ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has allowed the mobile phone operators to restore internet services in several areas of Balochistan and Khyber district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as the security situation has improved there.
After review of security situation by the departments concerned, the ministry of interior has cleared Turbat city, Kech, Awaran, Panjgur, Washuk and Kalat along the highways including Regional Cooperation for Development Highway, N-30, N-85 and Awaran-Bela Road for internet connectivity.
The Khyber district (formerly known as Khyber Agency) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been cleared, where the internet services and even basic telephony were suspended in certain areas including Tirah Valley in the past.
The ministry of information technology had earlier written a letter to the interior ministry that it was the government’s vision to provide internet services across the country, and the “force majeure” clause may be lifted from areas that were not under the severe threats of law and order or terror attacks.
A senior official of the Ministry of Information Technology said there was serious pressure for the restoration of data services in these areas amid Covid-19 lockdowns mainly from the students who had to leave their studies in urban areas.
“Besides, the data is becoming a basic mode of communication for the health and even commerce needs,” the official added.
After receiving the clearance from the interior ministry the PTA has issued instructions to the telecom operators to restoration of internet services in Khyber district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and various areas of certain districts of Balochistan.
The Cellular Mobile Operators (CMOs) had been operating only the 2G service in most of these areas that covers basic voice transfer and SMS, and the systems were not upgraded as access to these areas were restricted.
The PTA has also advised the mobile operators to upgrade their existing infrastructure from 2G sites to 3G/4G wherever feasible and as per their business plan so that better voice and data services can be extended to residents of these areas.
The PTA has announced that the internet services will be restored and upgraded in other areas too in phased manner as the security clearances are received.
Published in Dawn, June 3rd, 2021