The board of directors of Universal Service Fund (USF) has approved the award of contracts to Telenor, Zong, Ufone and Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) worth Rs5.11 billion under the Next Generation Broadband for Sustainable Development programme and the Next Generation Optic Fibre Network and Services programme.
PTCL was awarded the contract for Kashmore, Ghotki, Sukkur and Khairpur districts in Sindh. The Next Generation Optic Fibre Network and Services project worth approximately Rs3 billion is aimed at laying optic fibre cable over 1,078 km to connect 140 villages and union councils, thereby providing high-speed mobile broadband services to an unserved population of approximately 4.7 million.
Moreover, Telenor, Zong and Ufone got contracts under the Next Generation Broadband for Sustainable Development programme worth Rs2 billion.
Telenor was awarded contract for Chitral, Upper Dir and Lower Dir districts in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa where an unserved population of around 0.7 million would benefit from high-speed mobile broadband services in 648 unserved villages and an approximate unserved area of 18,212 square kilometres.
Likewise, Zong was awarded contract for Karachi West and Malir districts in Sindh, which would benefit an unserved population of approximately 0.1 million in 36 unserved villages and approximately 690 square km of unserved area.
Similarly, Ufone was awarded contract for Mastung and Ziarat districts in Balochistan for serving an unserved population of approximately 0.1 million in 226 unserved villages and an approximate unserved area of 6,324 square km.
During the meeting, Ministry of IT and Telecommunication Secretary Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui said the basic purpose of these projects was to not only promote tourism infrastructure but also connect rural population with the digital world.
He added that the Ministry of IT and Telecommunication was leaving no stone unturned to provide broadband services for every Pakistani and accomplish the Digital Pakistan vision. Therefore, people should remain hopeful that such development interventions would be made soon to provide them benefits.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 20th, 2020.