Thursday April 18, 2024

Prudent action played a major role in saving federal govt from multiple problems

By Obaid Abrar Khan
April 20, 2020

Islamabad : National Telecommunication Corporation, a government autonomous body under Ministry of IT saved federal government from bulk of the problems by providing safe and secure ICT services through National Data Centre (NDC) after COVID-19 breakout.

Managing Director, NTC Brigadier (r) Viqar Rashid Khan wised decision back in 2016 to establish National Data Center (NDC) is helping the government to run the matter smoothly and secure during the time of COVID -19 when PM decided to run government affairs by using technology for holding Cabinet Meetings via video conference.

COVID-19 has forced the world to follow social distancing and to use latest technology such as video conference for communication and to run government affairs. Without having National Data Centre it might have been a big challenge for government to have safe and secure communication under the present crisis. Imagine if a private company is providing video conference service to Prime Minister and matters discussed in meeting is leaked it would been a disaster for the government.

During the testing times and turmoil of COVID -19, NTC is playing a major part by connecting multiple ministries on video conferencing by hosting Huawei cloud MCU in NDC with different government departments and ministries, Cabinet meetings, and National Command Operation Centre (NCOC) resulting in secure and smooth functioning of the government and enhancing health safety standards and logistic cost cut down. Video meetings are hosting in NTC and media is encrypted with fully secured video communication.

While talking to ‘The News’ Brigadier (r) Viqar Rashid Khan, MD NTC told that National Data Centre (NDC) was established by National Telecommunication Corporation in 2016 with the cost of around Rs450 million without getting single penny from the government.

MD NTC Viqar Rashid said the idea behind to establish National Data Centre to provide safe and secure data centre facilities to all government departments.

He told that in 2016, NTC established a state of the art ISO certified (ISO27001), Tier III cloud based National Data Centre (NDC) which was completed in record time of only five months. The NDC is providing web hosting, email and various other ICT related applications/services to Government of Pakistan.

MD NTC further told that NTC is also in the process of establishing Disaster Recovery Centre in Lahore which is essential requirement of Data Centre and will provide redundancy to NDC to ensure continuity of services and save the government data.

He also told that besides facilitating the government in dealing with COVID-19 crisis and hosting various COVID-19 related applications in NDC, NTC also successfully launched KAMYAB JAWAN, EHSAAS PROGRAM of BISP, SEHAT TAHAFFUZ HELPLINE 1166 to the public, Insaf Tiger Force, Track and Trace for COVID-19. During all this process NTC didn’t ask federal government for the funds and additional resources which is a unique case of foresightedness, good governance and proactive approach of the NTC management.

Viqar Rashid Khan told that NTC has deployed state of the art video conferencing cloud based system for providing video conferencing facilities to the PM office, Cabinet Division, ECC, CDWP, Ministries and Civil Administration, besides NTC also arranges daily video conference of NCOC with all stakeholders and provinces in safe and secure manner. Since March 6 NTC has arranged more than 60 video conferences meetings,” he added.

MD NTC said that under present COVID-19 pandemic work load on NDC has increased tremendously and its present capacity is almost exhausted and there is an urgent need to procure data centre resources to support government efforts to fight against COVID-19. "If we do not increase the resources of NDC the operational work of the government related to COVID-19 pandemic likely to suffer,” he added.

MD NTC Viqar Rashid Khan further said that ministry of education has launched an educational channel through PTV to educate up-to 12th grade students remotely. A web channel/ web streaming is also being planned. NTC has the capability to serve the infrastructure and SMS requirement for this project.

‘The News’ also learnt that during last few years NTC made remarkable progress in modernising its network and infrastructure all over the country without obtaining any funds from the government.

During last five years NTC has converted more than 68% of its old TDM exchanges into digital Next Generation Networks (NGN) exchanges, increased NTC presence from 66 districts/ cities to 95 districts/cities, 190% increase in number of exchanges all over the country, 13% increase in fixed lines Subscribers and 107 % increase in broadband subscribers, 99 % completion of its ADP projects in a calendar year which is a record in a public sector

NTC is the first in the country to launch "NTC Go Smart”, machine to machine ( M2M) and Point 2 point (P2P) technologies in the country, signing of various agreements with leading tele company of Pakistan on revenue sharing basis under Public Private Partnership as envisaged in Telcom Policy 15. NTC also successfully concluded SPLA agreements with Microsoft and a separate agreement Vm ware. Prior to these agreements all their software/licenses/ products used to host outside Pakistan which was a security hazard but after signing these agreements their products would now be hosted on NTC platform within geographic boundaries of Pakistan thus enhancing security of government data besides sharing revenue with NTC.

Based on the good performance of NTC, Ministry of IT and the government entrusted them with launching of Country code top level domain i.e. ccTLD for dot Pakistan for Urdu and local languages and NTC successfully established it on NDC platform without asking allotment of funds from the government.