The Universal Service Fund (USF) Board has approved the award of 10 contracts worth approximately Rs. 21 billion for the unserved and under-served communities of Baluchistan, Punjab, Sindh, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).
The high-speed mobile broadband projects, highways and motorways projects, and optical fiber cable projects will provide 4G LTE connectivity and backhaul connectivity to around 3.5 million people by connecting 187 Union Councils (UCs) with 1,554 kilometers (kms) of optical fiber cable and provide seamless connectivity to 622 km of unserved road segments on M-8 motorway and N-35 highway.
Additional Secretary (Incharge) IT & Telecommunication and Chairman USF Board Mohsin Mushtaq Chandna chaired the 83rd Board of Directors meeting of USF on Thursday.
While addressing the meeting, Chandna said that USF has delivered a record productive performance in the past 4 years by contracting 79 projects worth approximately Rs. 62.7 billion in subsidy. This is a testament to our absolute commitment to improving the lives and livelihoods of the unserved and underserved communities of Pakistan.
He also highlighted the importance of infrastructure, affordability, and accessibility of the internet and pledged to work with all stakeholders to achieve the vision of Digital Pakistan.
USF Chief Executive Officer Haaris Mahmood Chaudhary apprised the Board members of the progress of the current projects and the restoration of the flood-affected USF network. He said that these projects will empower around 3.3 million people living in far-flung and backward areas across Pakistan, enabling them to access e-services across various spheres, ranging from financial services like banking and loans to accessibility towards various government services and benefits.
According to the details, the Board approved the award of 5 high-speed mobile broadband contracts worth approximately Rs. 7.1 billion for providing 4G LTE services in the rural and remote districts of Punjab, Sindh, and Balochistan. These projects will benefit people living in 262 unserved muazas of Dera Ghazi Khan, Layyah, Muzaffargarh, Multan, and Rajanpur districts in Punjab, Jamshoro in Sindh, and Barkhan, Musakhel, Sherani, and Sibi in Balochistan covering an approximate unserved area of 12,784.91 sq. km.
Furthermore, the Board also approved the award of two high-speed mobile broadband projects for National Highways and Motorways worth Rs. 6 billion for providing 4G LTE services to commuters on unserved road segments of 622.68 km on M-8 motorway and N-35 highway respectively.
Similarly, the USF Board also approved the award of three optical fiber cable projects worth approximately Rs. 7.7 billion for providing backhaul connectivity to 187 Union Councils (UCs) of Punjab and KP. Under these projects, USF will deploy a total of 1,554 km of optical fiber cable that will benefit over 3.3 million people in the districts of Attock, Sheikhupura, and Nankana Sahib in Punjab and Bannu and Lakki Marwat in KP. These projects are designed to connect 684 educational institutions, 223 government offices, and 268 health institutions along with mandatory connectivity of 408 BTS towers.