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Telecom & Communication Technology As Vital As Food, Medicine

The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MoITT) has emphasised on the continuation of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) and telecommunication services during the self-quarantine and lockdown periods across the country.

The ministry has directed the authorities concerned in the federal and provincial governments to ensure that franchises and service centres of the telecom operators, retail outlets providing mobile scratch cards and electronic loads, call and data centers, telephone exchanges, optical fiber cable and repeater stations, submarine cable and ITS towers shall remain functioning.

The details emerged in a letter of the MoITT written to the government, health secretary and the focal officer of the National Coordination Committee on coronavirus.

“It has been observed with concern that many provincial and local governments are locking down areas and bazaars to avoid congregations,” the letter said

“However, provision of ICT/telecommunication services during this crisis/lockdown situation is as important as availability of food and medicines,” it added. “Lack of connectivity in times of isolation, work from home and lockdowns for the population will lead to panic and disruptions.”

While explaining the reasons behind the move, the MoITT Secretary Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui said that the ministry had consulted with the stakeholders and the telecommunication companies and assessed that millions of people in cities like Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Islamabad, Peshawar, and Quetta were migrant workers from rural areas.

Siddiqui observed thousands of college and university students and health workers across Pakistan were dependent on internet and telecommunication services and wanted to remain connected with their families during the current situation.

He said the internet connectivity provided online services to millions of people, including the daily wagers who sent money home and conducted financial transactions through mobile franchises and retails outlets.

He advised the authorities concerned in the federal and provincial governments to ensure that ICTs and telecom services remained open during the prevailing circumstances.

On March 19, the MoITT had announced to develop a mobile application – Corona App –to deal with the pandemic with the help of technology.

The application will enable people to check if they are carrying the COVID-19 symptoms.


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