To enhance financial and digital inclusion, government has decided to distribute 30,000 Smartphones with Rs 250 balance per month among the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) beneficiaries along with 3G services in the un-served and under-served areas of Balochistan and FATA.
Program will be funded by USF money as the government has upgraded the scope of Universal Service Fund (USF) and has added the distribution of Smartphones among the BISP beneficiaries with the launch of upcoming Broadband projects for providing 3G services in Balochistan and FATA.
The proposal was discussed and agreed in the USF Company 46th Board of Directors meeting, chaired by Minister of State for Information Technology & Telecom Anusha Rehman where the development of telecommunication services in un-served and under-served areas were discussed.
The participants deliberated on latest reports according to which Pakistan scored 69 percent on financial and digital inclusion and remained at 14th position among the 26 emerging or third world countries.
Sources said that it was decided to roll out USF projects in the un-served and under-served areas of the country in next three years, while 30,000 smartphones would be given to BISP beneficiaries in Balochistan and FATA.
Further they would also be given Rs 250 balance every month, training, besides different apps to increase mobile adaptability including a know how of e-commerce etc. The BISP beneficiaries would get information about the amount they are receiving from the government and would mitigate the fraud chances.
The pilot project would cover Sibi, Harnai, Barkhan, Loralai – Zhob, Musakhel, Sherani – Kalat, Kharan/Washuk, Kohlu/ Dera Bugti, Kohistan and entire FATA with all 7 Agencies.
BISP has already launched e-commerce facility for promotion of handicraft skills of BISP beneficiaries aimed at providing them better access for their products in the national and international markets.
The objective is to alleviate poverty in rural and semi-urban areas of Pakistan by supporting rural based micro and small enterprises. Market access to the products of marginalized segments will contribute in their welfare and the effects of such measures will also give boost to the economy of Pakistan.
The Board of Directors took in to consideration the important upcoming projects of USF Co. including the approval of 40 Telecentres, small lots, establishment of computer labs initially in 100 Girl’s Schools run under Islamabad Capital Administration.
According to official documents, available with ProPakistani, USF Company has been mandated to provide telecommunication coverage to the un-served and under-served areas across Pakistan. Different programmes have been designed and multiple projects have been undertaken to achieve the goals set forth by the federal government.
Under the USF program broadband programme was initiated to provide broadband internet services in the urban areas of 2nd and 3rd tier cities.
USF has provided internet connectivity to 449,896 subscribers in 406 towns and established 1328 educational broadband centers and 369 community broadband centers.
However with the evolution of 3G/4G ecosystem objectives of this programme have been merged into the rural telephony and e-service programme.
Rural Telephony & e-Services (RTeS) programme has been the main programme of USF whereby both last mile and backhaul components of telecommunication infrastructure have been provisioned in un-served areas. The programme has transformed from provision of basic telephony and data services to mobile broadband internet and telephony (3G/4G) services. Basic telephony and data services have so far been provided to 4,297 mauzas.
Additionally 611 PCOs and 52 Telecentres have also been established. With increasing demand of high speed broadband internet services, a reliable, scalable, high speed and high capacity backhaul infrastructure is of prime importance. USF has laid about 6,447 km of Optical Fiber Cable connecting 74 tehsil headquarters and major towns’ en-route.
Telecentres project focuses on establishment of shared access points for broadband services. These centers will also provide a venue for select government e-services. Over the period of next three years USF will establish about 500 such Telecentres. Projects to establish 275 Telecentres will be launched in year 2016-17, documents maintained.