ISLAMABAD ( MEDIA REPORT )
The Senate Committee on Problems of Less Developed Areas was on Friday informed that the installation of cellular towers along the border areas was prohibited by the government.
“Under the law, cellular towers cannot be installed within 10 kilometres from the border,” CEO Universal Services Fund (USF) Faisal Sattar informed the committee at a meeting.
He said the government had also restricted mobile services within two kilometres from the border.
The chief of the USF, Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications, was responding to questions from senators who complained of no cellular services despite their recommendations to spread telephony in far-flung areas along the western parts of the country.
The senators complained that cities, towns and villages in Balochistan and KP were still being denied modern facilities such as telecommunication services.
The chairman of the committee, Sardar Mohammad Azam Khan Musakhel, and member Mohammad Usman Khan Kakar said the ministry of information technology and the USF seemed to be looking after the interests of cellular mobile operators.
Mr Musakhel alleged that corruption was rampant in the allotment of plot/space to install the telecom towers.
The committee met to inquire about alleged indiscipline in the site allocation and construction of telecom towers as well as implementation and the proper usage of the Universal Services Funds in less-developed areas. The USF promotes development of telecommunication services in un-served and under-served areas.
However, Faisal Sattar said it was imperative that the government reviewed its regulations if the telecom services were to be spread to settlements along the western border.
“There have been instances when law enforcement agencies asked mobile cellular companies to stop the installation of towers along border areas,” he said.
The meeting was informed that so far the USF had committed more than Rs20 billion to extend telephony to un-served and under-served areas in the country.
About Rs10 billion have already been released for various projects. Out of the 11 projects completed in remote locations, about five to six were launched under the present government.
The meeting was informed that for the districts of Zhob, Musakhel and Shirani in Balochistan, 88 telecom sites had been planned and being implemented. Another 99 sites are being installed in Sibi, Loralai and Qila Saifullah. In Kalat, 35 telecom sites will connect the residents. As many as 88 sites will be installed in Khuzdar. To extend telephony into Chaghi and Mashkhel, 29 sites have been planned.
According to Mr Sattar, security concerns were presenting some challenges in Dera Bugti.
Published in Dawn October 29th, 2016