ISLAMABAD: The Universal Service Fund (USF) Board has approved 10 projects with an estimated cost of Rs11.5 billion for providing broadband internet services and Optical Fiber Project for top tourist destination area of Kumrat valley Swat besides 19 other un-served and under-served districts of different parts of the country.
The USF Board held its meeting under chairmanship of Secretary Ministry of Information Technology & Telecom (MoITT) Sohail Rajput during this week in which the Board members participated. The Chief Executive Officer USF Haris Mehmood Chaudhry briefed the Board members about different development projects in order to promote connectivity for far flung areas of the country.
The USF Board approved awarding of high-speed mobile broadband contracts to three telecos while for the Optic Fiber Cable Projects contracts were handed over PTCL.
According to the details, the USF Board approved award of high-speed mobile broadband contracts to a teleco for districts of Mianwali and Khushab in Punjab that will serve an unserved population of around 0.37 million in 186 unserved muazas and an approximate unserved area of 5,080sq.km.
The Board also approved award of high-speed mobile broadband projects in tourist destination contracts to a teleco, covering districts of Mansehra, Abbottabad, Swat and Upper Dir in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. These projects will provide access to 153.83km unserved route length and an approximate unserved area of 65.51sq. km. The tourist projects in destinations like Janat Nazeer Wadi, Kumrat and others will strengthen the prime minister’s tourism programme and tourists and local citizenry will enjoy access to the fastest internet and network services.
On the special directive of Federal Minister for IT and Telecommunication Syed Aminul Haque, preliminary technical survey and design for these projects has been completed in record time while the projects will also be completed in minimum time.
Furthermore, the Board also approved award of high-speed mobile broadband for contract to a teleco for providing high-speed mobile broadband services in districts of Lasbella and Awaran in Balochistan that will serve an unserved population of around 0.15 million in 223 unserved muazas and an approximate unserved area of 39,012 sq km.
Similarly, the Board also approved award of high-speed mobile broadband contract to another teleco for providing high-speed mobile broadband services in districts of Buner and Shangla in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province that will serve an unserved population of around 95,840 in 102 unserved muazas and an approximate unserved area of 1,232sq. km. The USF Board also approved OFC Programme for union council level and award of optic fiber cable contracts to PTCL for providing backhaul connectivity in districts of Mianwali, Dadu, Jamshoro, Badin and Hyderabad in Sindh that will serve an unserved population of around 3.7 million in 135 unserved union councils by laying 1,385km of optic fiber cable and installing 301 BTS Towers
While addressing the meeting Federal Secretary for IT and Telecommunication and Chairman of USF Board Dr Muhammad Sohail Rajput said that USF had come into being 15 years ago but in the first 12 years the pace of implementation of projects was dismally slow.
During the last three years since the current government took charge, especially in the last two years, he said a record 37 projects worth over Rs31 billion were contracted; in FY 2019-20, 12 projects were contracted, in FY 2020-21, 25 projects were contracted and in FY 2020-21, we plan to contract 28 projects.
This reflects the exemplary leadership of Federal Minister for IT and Telecommunication who is working day and night to fulfil the Prime Minister’s Digital Pakistan vision and Connectivity for all policy. So, it is important that USF continues to bridge the digital divide and ensure timely completion of all projects going forward.