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ISLAMABAD: The Universal Service Fund (USF) Board approved 10 projects worth approximately Rs 11.5 billion to provide high speed internet service and Optical Fiber Projects for top tourist destination areas in Kumrat Valley, Swat including in 19 un-served and under-served districts of Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces to facilitate approximately 4.4 million people.

Advised by the Federal Minister for Information Technology (IT) and Telecommunication, Syed Amin Ul Haque, the USF Board approved award of high-speed mobile broadband contracts to Jazz, Ufone and Telenor while the optic fiber cable projects contracts to PTCL. The Federal Secretary for Ministry of IT and Telecommunication & Chairman of USF Board, Dr Muhammad Sohail Rajput chaired the 80th Board of Directors meeting of USF.

The meeting was attended by Member Telecom, Muhammad Omar Malik, Chairman PTA, Major General Amir Azeem Bajwa (retd), VP for Government Sales-Super Net Pvt Ltd, Imran Akhtar Shah, Chairman Consumer Association of Pakistan, Kaukab Iqbal and other officials.

While addressing the meeting, Federal Secretary for IT and Telecommunication and Chairman of USF Board, Dr Muhammad Sohail Rajput said, “USF was established 15 years ago but in the first 12 years the pace of implementation of projects was quite slow. In the last three years since the current government took charge, especially in the last two years, a record 37 projects worth over Rs 31 billion have been 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, Syed Amin Ul Haque who is working day and night to fulfill 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.”

According to the details, the Board approved award of high-speed mobile broadband contracts to Jazz 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 5,080 sq. km.

The Board also approved award of high-speed mobile broadband projects in tourist destination contracts to Jazz, covering districts of Mansehra, Abbottabad, Swat and Upper Dir in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. These projects will provide access to 153.83 km unserved route length and an approximate unserved area of 65.51 sq. km.

The tourist projects in destinations like Janat Nazeer Wadi, Kumrat and others will strengthen the Prime Minister’s tourism program 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 Amin Ul 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 Ufone 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 Telenor 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 1,232 sq. km.

USF Board also approved OFC Progarm 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 1,385 km of optic fiber cable and installing 301 BTS Towers.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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