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ISLAMABAD: The Universal Service Fund (USF) on Wednesday awarded contract worth around Rs 1.37 billion to Telenor for providing high-speed mobile broadband services in Chitral, Upper Dir, and Lower Dir districts of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Federal Minister for IT and Telecommunication Syed Aminul Haque and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) for Overseas Pakistanis and HRD Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari witnessed the contract-signing ceremony held here on Wednesday.

The contracts were signed by Haris Mahmood Chaudhary, CEO, USF with Irfan Wahab Khan, CEO Telenor.

The Federal Secretary for IT and Telecommunication and Chairman USF Board, Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui, Chairman PTA, Major General Amir Azeem Bajwa (retired) and other officials were also present at the ceremony.

Sharing details of the project, the CEO USF said that this project will benefit an unserved population of 0.7 million in 648 unserved mauzas, thereby, covering an unserved area of 18,212 sq km of Chitral, Upper Dir, and Lower Dir districts.

“We are committed to empowering the unserved communities of Pakistan and we look forward to strengthening our partnership with Telenor,” he added. Federal Minister for IT and Telecommunication Syed Aminul Haque said that with the help of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), districts of Chitral, Upper Dir, and Lower Dir, can achieve better visibility, communication, and integration into economic and tourism flows. High-speed mobile broadband services will enhance tourism and attract tourists, thus, creating jobs.

The Ministry of IT and Telecommunication will continue close cooperation to support the tourism industry of Pakistan and provide the basis for achieving sustainable rural development, he added.

Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari said that the use of ICT in tourism is a welcoming step for the residents of Chitral, Upper Dir, and Lower Dir districts.

High-speed internet connectivity will expedite activity in the region and make the travel process efficient and pleasant.

CEO Telenor Pakistan Irfan Wahab Khan said that they are committed to ensure the basic right of connectivity to the people of Pakistan.

“At Telenor Pakistan, we are driven to continue empowering the country by bridging the digital divide, creating access to opportunities and uplifting the lives of millions. We stand firm in our commitment of connecting people to what matters most to them and aim to continue providing opportunities in the future,” he added. Talking to Business Recorder, the CEO USF said that around 4,000 km long optical fiber cable would be laid by the end of the current fiscal year to connect un-served and under serves areas in the country, bringing the total connected areas to 12,000 km.

Chaudhry said that during the last 10 years, around 8,000 km long optical fiber cable has been laid to connect under-served and un-served areas across the country.

He further said that a target of 4,000 km optical fiber cable was set for the current fiscal year where 2,400 km has been completed with Rs 6 billion.

The remaining 1,600 km target would be achieved by June-end, he added.

The CEO USF further said that a target of 6,000 km would be set for the next financial year.

Around 8,000 km optical fiber cable was laid in the last 11 years now the same would be achieved in around three years.

He further said that six projects were carried out during 2018-19, 12 projects in 2019-20 while 20 projects are targeted to be completed in 2020-21.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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