ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications (MoIT) would provide modern broadband facilities to 196,177 un-served individuals in some 269 Mauzas, covering an area of 39,434 sq km in Balochistan.
These areas would be facilitated for sustainable development. The Universal Service Fund (USF), a subsidiary of MoIT, has accorded approval to a Rs2.3-billion Awaran-Lasbela broadband project, which covers 12.8% of the area and 6.5% of the total estimated population of Balochistan.
Official sources said the USF, in a recently held meeting, with Minister for IT and Telecom Anusha Rahman reviewed existing projects pertaining to establishment of 50 more computer labs in Women Empowerment Centers, Bait-Ul-Maal (PBM) for girls’ ICT programme and providing broadband to low income women (in phase two).
The sources said that USF has set a target to reach all under-served and un-served areas of the country with rural telephone and e-Services (RTeS) by 2018.
Despite massive growth in telecom, vast areas of the country remain un-served. On the other hand, telecom is one of the most important tools for rapid development, especially in rural areas. All licensed telecommunication companies contribute 1.5% of their revenue towards the USF to reach such areas.
The USF Board of Directors has also approved Rs13 billion for financial year 2016-2017 to ensure coverage of telecom and internet facilities in far-flung areas. Four new projects at an estimated cost of Rs3 billion are going to be started in 2016-17 to extend IT and telephone services to far-flung areas while a further Rs9.52 billion would be spent on the on-going projects in un-served areas of four provinces.
New lines at a cost of Rs2.43 billion will be laid in Balochistan, Kharaan, Washuk, Dera Bugti, Kohistan and Waziristan in the current financial year.
An amount of Rs11.94 million has been earmarked for provision of telephone services in rural areas during 2016-17. The USF plans to establish 500 tele-centers, of which 30 were already established to serve as a one stop for telecommunication services. The USF has provided telecommunication facility to 310 under-served towns and provided 5500 km of fibre optics so far.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2016.