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Mobile signals remain suspended even beyond Red Zone

Updated August 14, 2014


Pakistani soldiers prepare to roll out barbed wire from a vehicle as they patrol in a 'red zone' area of Islamabad on August 13, 2014. — Photo by AFP
Pakistani soldiers prepare to roll out barbed wire from a vehicle as they patrol in a 'red zone' area of Islamabad on August 13, 2014. — Photo by AFP

ISLAMABAD: It was not just the Red Zone, but residents in adjacent sectors also remained without cellular services on Thursday.

Sabah Hassan, who lives in Sector G-6 near the old Covered Market, could not make calls or use internet on her mobile set for the whole day.

“We have been without cellular service since last night,” said Sabah Hassan, who works in a cellphone company.

Mobile phones signals in sectors F-6, G-5 and G-6 have not been working since Wednesday when Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) suspended mobile and internet services in Red Zone.

Services were suspended in areas of Presidency and Convention Centre, from Margalla Road to Kashmir Chowk and China Chowk and as far as Quaid-i-Azam University.

Citizens living in sectors F-6, G-5 and G-6 remain disconnected

Asfandyar Khan, who lives near Kohsar Market in F-6/3, also felt cut off from the world in the absence of mobile-internet service.

“I was getting intermittent mobile signals,” he added.

Similarly, Kamran Mubashir, an information technology (IT) professional who works from home near Farooqia Market in Sector F-6/1, could not use his cellphone throughout the day. Other residents in Islamabad said as soon as they left Super Market in Sector F-6, they started receiving mobile phone signals.

Another resident who was meeting some guests at Islamabad Club also complained of facing difficulty in getting connected with friends through his mobile phone.

A source in the PTA explained that people moving in proximity to Red Zone lost connections if the nearest telephone tower was situated in Red Zone and was turned off.

He said the government had not given a timeframe as to when it would resume mobile services.

Representatives of mobile companies said they had been instructed by the government to turn off towers installed outside Red Zone so that signals were not available in the restricted area.

“That is why the mobile phone services in sectors F-6 and G-6 remained suspended,” said an official of Mobilink.

Another official in Zong mobile company could not confirm how many Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) were switched off.

“Mobile companies have their own specific BTS installed over buildings and plazas in the area and are also sharing towers with other cellular companies,” said the official.

Suspension of mobile services came two days ahead of anti-government marches led by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Tahirul Qadri.

Published in Dawn, August 14th, 2014