ISLAMABAD ( BMZ REPORT )
In a landmark development regarding the future growth and development of the telecommunications sector, Ministry of IT has finalized the draft of the integrated ‘Telecommunications Policy 2015’ and has forwarded it to Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet for approval. This comes on the heels of a series of significant initiatives and achievements in the sector over the course of the previous year.
The Minister of State for IT while announcing the finalization of the draft at the industry dinner a couple of days ago had commented that ” The Integrated Telecommunications Policy will be a blueprint for the sector development for years to come with socio economic development at its heart and professional belief that this will mark a graduating step in the vibrant telecommunications sector of the country”. She further said that the overall vision of the new policy will be “Universally available, affordable and quality telecommunication services provided through open, competitive, and well managed markets and ubiquitously adopted to the benefit of the economy and society”.
The Telecommunication Sector of Pakistan was deregulated in 2003, and those policies were subject to review after five years of issuance, which unfortunately was not done during the term of the previous government. The review and integration of previous policies was incumbent due to emerging trends in telecommunication sector, changes in market character and its structure. Therefore, PMLN elected Government, after taking office, took up the review and integration of policies on highest priority basis.
Ministry of IT had during the last year engaged renowned international consultant firm with the help of the World Bank for assistance in the task in addition to commitment of human resource from the Ministry, PTA and FAB. Release of draft of the Policy for approval mark the culmination of the rigorous exercise spanning over a year. To ensure the element of inclusiveness, consultations with all relevant stakeholders were given foremost importance in the process through meetings, questionnaires, workshops etc. The draft was also published on Ministry’s website for public consultation.
The vision articulated in the draft policy is availability of universal, affordable and quality telecommunication services provided through open, competitive and well managed markets which can be used by people to the benefit of the economy and society. The draft policy treats all important areas of telecoms, Infrastructure, licensing, services and their ubiquitous adoption. Besides covering the issue arising out of the previous policy implementation the manuscript includes various new and innovative elements like provisions for a new competition framework satellite communication, spectrum strategy, market based spectrum management, Over the Top services, , convergence, communication security etc., which were not present in earlier policies. Appropriate realignment in the mandates and areas of focus of the Universal Service Fund and National ICT R&D Fund have also been made to support the “Accelerated Digitization” goal of the government for spurring socio-economic growth. Such an integrated version of the national telecoms policy has been attempted first time in the country’s history and its provisions are expected to catalyze proliferation of telecommunication networks and services across the country.
ECC will consider the draft of ‘Telecommunications Policy 2015’ under the provision of Section 8 of Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-organization) Act, 1996 (Amended 2006). The Minister in her message on the finalization of the draft thanked all public and private sector stakeholders who actively took part in this rigorous and all important exercise and reiterated her hope that the new policy will pass the test of all international benchmarks. She also thanked all her associates to have helped keeping the focus of this policy development work on highest priority and in the right direction