By Ahsan Kamal
Special Communication Organization has monopolized internet in Gilgit-Baltistan since the very beginning. Despite of knowing all the facts, no one is going to stand against the monopoly.
The ex-Chief Minister of GB Hafiz Hafeez ur rehman said in an interview that the reason behind poor internet quality in GB is a “Stay-Order” taken taken by SCO from the Chief Court. He further elaborated that SCO maintained in the past that as a federal institution all of its earnings go to the State, and they are not making any profits. They are not ready to participate in the bidding process, as it would cost them more. They are, however, now ready for the bidding [spectrum] because of the funds released by the then PM Nawaz sharif. These are the words of the former Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan.
It appears that any federal institution can try to act as a monopoly in Gilgit-Baltistan, citing the same reasons as SCO; by saying that all of their earnings go to the state and they can’t afford competition!
This is not an understandable approach, especially because their services are less than substandard. They are unable to provide the service that they promise to provide.
I have personally experienced many issues due to limited internet access in Gilgit-Baltistan. As a student, I was also having my online classes and I missed many of them due to the internet problem. And this story or fate is shared by thousands of pupils, not just me.
It is ironic that we have to struggle for basic facilities like internet and cellphone services. This while the world is testing and implementing 5th-generation (5G) internet technology. We, on the other hand, can’t even get a stable 2G services in this era and this age, despite of paying our dues!
As I mentioned earlier about the statement given by the ex CM, there has not been any improvement in the quality of services. In fact, the services have deteriorated, and frustrated subscribers have protested in almost all major towns and cities of Gilgit-Baltistan, against SCO’s poor services.
Telenor is operating at a limited scale but their services are also not good. They recently posted a statement to explain that they have been pushing the government to auction spectrum, to help them improve their services. No other company is operating in Gilgit-Baltistan at the moment.
It is a need of the hour for the youth of GB to raise their voice and demand basic facility of internet.We cannot dream of an educated and peaceful Gilgit-Baltistan without having access to stable and high quality internet services. All the youth and professionals of GB need to stand together to demand the basic facility.