More than Rs.10 billion Broadband Sustainable Projects were awarded by the Universal Service Fund (USF) in 2017 to various telecom operators in the underserved and far-flung areas. These areas mainly include those in Baluchistan, Khyber Pakhtoonkhawa and FATA.
The areas of Baluchistan have been focused due to its emerging strategic significance with China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The current USF projects include 3G services in CPEC adjoining areas such as Kharan-Washuk, Kalat, Khuzdar, Awaran-Lasbela , Sibi, Zhob, Kohistan, DI Khan, Khyber and Dera Bugti, it has been learnt.
In addition to this, computer labs have also been established at Pakistan Baitul Mal centres in Balochistan.
The availability of telecom infrastructure and services in these areas will certainly enhance the socio-economic betterment of these areas and will increase the effectiveness of the CPEC. Besides, Balochistan is the biggest untapped market for telecom operators with the lowest number of mobile phone users.
According to an estimate, out of more than 12.3 million population, 46% of the province population has no access to either mobile, wireless or a fixed line network.
In 2017, USF continued its journey of success by providing 3G/mobile internet services in rural areas, facilitated use of ICTs for females, laid optic fiber to connect un-served tehsils across the country and worked for spreading the benefits of e-services throughout the country.
All these projects brought a phenomenal change in lives of people and empowered communities at a large scale, said a spokesperson at USF.
By completing many successful programs and laying foundation for several new projects in the year 2017, USF has been able to create a drastic and unprecedented digital revolution in the country and has transformed the lives of the people, she said.
Besides, Broadband for Sustainable Development Projects, an allocation of Rs. 8 billion was made for Special Projects. In 2017, the total worth of contracts awarded by USF is around Rs 11.54 billion.
Since its inception, USF has so far disbursed various development projects of more than Rs. 50.5 billion