Govt to launch 4G Internet services in Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), in an agreement with Zong, Telenor Pakistan, and Ufone, has provided more spectrum to Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).
All three telecommunication service providers were successful bidders in the first-ever auction of additional spectrum for GB and AJK.
Representatives from all three mobile operators have asked the PTA and the Ministry of Information and Technology to ensure that the necessary backend amenity for fast and reliable 4G internet service is available in the region.
Khalid Khursheed, the GB chief minister, spoke at the occasion, saying that a lack of political will had delayed the province’s deployment of 3G and 4G services. However, similar services were launched in the rest of Pakistan in 2014.
“We heard everywhere that the Special Communications Organization (SCO) was resisting the launch of 3G and 4G in GB and the AJK. When we asked them about it, the answer was in the negative, and we were told that the PTA was not interested, but that too was incorrect,” Mr Khursheed said and further applauded Prime Minister Imran Khan and IT Minister Syed Aminul Haq for their effort in the spectrum initiation.
“Not only visiting tourists and the business community will benefit from the launch of 3G/4G services in GB and AJK, but the people will be able to avail e-education, e-health, e-learning, e-commerce etc., which will eventually uplift the overall economic and social standards,” the CM said.
The GB and the Azad Kashmir governments would each get up to Rs7 billion in royalty payments from the auction proceeds, which will be split 40:60 based on their population.
Meanwhile, the regional state-owned telecom service, SCO, founded in 1976 to connect the distant region with the rest of the country, has been given 20 megahertz of spectrum free of charge because all of its profits are put in the divisible pool.
While the SCO had exclusive rights to run telecom services in the territory, after the disastrous 2004 earthquake, all private sector mobile carriers were allowed to operate in GB and AJK.
Telenor Pakistan’s chief cooperation affairs officer, Kamal Ahmed, who has the region’s largest market share, has urged the PTA to build an optical fibre network in the region if the benefits of connection are realized.
Meanwhile, PTA officials said that customer protection terms were added to the agreement for extra spectrum, including increasing internet speed to 1 megabit per second (Mbps) for 3G and 4mbps for 4G services.
Furthermore, an additional spectrum will be divided evenly throughout GB and AJK’s rural and urban areas. PTA has already given 45 licences to various enterprises in the region to establish optical fibres and other services.
Federal Secretary IT & Telecommunication Dr Suhail Rajput, Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan, Ali Amin Khan Gandapur, PTA Chairman retired Maj Gen Amir Azeem Bajwa, CEO of Zong Wang Hua, and interim CEO of Ufone Nadeem Khan spoke on the instance.