Chairman Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Dr. Mohammed Yaseen called on Prime Minister Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Chaudhary Abdul Majeed to discuss the progress of telecommunication sector at AJK in general and Neelum Valley in particular. The Chairman informed that during the earthquake of 2005, the cellular companies of Pakistan were given special permission to provide telecommunication facilities at affected areas of AJK to facilitate search, rescue and relief operations. The efforts of the companies were appreciated at every level and it was decided by the AJK Council to regularize their presence by adopting PTA as the regulatory body.
PTA awarded Cellular Mobile, Fixed Local Loop, Wireless Local Loop and Long Distance and International licenses to various operators, in addition to SCO which was already providing telecommunication services. The deregulation of the telecom sector brought about a revolutionary change which saw huge increase in subscriber base, teledensity and coverage area. The licensed operators are depositing some portion of their earnings with AJ&K Government in Universal Service Fund (USF). The USF can only be utilized in provision of telecom services to un-served areas of AJ&K.
Though rest of the people of AJK are enjoying state of the art telecommunication facilities at very competitive rates, the population of Neelum Valley is deprived of the same due to certain reason, security being the major one. In order to address the issue PTA initiated Cellular Village Connection Trial (CVCT) project at Attmuqam. The equipment was provided to SCO free of cost through efforts of PTA. SCO successfully launched the project which is not only providing cellular services to the people but also catering for the needs of the defense organizations.
Chairman PTA apprised the PM that in order to extend the project up to Taobat, the last town of Neelum Valley, and the amount available with AJ&K Government in USF may be utilized. At present about 1.96 billion Rupees have been deposited by the telecom operators as USF for AJK which is more than sufficient to provide telecom coverage to all the important towns of the Neelum Valley.
The Prime Minister appreciated the efforts of PTA for promoting telecommunication facilities at AJK. He also expressed deep desire to bridge the digital divide between Neelum Valley and rest of the world. The PM assured that no stone would be left unturned to utilize the USF for expansion of CVCT project to entire Neelum Valley.