Planning Commission Thursday approved PC-1 for up-gradation and replacement of SCO’s GSM Network in AJ&K worth Rs 1.45 billion thus paving the way for NGMS (3G/4G) spectrum auction in AJK down the line.
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), on the request from AJ&K and GB Council, has decided to auction spectrum for 3G/4G services in AJ&K and GB in the future. However, with the existing network, it was not possible for SCO to upgrade the network to 3G and 4G technologies.
Inability of SCO’s adoption of 3G/4G network was a major hurdle in auctioning of 3G and 4G licenses for AJK, which is now likely to get removed.
SCO’s GSM network of AJ&K had met its life-cycle in 2014, while existing capacity has been fully utilized, therefore there was a dire need of technology up-gradation and capacity enhancement of GSM network in AJK, before the launch of 3G/4G services.
Planning Commission, Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform, in its Central Development Working Party (CDWP) meeting, chaired by Federal Minister Ahsan Iqbal, gave the green-signal to SCO for the up-gradation of its GSM network.
— Planning Commission (@PlanComPakistan) February 11, 2016
The project titled “Replacement of GSM Network AJ&K “ was submitted by the Special Communication Organization at a cost of Rs. 1.450 billion financed through PSDP.
The main purpose of the project is to carry out replacement of existing equipment which has underwent serious technical faults in the past couple of years having no warranty support from vendor and is obsolete.
The required software for the GSM network was upgraded from time to time but not the hardware, therefore, core network elements had become obsolete and will be upgraded through this new funding.
SCO was also tasked to take care of following observations:
- SCO should prepare a roadmap for up-gradation replacement is expansion of its infrastructure in AJ&K and GB.
- It was proposed that in future the spares and technical support of equipment may start from the year of procurement rather than manufacturing year of equipment.
- The executing agency may adopt a multi-vendor strategy for its supply chain. The strategy may be based on future upgrades warranty period spares and technical support available for that equipment.
- It is mentioned in the PC-I that present demand is approximately 25,000-50,000 connections per year which is growing @35% per year PC-I may include the share of SCO keeping in view the possibility of other competitors taking market share.
- SCO’s system is totally dependent on a single vendor i.e M/S Huawai, however, executing agency may adopt a multi vendor strategy for SCO for better support chain.
- Since the project is a replacement of existing GSM network, the meeting asked SCO to provide details of disposing of the current GSM network and its salvage value etc.
- The specifications of the equipment mentioned in the PC-I may be reviewed/revised as per latest standards.
- PC-I duly vetted by the current DG (SCO) and Secretary Ministry of IT may be provided.
The project is reportedly designed to carry out replacement of existing CS & PS Core Billing SMSC and part of Access Network of GSM system installed in AJ&K which has underwent serious technical faults in the past having no warranty/ support from vendor and it obsolete.
Below elements are going to be incorporated in SCO’s GSM network:
- Up-gradation to latest HRL version for 3G compliance
- Redundancy solution for HRL to Ensure zero service outage Configuration of 1+ 1 (Active + Standby) and N+ 1 redundancy solution is available nowadays.
- Up-gradation to latest model of MSC and UMG
Below budget was approved for SCO’s network replacement: