The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has awarded four licences for the provision of mobile services in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and the country’s ‘Northern Areas’ to aid the rebuilding effort in regions badly hit by an earthquake in October 2005, writes the Daily Times. The PTA had invited applications from all operational mobile providers in the country and has handed concessions to Mobilink, Telenor Pakistan, Warid Telecom and Pakistan Telecommunications Mobile, which operates as U-fone. The 15-year licences cost USD10 million each, half paid up front with the remainder due over the following ten years. The PTA also ruled that the Special Communication Organisation (SCO), which currently provides telecom services in AJK, will pay the same amount to renew its existing licence. ‘Permanent licences for these companies will certainly contribute to the rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in the area besides boosting linkages of the region with the rest of the country,’ AJK regional Prime Minister Sardar Sikandar Hayat Khan told the paper.