Through the Rural Telecom Projects of Universal Service Fund, Telenor and CMPak have completed 62 solar powered sites in
- Mirpur Khas – 34 sites,
- Bahawalpur – 13 sites
- Nasirabad – 15 sites
A population of 2.37 million people will be benefitting from these projects in total which resides in the districts of Sanghar, Tharparkar Umerkot and Mirpur Khas in Mirpur Khas lot (218 muzas), Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur and Rahim Yar Khan Districts in Bahawalpur Lot (888 muzas) and Bolan, Jaffarabad, Jhal Magsi and Nasirabad in Nasirabad lot (648 muzas).
Since commercial power has not reached most of the areas where USF is running rural telecom projects, it proved to be a barrier to provide smooth uninterrupted telecom service. Even where commercial power infrastructure is available, the availability of power is extremely limited.
As a result, the telecom operators had to rely completely on diesel generators. Not only there was the cost of diesel, the transport and re-fueling at these sites was also a big and expensive hassle. At the same time, there was also a great need for cross-cutting operational expenses for maintenance of remote and hard-to-reach sites. Therefore, following a consultative process where all stakeholders participated, it was decided that operators will bid for all future infrastructure in un-served areas with renewable energy solutions.
This decision has played an important role in reducing the energy costs and is also a small contribution towards dealing with the energy crisis in Pakistan. Moreover, this initiative will also help in reducing carbon content in the atmosphere.
Overall, the projects being executed by Universal Service Fund are showing great progress as the number of previously un-served Mauzas where service has been provided has crossed 3,500 and number of small towns and cities with broadband connections is approaching 200. At the same time, nearly 1,000 kms of Fiber Cables have been laid to connect Tehsils so far not served with Optical Fiber. Technical Audits are in progress at all the sites where the Operators have claimed to have completed the milestones, as payments are made only after full verification of the achieved targets by technical auditors.
USF Pakistan is hailed as one of the best performing Universal Service programs in the developing world, which is all due to joint efforts of the stakeholders as each one of them is represented on the Board of Directors of USF Co. – in true Public-Private Partnership basis.