Court has allowed the Special Communications Organization (SCO) to start 3G/4G mobile services on trial basis in Gilgit Baltistan (GB), the court upholds the telecom regulatory body’s decision to allow other private operators to launch their services in the region.
A petition filed by SCO, the telecommunication wing of Army, for hearing the issued notices to the respondents in order to submit their comments in a month. A two-judge bench of GB Chief Court has admitted the petition filed by SCO.
The petition which could be found with Dawn was filed on April 18 under Article 71 of GB Empowerment and Self-governance Order 2009, which challenged the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority’s (PTAs) decision to issue licenses to cellular networks for launching 3G and 4G services in the mountainous region of GB.
Zong has already announced to launch 3G and 4G services in GB from May 5 after acquiring the license from PTA. The SCO has total control over communication services in GB and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).
The petitioner argued that the licenses issued to private telecom operators for launching 3G/4G services was “unlawful authority”. The auction of 3G/4G spectrum in GB was initiated by PTA to restrain ongoing services on trial basis being delivered by the petitioner, it maintained.
However, the court directed the parties to standby till the final disposal of the petition. Users have been complaining about the SCO’s poor quality and speed for mobile service in the region. GB residents have demanded to allow other cellular companies to operate in the region so they can be benefitted from the quality services that they need.
The SCO claims that they had an annual loss of Rs1 billion due to limited powers in providing telecom services in AJK and GB, however, the government meets it’s all financial needs to ensure its smooth operations.
The SCO takes 80 percent of the IT ministry’s budget every financial year according to an official from the ministry. The SCO has been interested in the free license, tax exemption on its sales, assets, customs duties, imports, exports, and income as well as continued financial support from the government. The organization was established in 1976 to develop, maintain and operate telecommunication services in GB and AJK, SCO currently provides services in 85 locations of GB and 141 locations of AJK.