Additional spectrum to be auctioned on 16th: IT minister

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Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Syed Aminul Haq has said that the auction of additional spectrum for the country is scheduled for Sept 16, however no new entrant has applied to participate within the auction.

He said that the IT ministry would launch a replacement social media platform for federal employees by the top of September, as a replacement of Whatsapp.

The minister was lecture the media at the sidelines of National Freelancing Conference 2021 held to get feedback over the draft National Freelancing Facilitation Policy from the stakeholders.

The minister said that the auction for extra spectrum in Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan region would be held within the last week of September, adding that it had been observed that the mobile companies were reluctant to enter the AJK and GB markets thanks to limited return on investments there.

About his recent meeting with the four mobile companies, he said: “The companies were clearly told that quite 70 per cent of their demands are met by the ministry. They were assured that each one their concerns would be addressed gradually but reciprocally they might need to participate within the free and fair bidding process.”

He said the mobile companies had been told to enhance their service quality across the country, otherwise the ministry would start issuing notices to them and imposing fines on them.

The minister said that federal employees had been barred by the establishment division from using social media platforms, but a replacement locally developed platform would be launched just for government employees by the top of this month.

“This platform having a country-based server is named ‘Beep’. it’ll offer text messages within the first phase, to be followed by voice and video transfers,” Mr Haq said, adding that Beep would be offered to the workers of provincial governments after a couple of months.

The minister acknowledged that he wasn’t conscious of any details of the recent cyberattack on the FBR’s data, because the bureau was maintaining its own data centre and wasn’t connected with the cyber security services of National Telecommunication Corporation.

The conference was organised by the Pakistan Software Export Board and attended by the country’s leading freelancers and IT professionals.

Addressing the conference, the minister said that the target of $3 billion had been set for the freelancers to usher in remittances from their export of IT services within the next three years.

“And we assure you to deal with all of your issues and take away all official hurdles you’re facing,” Mr Haq added.

The freelancers from remote and isolated parts of the country starting from interior Sindh and Balochistan to GB participated within the conference. consistent with them, three main issues faced by them are internet connectivity, receiving remittances and taxation problems.

“You are the longer term . IT freelancers are able to do what the governments cannot. you’ll work remotely from your homes and earn between $500 and $5,000 per month, and convey significant remittances that’s beneficial for the economy. I also urge women to return forward during this field,” the minister said.

Barkan Saeed, chairman of the Pakistan Software Houses Association, said that the country was facing serious shortage of skilled human resources and IT education institutes were providing relevant qualifications.

The conference was attended by IT Secretary Dr Sohail Rajput, Pakistan Software Export Board director Osman Nasir, Chief Executive of Ignite Shehryar Afridi and officials of the depository financial institution of Pakistan, FBR, finance ministry and commercial banks.

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