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Govt awards Rs6.5 billion projects for high-speed internet

By Our Correspondent
July 09, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The government has awarded Rs6.5 billion worth of projects to provide high-speed internet to 3.8 million people in southern Punjab, IT minister said on Thursday.

These include six high speed mobile broadband projects and three optic fiber cable projects, Minister for IT and Telecommunication Amin Ul Haque said the ministry of information technology contracted projects, through Universal Service Fund (USF).

The fund was established and managed by the government with contribution of 1.5 percent from telecom operators to expand telecom outreach.

“Under these projects, we are spending a total of Rs708 million for provision of high speed broadband services in three districts of Bahawalpur, Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan and Bahawalnagar,” Haque said. “About 2.6 million people living in 846 villages will benefit from this. Similarly, in Dera Ghazi Khan Division, four districts DG Khan, Layyah, Muzaffargarh and Rajanpur, Rs141 million is being spent. While Rs4.47 billion is being spent on three projects related to the laying of optical fiber cable.”

The minister further said 2,000 square kilometers areas will be connected with optical fiber cables to strengthen stability. More than 25 percent work has been done on broadband services projects.

Completion of these projects will provide the fastest broadband services to 393 villages with a population of over 850,000, he said.

Foreign Minister Mahmood Qureshi said the ministry of foreign affairs would provide all possible assistance and support for the promotion of IT industry and showcasing of Pakistani IT products around the world “because the ministry of IT is at the forefront of those sectors through which numerous job opportunities and the country's economy can be strengthened”.

USF CEO Haaris Mahmood said the USF is committed in its resolve to empower the marginalized communities of Pakistan. This project will benefit an unserved population of 480,000 in 170 unserved mauzas, thereby covering an unserved area of 1,323 sq. km. of Multan and Khanewal districts. The project will be completed in 12 months.

The USF awarded a contract worth approximately Rs154 Million to Jazz for providing high speed mobile broadband services in Multan and Khanewal districts. Sharing his views on the development, CEO-Jazz, Aamir Ibrahim said, “Jazz has invested $462 million during the last two years mainly to expand its 4G footprint in rural and semi-urban areas. This is in line with our mission to bridge the digital divide and to collaborate with the Government of Pakistan in helping realize the Digital Pakistan vision.

“Today's contract signing is a testament of our commitment to create ICT-led socioeconomic opportunities for the masses.”