significantly elevated charges compared to cable TV operators.

This move drew sharp criticism from Wahaj Siraj, Vice Chairman of the Telecom Operators Association of Pakistan, who condemned the exorbitant fee as obstructing broadband investment, potentially regressing the country technologically. Such actions have raised concerns within the telecom industry, especially amid ongoing reforms initiated by the Special Facilitation Investment Council (SIFC), aimed at strengthening the IT and telecom sector under the leadership of the Prime Minister of Pakistan and the Chief of Army Staff

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