September 28, 2007

PTA deposits Rs 1.2 billion with AJ&K Council and NAs Secretariat

Islamabad: Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has deposited Rs. 1.2 billion with the AJ&K Council Secretariat and NAs Secretariat on account of Initial License Fee (ILF) collected from 4 mobile operators to whom licenses were issued for AJ&K and NAs.

In the wake of October 8 earthquake PTA granted temporary permission to mobile phone companies operating in Pakistan for provision of services in quake-hit areas. Later on, they were invited to obtain permanent licenses for Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJ&K) and Northern Areas (NAs) against the ILF of US$  10 million each. Subsequently 4 mobile companies M/s Mobilink, M/s Ufone, M/s Warid and M/s Telenor acquired licenses by paying 50% of the license fee (US$ 5 million) each upfront as per the terms of the payment.

US$ 20 million (Rs 1.2 billion) collected by PTA from four operators has been deposited with the AJ&K Council Secretariat and Chief Secretary, NAs in the ratio of 77:23 based on the population of the two areas. Their share was Rs. 927.696 million and Rs. 277.104 million respectively. In view of special circumstances, PTA has not deducted any fee from the amount.

The fifth mobile license for AJ&K and NAs has recently been issued to CMPak (Paktel) for which the fees would be deposited under the same arrangements. All five mobile companies will pay remaining 50 percent (i.e. US$ 5 million each) in 10 equal annual installment.

It may be mentioned that, with the introduction of mobile phone services people of these areas are getting enhanced communication facilities. So far one million cellular mobile connections have been provided by cellular operators in AJK&NAs.  Mobile service is available in areas  of AJ&K including Bagh, Bhimber, Bharhing, Kotli, Muzzafferabad, Palandri, Rawalakot, Mirpur, Dhirkot, Ghari Duppatta, Hattian Bala, Dhudyal, Barnala, Kakra, Islam Gargh, Dirkot, Chamankot, Baloch, Sehnsa, KhuiRatta, Hajira, Tarar Khel, Abbas Pur, Jaraee, Rajdhani. Thraowchi, Puna, Sumani, Charoi, Fatepur, Barnala, Paniola, etc. In Northern Areas Gilgit, Hunza, Chilas, Skardu, Shigar, Danyor have been provided mobile services.

Moreover, Special Communication Organization (SCO) which was the major provider of telecom services in the region till very recent is working on its several developmental activities including Rural Telecom Uplift Project Phase II for provision of 80,000 telephone lines (along with 266 km Optic Fiber), enhancement of GSM capacity by 65,000 lines, laying of 570 km Optic Fiber, 26 digital exchanges with VSAT connectivity and laying of Outside Plant (OSP) in NAs. SCO is also planning to lay Optical Fiber Cable link for International Connectivity between China and Pakistan.

Chairman PTA Major Gen (Retd) Shahzada Alam Malik has hoped that Cellular Mobile sector of AJ&K and NAs will grow further in coming years as all the mobile operators are planning to expand their networks and develop their infrastructure in the region.

He said that after the earthquake of 8th October 2005 PTA responded swiftly and granted a temporary permission to all mobile operators to start their services in the area immediately. He said that keeping in view the rising demand of the region, for advanced telecom facilities, PTA initiated the liberalization of telecom sector after the mutual decision of the Governments of Pakistan and AJ&K. Licensing for Cellular Mobile took place in June 2006. Licensing for Fixed Line and Wireless Local Loop is also underway, he added.


(Khurram Ali Mehran)

Deputy Director (PR)