The federal government has decided to extend 3G and 4G internet services to Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) during the ongoing calendar year (2016).
Chaudhry Barjees Tahir, Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan, said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has issued special directives for the early launch of 3G/4G services in AJK and GB.
The launch of 3G/4G internet facility in the two regions was discussed during a high-level meeting last week, which was also attended by the Director General Special Communication Organization (SCO). For further deliberations and providing necessary facilities before the launch of 3G/4G services, concerned officials — including DG SCO — would meet again on February 18, the minister disclosed.
The minister said that Planning Commission Thursday approved the PC-1 “replacement of GSM Network of AJ&K” worth Rs 1,450 million, and the required money would be issued soon.
Barjees Tahir further said that it has been decided to meet other financial requirements for upgrading the network from the Universal Service Fund (USF) of AJK & GB.
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), on the request from AJ&K and GB Council, has already decided to auction spectrum for 3G/4G services in AJ&K and GB, However with the existing GSM network of SCO, it was not possible for the organization to upgrade its network to 3G and 4G.
SCO has about one million subscribers in AJK and is considered as a major stakeholder in the region.
GSM network of SCO completed its life in 2014, therefore, there was a dire need of technology and capacity enhancement before the launch of 3G/4G services. After getting the required funds for replacement of GSM Network of SCO, a major hurdle in the launch of 3G and 4G services in AJK and GB has been cleared.
Owing to the absence of modern internet facilities in the AJK and GB, people of the two regions could not develop their skills in different sectors, especially education and health.
After the launch of 3G/4G services in Pakistan, the demand of these facilities increased manifold. The government has also directed the relevant authorities to complete legal requirements to extend the facility to GB and AJK, besides devising a mechanism for a fair and open auction of the 3G and 4G spectrum in AJK and GB.
Source: Pro Pakistani