Projects worth Rs8 bn launched for broadband services

Projects worth Rs8 bn launched for broadband services

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MOITT) has launched seven more projects worth over Rs8 billion to provide broadband services to over 2.5 million people in the un-served and under-served areas of the four provinces.

Out of total amount for the projects around Rs 3.5 billion projects allocated for Balochistan, according to a statement issued on Monday.

The projects were approved here on Monday at the 81st meeting of the Board of Directors of the Universal Service Fund (USF), since then, the number of projects for providing optical fiber cable and broadband services from 2018 to date has reached a record 56 and the total cost (subsidy) has exceeded Rs 52 billion.

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The meeting was chaired by Secretary IT & Telecom and Chairman USF Board Dr. Muhammad Sohail Rajput while Chairman PTA Major General (Retd) Amir Azeem Bajwa, Member Telecom Muhammad Umar Malik, CEO Telenor Irfan Wahab Khan, Imran Akhtar Shah, Kokab Iqbal, Sibte Hassan Gardezi and other officials were present.

Chief Executive Officer USF Haaris Mahmood Chaudhry gave a detailed briefing to the Board about the projects.

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Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Syed Amin-Ul-Haque, while congratulating the USF Board on the launch of the projects, said that whatever the political situation, the MOITT and its subsidiaries, especially the Universal Service Fund, continue to perform.

He said that Ministry of IT through USF is committed to connect the people in remote areas with digital world.

The minister said projects started during the tenure of present government are being ensured to complete in stipulated time. While for all the projects under the rules only the lowest bidding telecom operators were selected, he said.

Earlier addressing the meeting, Secretary IT and Chairman USF Board Dr. Muhammad Sohail Rajput said that the provision of broadband services to the residents of the un-served and under-served areas of the country is as much needed as for the big cities.

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He said that while the implementation of projects for the four provinces has been ensured under the rules and regulations, the projects worth Rs 3.57 billion have been approved in principle, giving special importance to the deprived Balochistan.

Dr. Sohail Rajput further said that although the wide area of Balochistan and the provision of broadband services to the spread population is costlier than any other area, but the Board under the direction of Federal Minister for IT Syed Amin-Ul-Haque always included Balochistan in its priorities.

Meanwhile, according to the Projects approved at the USF Board of Directors meeting, the project to provide 4G services in Qila Saifullah and Zhob in Balochistan has been awarded to Pak Telecom Mobile Limited (Ufone) with total subsidy is Rs 3.57 billion while the completion period would be 18 months.

The project would facilitate to more than one hundred thousand populations of 111 villages spread over an area of 8,408 sq. km.

The plan to provide broadband services in Jhang, Bhakkar and Toba Tek Singh districts of Punjab has been given to Pakistan Mobile Company Limited (Jazz) on which the amount of subsidy given is Rs. 2.25 billion with one-year completion time.

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In a short span of time, facilities will be provided to a population of over 1 million in 722 villages spread over an area of 8,925 sq. km. The meeting also approved the project of uninterrupted Voice and Broadband services on 95 km section of Hakla D.I Khan Motorway connecting Dera Ismail Khan, Lakki Marwat, Mianwali, Attock and Rawalpindi districts to Jazz at a subsidy of Rs 375.33 million.

Similarly, a plan to provide broadband service in six Mauzas on the outskirts of Islamabad has been handed over to Jazz at a cost of Rs. 11 million.

A project to provide mobile services in a Mauza of Mandi Bahauddin has also been handed over to Jazz at a cost of Rs. 22.6 million.

Under optical fiber cable (OFC) program, 555 km long fiber optical cable laying project in Larkana and Qambar Shahdad Kot districts of Sindh has been given to PTCL with total subsidy of Rs. 1.61 billion and completion period is one year.

By connecting the 62 union councils of these districts, it will be possible to provide high speed connectivity to the population of more than 1.2 million.

Another project under Optical Fiber Cable Program, PTCL was also given a project to lay 106 km long cable for a population of more than 136,000 in 6 Union Councils of Haripur and Islamabad out of total cost Rs. 410 million, the subsidy approved of Rs 235 million.

In addition, the USF Board of Directors has approved in principle the appointment of Ms. Alia Afridi from among the 3 shortlisted names after interviews of 37 candidates on the recommendations of the Human Resource Committee for the post of Company Secretary in the Universal Service Fund.

Ms. Alia Afridi has high academic qualifications and significant experience in the related field.