ISLAMABAD: To enhance the quality and outreach of mobile telephony as well as broadband services in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MoITT) on Thursday issued policy directives to the regulator for the auction of spectrum in the regions.
The government also approved additional spectrum for the state-owned telecom operator — Special Communications Organisation (SCO) — in AJK and GB.
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) is expected to issue the Information Memorandum (IM) after receiving the policy directive to all the five cellular operators in the region.
Currently, five operators are providing cellular mobile services in AJK and GB including the SCO, Jazz, Telenor, Zong and Ufone.
The SCO — a subsidiary of MoITT — was established in 1976 to develop, operate and maintain all telecom services in AJK and GB.
The government set the base price of $0.87 million for each megahertz (MHz) in 1,800 MHz and 2,100 MHz band, and 16 MHz spectrum in 1,800 MHz band and 30 MHz spectrum in the 2,100 MHz have been placed for auction to the four mobile operators for 15 years.
However, additional spectrum of 10 MHz in both the 1,800 MHz and 2,100 MHz bands has been approved for SCO.
The auction will be beneficial for the governments of both the regions as a significant amount out of the auction proceeds will be transferred to the AJK and GB Councils by the PTA.
The policy directive by the IT ministry said that a significant surge in the demand of mobile broadband services has been witnessed particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic. “This ever-increasing reliance on mobile broadband services necessitated the demand for availability of more spectrums to meet the connectivity needs of the citizens of AJK and GB,” the ministry said.
Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2021