KARACHI - President Asif Ali Zardari will inaugurate the Universal Service Funds 'Broadband Project in Southern Punjab worth Rs 1.95 billion tomorrow (Friday). The project covers 11 districts namely Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur, Dera Ghazi Khan, Khanewal, Leiah, Lodhran, Multan, Muzaffargarh, Rahim Yar Khan, Rajanpur and Vehari. Moreover, some 37 towns/cities (excluding Multan) with the population of 4.4 million will benefit from this project. In the last 3 months, since its launch on 20th January this year, some 21 towns/cities have been covered under the programme, and total 25,100 Broadband Connections have already been provided. In addition 327 Higher Secondary Schools, Colleges and Public Libraries have got to get 5 PCs with Broadband to benefit 240,000 students, as some 40 centers are working in this regard besides 85 Community Broadband Centers (CBCs). Other potential beneficiaries of this program include 267 Hospitals and clinics, 541 Basic Health Units, 539 Health Care Centers, 116 Vocational Institutes, 30 Special Education Centers, 33 Allama, Iqbal Open University, Distance Learning Centers, 46 Courts and Bar Councils, 62 Post Offices, 67 NADRA Offices, and 128 Police Stations. This project worth Rs 1.95 billion is being implemented through PTCL and Worldcall and involves providing broadband facilities in un-served urban areas of Southern Punjab. Universal Service Fund (USF) is government institute that was built to offer Telecom services in rural and less developed areas. USF operates through funds given by the cellular operators, 1.5 percent of their yearly revenues, and the government. It primarily serves in three areas namely telecom, broadband, and special projects. USF has been running rural telecom projects to provide basic telephony and data services in several remote areas of Pakistan thus creating opportunities also for the individuals in rural areas to get equal access to ICT facilities. So far USF has subsidized in following regions: Khuzdar, Kalat, Mastung, Larkana, Nasirabad, Killa Saifullah-Loralai, Kalat-Mastung, Mirpur Khas, Dera Ismail Khan, Sibi, Pishin, Dadu, Mansehra, Bahawalpur, Sukkur, Dera Ghazi Khan, Chagai, and Malakand. Similarly in those areas where ISPs do not go due to less number of potential subscribers, or said area is not financially viable, USF subside services in those regions. Currently projects have started for following regions: Gujranwala Telecom Region, Central Telecom Region, Southern Telecom Region-V, Multan Telecom Region, Southern Telecom Region-I, Hazara Telecom Region, and Faisalabad Telecom Region. Most significant of special projects is country wide Fiber Optic, where each tehsil will be connected with back haul fiber cable make available and affordable, the voice telephony and basic data services. The contract for project to provide optic fiber connectivity to un-served tehsils in Sindh has been awarded to Wateen Telecom by USF and same type of projects have been launched for providing optic fiber connectivity in Balochistan and their contracts will be awarded in the near future. The objectives to be achieved through the Optic Fiber Project are Facilitating ICTs like: Basic Telephony (GSM, WLL, Wired) especially for very remote areas like Chaghi Balochistan, Broadband (wired and wireless), Tele-centers, Tele-medicine, and E-services for AIOU, Nadra, Post Office. Moreover, high capacity to carry all different types of ICT Traffic e.g. Voice, data, video etc., improving the ICT services in rural areas, thereby help in bridging the digital divide, availability of Optical Fiber Backbone to all find it viable to invest and operate, while it also provides subsidy to commercial telecom operators and non commercial government organizations which will help expand ICT services to far flung areas, reduce its cost and increase ICT Penetration, and finally providing high quality back haul services for rural Broadband and up-coming next generation services such as 3G etc.