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Govt approves Rs8bn broadband projects for underserved areas

By Our Correspondent
March 15, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The government on Monday launched seven projects worth Rs8 billion to provide broadband services to over 2.5 million people in un-served and under-served areas across the country, aiming to connect people in remote areas with the digital world.

Ministry of IT and Telecom (MOITT), through Universal Service (USF), launched the projects at a meeting of USF board of directors. The projects include Rs3.5 billion for Balochistan province, a statement said.

The government was committed to tether people in remote areas with the digital world, said federal minister Syed Amin-Ul-Haque, adding, they had selected only the lowest bidding telecom operators for all the projects.

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 Rs52 billion. Talking to the event, Syed Amin-Ul-Haque said MOITT and its subsidiaries would continue to perform irrespective of political situations.

“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.”

While the implementation of projects for all four provinces had been ensured under the rules and regulations, projects worth Rs3.57 billion had been approved in principle, giving special importance to the deprived Balochistan, he added.

He further said the board had kept Balochistan in its priorities, despite the province provision of broadband services was costlier than other areas. Under the approved projects, the project to provide 4G services in Qila Saifullah and Zhob in Balochistan was awarded to Pak Telecom Mobile Limited (Ufone) with total subsidy of Rs3.57 billion and completion period of 18 months.

Pakistan Mobile Company Limited (Jazz) was chosen serve Jhang, Bhakkar, and Toba Tek Singh districts of Punjab, with a subsidy of Rs2.25 billion and one-year completion time. 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 Rs375.33 million.

Similarly, a plan to provide broadband service in six Mauzas on the outskirts of Islamabad has been handed over to Jazz at Rs11 million. A project to provide mobile services in a Mauza of Mandi Bahauddin was handed over to Jazz at Rs22.6 million.

Under optical fiber cable (OFC) program, 555km long fiber optical cable laying project in Larkana and Qambar Shahdad Kot districts of Sindh was given to Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd (PTCL) with total subsidy of Rs1.61 billion and fulfillment period of one year.

Another project under optical fiber cable program, PTCL was also given a project to lay 106km long cable in 6 union councils of Haripur and Islamabad out of total cost Rs410 million, the subsidy approved of Rs235 million.

In addition, the USF board of directors approved in principle the appointment of Ms. Alia Afridi from among the 3 shortlisted names after interviews of 37 candidates on recommendations of the human resource committee for the post of company secretary in USF.