IT Ministry, USF directed to speed up development work -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

IT Ministry, USF directed to speed up development work

By Ijaz Kakakhel

ISLAMABAD: The Senate sub-committee on Information Technology on Friday directed the Ministry of IT and Universal Service Fund (USF) to speed up work on different developmental projects after clearance from the committee.

Chairman of the sub-committee Moula Bakhsh Chandio however warned that the committee would stop work if it finds any violation of rules. He said the committee thoroughly studied the concerns raised by senators but nothing has been proved–that is why the committee wanted to precede the work on different projects relating to distribution of optical fiber without any delay.

Chandio said the committee does not want to delay a project but transparency should be ensured. “Information technology is the need of the hour and the country badly needs its expansion,” he said and stressed speedy work on fiber optic distribution across the country.

Secretary M/O Information Technology Saeed Ahmad Khan informed the committee that the ministry took seven weeks to dig out any corruption in awarding bidding to any company but found nothing.

Chairman of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Dr Mohammed Yaseen briefed the committee about three types of licenses under which optical fiber could be laid in the country, namely, Long Distance & International (LDI) for nationwide operations, Local Loop (LL) for region wise operation (total 14 regions), and Infrastructure License (IL) for nationwide.

The Regulator chief said that the PTA has issued 14 LDI licenses so far. As per the LDI license, the companies can have their own or leased transmission facility. So for three companies they have laid their own nationwide optical fiber and the remaining operators have leased transmission facility. Additionally, PTCL, NTC and SCO have integrated license, which allows them to provide such facility.

Local Loop (LL): The PTA chairman further said so far 84 licenses have been issued. Under LL license, companies can have the transmission facility within the licensed region but they need to lease in case traffic is routed outside the region.

Infrastructure License: Dr Yaseen told the committee that in 2005-06, the ministry of IT issued a policy directive for issuance of infrastructure license. Such license allows establishment of a passive infrastructure to be leased by other operations for service provision.

PTA chairman also informed the committee that the regulator received 25 applications for LDI licenses (23 in 2004 and 2 application in 2005). Out of the total 25 applicants, 14 operators were granted LDI licenses. Of the 11 remaining, 3 were rejected due to non-payment of license fee, 2 rejected due to security clearance and the rest 6 operators opted out. At present, only 13 LDI operators are operational, he maintained.

Answering a question, PTA chairman said if any mobile company could not pay funds to PTA, the regulator issued a show cause notice and if they again failed to pay then their license would be cancelled. Against the cancellation decision, the companies usually went to court and took stay order. He also said that 2% penalty was also imposed over delay payment by the mobile companies.

About utilisation of USF fund in Balochistan, PTA chairman said the government could not achieve desired result in that particular province. The bids for Balochistan were advertised some times ago, but the operators could not take any interest and no one came forward.

“The government was ready to provide 92 percent subsidy over developmental work in Balochistan–but no one came forward,” he said.
Source: Daily Times