R&D Funds of Telecom Operators Reach Rs. 40 billion

The telecom operators’ funds for various research and developments (R&D) projects and schemes have reached Rs. 40 billion recently in the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication, reported Daily Times citing unnamed sources.

The funds are utilized by Universal Service Funds (USF) and National ICT R&D funds for establishing basic infrastructure and service promotion of telephony and Internet services in rural under-served and un-served areas of the country.

Paper said that operators’ contribution for USF-run projects have increased to Rs. 38 billion at the rate of 1.5 percent share of their yearly gross revenue whereas an amount of over Rs. 2 billion has been submitted in the ministry for ICT R&D projects at 0.5 percent of annual earnings.

USF has awarded Rs. 15.5 billion contract in different provinces to various telecom operators so far – however development work has stopped since last March 2010 on the directives of then minister-Incharge MoITT, Sardar Latif Khan Khosa.

The two organizations were dissolved by the ministry last year. Whereas, the ministry also had to remain nonfunctional due to absence of minister and secretary.

In such a chaotic situation, the telecom operators have asked the federal government to utilize the funds properly or they will stop paying their contribution to these organizations otherwise.

The operators made this demand to the federal government because they get penalized by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority if they don’t pay their contribution to these organizations on time.

On the other hand, they had serious reservations over the issues of the MoITT. The minister and secretary have now been deputed recently in the ministry.