Pakistan China Optic Fibre Cable to provide safest internet route: SCO

Pakistan China Optic Fibre Cable to provide safest internet route: SCO

ISLAMABAD - The $44 million Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) project directly connecting Pakistan and China would be completed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) by the end of current year and will provide the safest internet route to both countries, claimed the military-run Special Communication Organization (SCO).

The SCO has upgraded and replaced GSM network of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and is ready for launching 3G/4G services, said the SCO officials while briefing the National Assembly Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication. The committee met with Captain Muhammad Safdar (retd) in the chair here on Thursday.

The SCO officials revealed that they were waiting for Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to conduct spectrum (3G/4G) auction, after which 3G/4G services would be launched in AJ&K and GB.

China is providing 85 percent finances of the project while the rest 15 percent will be paid by the government of Pakistan. The project will become another high-speed international connection to cater to the rapidly growing internet traffic needs of both sides.

The task of laying 820km long cable between Rawalpindi and Khunjrab was given to the SCO and the physical deployment has been completed.

When completed, this backhaul fiber optic cable will provide Pakistan with a direct telecom access to China, Central Asian States and from there to Europe and the United States.

The project would not only generate revenue but it would also provide a safest route of traffic between the two countries. A project to expand the fibre cable up to Gwadar – Phase-II of Pak-China Optical Fibre Cable Project Establishment of Cross-Border OFC Network (Khunjrab-Gwadar-Karachi) – is also proposed and PC-1 has been submitted to the IT Ministry to provide international linkage along the entire CPEC route.

The project was also endorsed by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as well as the sitting Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, however the IT Ministry said there is some legal issue and SCO cannot operate in the whole country.

The matter is pending before the Prime Minister and any decision at the highest level would be implemented.

The representatives from the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication and its attached departments/organizations briefed the committee on ongoing and new proposed projects under the PSDP for the financial year 2018-19.

The committee approved Rs 9.787 billion budgetary proposals under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for the fiscal year 2018-19 against Rs 1.538 billion earmarked for the current financial year.

The total proposed layout of PSDP for fiscal year 2018-19 is amounting to Rs 9.787 billion against 15 schemes relating to IT & telecom sectors including six ongoing and nine new projects. Major chunk of the proposed PSDP ie around 80 percent would go to the SCO.

The new schemes included implementation of PECA 2016 and SRO 904 (I) 2017 for DIRBS (AJ&K and GB-SCO) with proposed allocation of Rs 210 million, broadband internet services expansion with Rs 740 million (Rs 288 million for 2018-19) in AJ&K and all areas of GB (SCO), replacement of 15 years old/ redundant outside plant in AJ&K (SCO) with Rs 59 million, replacement of 15 years old/redundant outside plant in GB (SCO) with Rs 59 million, Digital transformation cell (MoITT) with proposed allocation of Rs 20 million, business continuity management (PSEB) with Rs 30 million, establishment of QA Lab for software products in PSEB with Rs 36 million, purchase of land for establishment of technology parks in Lahore, Quetta, Peshawar and GB (PSEB) with Rs 5 million (2018-19), and smart office (NITB) with Rs 55 million.

The committee directed that all heads of the cellular companies must attend the next committee meeting and brief the committee about the status of their issued cell phone SIM cards, working internet 3G & 4G service and installed antenna towers across the country.

The committee listened the alleged audio tape regarding supply of Rs 50 million to Labbaik Ya Rasool Ullah leader, who staged Faizabad sit-in. The committee showed its grievances on such type of discussion which is viral on social media.

The committee directed Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication to investigate the matter through FIA, PTA and IB and submit its detailed report within 10 days.