The board of Universal Service Fund (USF) has approved four projects worth Rs2.14 billion to provide high-speed internet to about 2.2 million people in unserved and under-served areas of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).
The board awarded internet contracts to Telenor and Jazz, and optic fibre cable contract to Pakistan Telecommunication Company (PTCL).
Meeting under the chairmanship of Ministry of IT and Telecommunication Secretary and USF Board Chairman Dr Sohail Rajput, it also approved USF’s budget worth Rs18 billion for fiscal year 2021-22. Speaking at the meeting, Rajput said, “The Ministry of IT and Telecommunication through USF ensures adequate access to the communication infrastructure for all citizens for the realisation of Digital Pakistan vision.”
The secretary pointed out that the board approved these projects to improve rural population’s living standards, create jobs and provide easier access to government services. USF Chief Executive Officer Haaris Mahmood Chaudhary briefed the board about the ongoing and upcoming projects.
He said, “USF is committed to providing the digital way to connect people with the digital world through its projects and will strengthen partnerships, develop strategic alliances and further expand its footprint.”
According to details, the board approved the award of contracts under the Next Generation Broadband for Sustainable Development programme worth around Rs1.19 billion to Telenor and Jazz, which would benefit an unserved population of over one million and approximate unserved area of 6,280 square km.
Telenor was awarded the contract for Okara, Pakpattan and Sahiwal districts in Punjab, which will serve an unserved population of around 0.57 million in 778 villages over an area of 1,540 square km.
Similarly, USF awarded the contract to Jazz for Attock and Rawalpindi districts in Punjab, Bannu and Lakki Marwat districts in K-P.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 15h, 2021.