The three-day 19th Meeting of the South Asian Telecom Regulators Council (SATRC-19) commenced at Islamabad. The high level meeting from 13-15 December 2018 has been hosted by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) in collaboration with Asia-Pacific Telecommunity (APT).
In his inaugural address, Dr. Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Federal Minister for Information Technology & Telecommunications (MoIT) said that, MoIT is continuously working on new projects for maximum economic impact through collaboration, digitization, research and innovation in new emerging technologies within the ICT and other socioeconomic sectors. The Telecom Policy and recently announced Digital Pakistan Policy envisions us to become a strategic enabler for an accelerated digitization ecosystem which propagates the knowledge based economy and spurs socioeconomic growth. The Minister said that, the Government is also planning for development of IT zones, software technology parks at major cities, and to finance research & development activities, entrepreneurship and innovation. The Minister appreciated the efforts of PTA and APT to promote regional harmony and knowledge exchange through the platform of SATRC and vowed to provide continuous patronage from the Government for such efforts.
On this occasion, Ms. Areewan Haorangsi, Secretary General, Asia-Pacific Telecommunity said that this event will assist the regulatory bodies of member countries in acquiring knowledge and skills to address the common challenges facing the region.. In addition, it will also promote cooperation and dialogue between regulators and industry to introduce best regional and international practices in the member countries. SATRC is an important forum under the APT that provides delegates with a unique networking opportunity to the country delegates which may lead to mutual collaborations on similar opportunities and challenges. She also thanked PTA for being the host of SATRC-19 and commended the excellent arrangements of the event.
Mr. Digambar Jha, current Chairman of the SATRC and the Chairman of Nepal Telecommunication Authority said that, the discussions and outcome of this meeting shall have significant impact on the telecommunication/ICT industry in the South-Asian countries which cover a large percentage of the population of the Asia-Pacific region. The South Asian region has seen very rapid development of telecommunication network and services. In this era of telecommunication innovations, SATRC provides regular capacity building opportunities for the officers of the member countries. Outcomes of the difference Working Groups under the SATRC are important source of knowledge and recommendations to adopt the new technologies and regulatory approach in an amicable environment.
In his welcome remarks, Mr. Muhammad Naveed, Chairman PTA said that it is an honour for Pakistan to host this key meeting of SATRC. PTA has been an active member of the SATRC and will continue to share its regulatory wisdom and regulatory skills with the regional regulators. He said that the Government of Pakistan has entrusted us with the task of providing state-of-the-art ICT services to the people of Pakistan. While creating smarter communities, PTA ensures affordable and broad-based communications access to the consumer.
Initiation of implementation of 5G policy directive for taking broadband to the maximum speed, issuance of third party service provider’s license for increasing financial inclusion, device identification registration blocking systems (DIRBS) aimed proper registration of mobile handsets, online NOC portal for import of handsets and online interactive remote education initiative are some of the recent success stories of PTA which will be shared with the other regulators through this meeting. Similarly, PTA favors learning from the experiences of APT countries and to find solutions to common issues and areas of common interest and collaborations.
This may be noted that SATRC conducts training programs and research activities with the help of experts from the member countries of the Council. The Council meeting is an annual meeting of the heads of the member countries where SATRC Action Plans are discussed and approved. The meeting is being attended by the delegates from different countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and representatives from regional and national telecom multinational companies.