Pakistan’s Special Communications Organization (SCO) and incumbent operator, PTCL have entered in a contract to deploy fiber optic cables in the country’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas. It is estimated that more than 600 Kms of fiber optic cables are required to implement the project that would provide basic telephone and data services to the region.
The SCO is a public sector organization operated by the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication and maintained by the Pakistan Army due to the geographical and political characteristics of the regions that the organization serves. The SCO is responsible for providing the telecommunication needs to a population of 4.5 Million spread over approx. 85,800 sqkm consisting of the mountainous terrains of occupied/Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan. SCO focused equally on urban and rural areas development providing telecom services to both public and private sector. It has a unique distinction of providing all brands of telecom services from voice to data under one platform.
SCO has the largest fixed-line network in occupied/Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan. SCO is also the largest backbone service provider in Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan having more than 1600 kilometers of optical fiber in the region. In addition to the wired fixed line services, SCO is also providing CDMA services (SCO CDMA). It is also providing cellular mobile service under the brand name of SCOM. SCOM is the first ever GSM service of Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan. DSL and Dial-up Internet services are provided under the brand name of SNET.
Over the period of time, SCO has developed massive IT & Telecom infrastructure including the installation of over 2500 kilometer optical fiber cable network across the entire length and breadth of the area. Today, SCO stands the largest telecom network/service provider equally focusing on urban and rural areas development. SCO is providing telecom services to both public and private sector (the general populace) in Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan region. It has a unique distinction of providing all brands of telecom services from voice to data under one platform.
The Federally Administered Tribal Areas(FATA) was a semi-autonomous tribal region in northwestern Pakistan that existed from 1947 until being merged with neighboring province Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in 2018. It consisted of seven tribal agencies (districts) and six frontier regions and were directly governed by Pakistan’s federal government. It bordered Pakistan’s provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan to the east and south, and Afghanistan’s provinces of Kunar, Nangarhar, Paktia, Khost and Paktika to the west and north. The territory is almost exclusively inhabited by the Pashtun, who also live in the neighboring provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Northern Balochistan, and straddle across the border into Afghanistan.
A contract signing ceremony between the SCO and PTCL was held in Head Quarter Special Communications Organization, Rawalpindi. After a successful operation by Pakistan Army to stabilized peace in the region coupled with the merger of FATA and Khyber Pakhtoonkha, Government of Pakistan has initiated this project of laying more than 600 kms of optical fiber cable in FATA under Universal Services Fund (USF) Program. SCO and PTCL will jointly undertake the fiber deployment project.
Connecting the tribal areas with the rest of Pakistan will play an important role in socio-economic uplift of the region by bringing modern ICT services to the people in the region.