Universal Service Fund (USF), under its Rural Telecom Programme, has so far provided basic telephony and data services in almost 4,000 villages which also included areas where people had to walk kilometers to make even a single phone call.Under the programme, launched to facilitate the far-flung areas, the Fund had signed contracts with 6,410 mauzas, of which 3,967 contracts have been completed and 3,940 of them audited.

Sources at USF on Thursday said in telecenters domain, work on 51 contracts has been completed out of total 64 while 49 such centres have also been audited. A project to establish more telecentres is also being worked out to further expand the opportunities for people.

The sources said under provision of broadband services, the Fund has so far ensured these in 288 2nd and 3rd tier cities and towns along with providing more than 520,000 broadband connections.

The broadband programme also includes establishment of

1,100 Educational Broadband Centres (EBCs) in higher secondary schools and colleges and more than 300 Community Broadband Centres (CBCs) for people who cannot afford to have their own computers. Similarly, they said in Optic Fiber Programme, more than 5,000 kms of optic fiber cable has been laid to connect un-served tehsils and towns.

The sources said the USF has made a landmark achievement by disbursing subsidy of Rs. 4.2 Billion in during previous fiscal year for its projects to provide telecom services across the length and breadth of the country.

This is so far the highest amount of subsidy disbursed in any financial year by USF since its establishment, the sources added.

It has only been possible with untiring efforts of USF Board of Directors and as USF’s projects including  provision of basic telephony and data services, broadband in un-served urban areas, Optic Fiber to connect un-served tehsils and e-services are creating immense socio-economic opportunities and playing a beneficial role in improving lives of people all  over the country.

The sources said amid so many challenges, all these projects are creating a major impact by providing better telecommunication facilities in the un-served and under-served areas which in turn has an incredible impact on education, health and overall capacity building of these communities.

Moreover, the benefits being provided through these projects are helping in bridging the digital and socio-economic divide between urban and rural areas of Pakistan.

The said with all these achievements, USF is creating a success story for the public-private partnership entities nationally and internationally. Furthermore, a large number of countries are replicating USF model of Pakistan. 

Such milestones will keep enabling USF to reach new heights in the coming years, the sources added.