No plan to grant countrywide operating licence to SCO: minister

Information Technology Minister Syed Amin ul Haq on Monday said there was no plan or proposal to grant operating licence to Special Communications Organization (SCO) across the country.

Talking to media persons at his office, the minister also said once new social media rules were notified and implemented by the ministry, the number of complaints to the cyber crime wing of FIA will decline as social media platforms will be compelled to take certain regulatory actions against violators.

“PUB-G and TikTok were also making money from Pakistan but they did not even have any representative in the country to listen to our concerns,” Syed Aminul Haq said and added that the new rules will be notified soon.

Regarding telecom service in GB the minister also clarified that there was no restrictions on telecom operators to expand their services in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Syed Aminul Haq said there were some proposals to expand the services of SCO in various parts of the country, in the past.

“But this government has no such plans and this Idea is not even under discussions,” the minister said adding that the focus of his ministry was on improving the telecom as well internet service.

He said during his meeting with the SCO director general Maj-Gen Ali Farhan he discussed the development programme in GB.

“The ministry was informed that there were 62 towers that were still operating at 2G, and the SCO would convert them to 3G and 4G during the next months, whereas around 92 towers along the Karakurram Highway would be upgraded to 3G and 4G,” he said.

Four cities of GB would soon have triple bundle from SCO that includes a package of TV, Internet and telephone connection in a single connection.

The minister said that the government had invested heavily in the IT and telecom sector in GB through the SCO, which will not only help uplift social and economic conditions of the people of GB but would facilitate activities related to CPEC also.

Established in 1976 to develop, operate and maintain all telecom services in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan, SCO is a public sector organisation under the Ministry of IT & Telecom.

Over the years, SCO has developed massive Information Technology & Telecom infrastructure including laying of over 4800 kilometers optical fiber cable network in that region.

“The ministry has already launched an IT park in GB, while AJK government has been asked to provide us the land to establish an IT park there too,” the minister added.

However, the minister rejected the general impression that the private sector telecom operators were not allowed to establish their network in GB.

Responding to a question in this regard, Syed Aminul Haq said that there was no restriction on any of the four cellular mobile companies including Jazz, Ufone, Telenor and Zong to commence operations there.

“But the companies were reluctant only due to limited commercial viability in that region,” the minister said.

Regarding extension of IT and telecom services in remote parts of the country, the ministry has already decided to hold the auction by the Universal Service Fund (USF) project in every 15 days.