LAHORE: Northern Balochistan will have a 1,100-kilometre optical fibre network, which will be laid at a cost of Rs2.4 billion, a statement said on Wednesday.
A joint-venture of Universal Service Fund Company and Wateen Telecom, the project is called USF Balochistan Package 4 which will help bridge the digital divide in the country.
In this regard, a signing ceremony between the two companies was held in Quetta on Wednesday in the presence of Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani. The ceremony was also attended by Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Khan Raisani, Mr Saeed Ahmad Khan, Secretary IT and PTA Chairman Dr Yaseen Malik.
USF will provide Rs1.97 billion, in the shape of a subsidy, while the rest of the cost will be borne by Wateen.
The new optical fibre network will connect twenty un-served cities and towns, including Gulistan, Musakhel, Barshor, Duki, Harnai, Ziarat, Sinjawi, Zhob, Sherani and Qamardinkarez.
The project, according to the statement, will provide state of the art digital infrastructure in remote areas of Balochistan, and could be further used to build IT, telecom, education, health and business services in the areas.
Wateen is already working with USF on four broadband and three optical fibre projects in underserved areas of Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab, with subsidies worth a total of Rs2.8 billion.
These existing projects entail optical fibre networks spanning over 3,300 km in Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab. They will serve 94,500 broadband subscribers, 246 education broadband centres and 72 community broadband centres in the districts of Sargodha, Abbotabad, Sialkot, Gujrat, Mandi Bahauddin, Hafizabad, Narowal, Sheikhupura, Okarra, Sahiwal Kasur and Pakpattan.
Commenting on the project, Wateen CEO Naeem Zamindar said “The Balochistan project is the first step in a long journey towards achieving nationwide connectivity that will change the lives of many Pakistanis for the better.”