ISLAMABAD: The Universal Service Funds (USF) has awarded more than Rs10 billion Broadband Sustainable Projects to various operators to ensure telecom services in under-served and far-flung areas of the country.
These areas mainly include Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
In near future, projects will also be awarded for mobile broadband services in D.I. Khan, North Waziristan, South Waziristan, Kurram Agency, F R Tank, Orakzai, FR Bannu and Lakki Marwat.
Addressing a ceremony to mark the project’s launch, chief guest Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi lauded the efforts of the USF in expanding broadband access to tribal and far-flung areas and said the government is providing all possible support to the IT and telecom sectors.
Broadband services are being provided to 5,896 villages in the country, the prime minister said.
He added that the telecom sector has revolutionised the country.
The project has focused on Balochistan due to its emerging strategic significance with the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Current USF projects include 3G services in CPEC-adjoining areas such as Kharan-Washuk, Kalat, Khuzdar, Awaran-Lasbela , Sibi, Zhob, Kohistan, Dera Ismail Khan, Khyber and Dera Bugti.
According to an estimate, out of more than 12.3 million population, 46 per cent of Balochistan population has no access to either mobile, wireless or a fixed line network.
Besides Broadband for Sustainable Development Projects, an allocation of Rs8 billion has also been made for Special Projects. In 2017, the total worth of contracts awarded by the USF was around Rs11.54 billion.