The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has rejected the allegations contained in a news item entitled “HEC project to equip varsities with WiFi yet to be completed”, as being based on false and misleading information.
The HEC Smart University project is proceeding well ahead of its schedule and within its approved budget. It is one of the fastest executed programmes in the Asia Pacific region and hence any allegation to the contrary was completely false and without foundation. The project was approved in 2015, at a total cost of Rs. 2.4 billion. There is no change in the contract cost since then. Work on the project started in 2016 and is scheduled to be completed in eight years, i.e. 2024. The allocation is to be spent in these eight years, and not in the first two or three years of the project. However, the main deployment of the equipment (Phase-I of the project) will be completed in 2019. It is fully on schedule and all targets will be met.
The project aims to equip university campuses with blanket WiFi coverage, to enable the deployment of other smart instruments as needed. The project has provided a suite of important services to thousands of students and faculty members across the country. This includes blanket wifi coverage, student authentication, guest WiFi portals for visitors, and eduroam (a secure, world-wide roaming access service available in thousands of locations across over 100 countries worldwide).
Due to the overwhelmingly positive response from universities, the scope of coverage was expanded to include hostels as well. This was done before the launch of Phase-I, and with the consent of all stakeholders including a high-level steering committee comprised of Vice-Chancellors, senior government officials and higher management of HEC.
So far, a total of 63 universities have been facilitated with blanket Wi-Fi connectivity. This has been done with the fulfilment of all legal, codal and procedural formalities for contracts and payments. HEC has strict rules regarding compliance with legal provisions. No payments can be made without proper pre-audit. Any delays in the execution result in the imposition of financial penalties on the providers as per contract. The contractors are required to obtain acceptance certificates from universities on completion of installation.
The allegations contained in the news are baseless and display no understanding of the quality or operation of the project.