ISLAMABAD     -           The Board of Directors of Universal Service Fund (USF) has approved award of contracts worth Rs729 million to Telenor and PMTL (Ufone) for Next Generation Broadband for Sustainable Development Projects.

Federal Secretary Ministry of IT and Telecommunication Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui chaired 70th Board of Directors meeting of Universal Service Fund (USF) and Chairman PTA Maj. Gen (R) Amir Azeem Bajwa was also present in the meeting.

The Board approved award of contracts to Telenor and PMTL (Ufone) for Next Generation Broadband for Sustainable Development Projects worth PKR 729 Million in total. Telenor is being awarded the contract of Muzaffargarh Lot and Small Lot I-1 (district: Islamabad) while PTML (Ufone) is being awarded the contract of Small Lot P-4 (Bhakkar, Khushab, Jhang and Mianwali).

During the meeting, Secretary IT was apprised about the advances in USF projects. The Hi-speed Broadband services in Mazaffargarh lot will benefit an unserved population of around 2 million thereby covering 666 unserved muazas and an approximate unserved area of 14,195 sq. km. Muzaffargarh Lot encompasses Muzaffargarh and Ranjanpur districts.

Similarly, an unserved population of 9,083 will gain advantage from Hi-speed Broadband services in Small Lot I-1 that covers Islamabad district with 12 unserved mauzas.

Likewise, the Hi-speed Broadband services in Small Lot P-4 will benefit an unserved population of 86,968 thereby covering 11 unserved muazas and an approximate unserved area of 277 sq. km. Small Lot P-4 encompasses Bhakkar, Khushab, Jhang and Mianwali districts.

Secretary IT, Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui emphasized on the growing need for connectivity amid the spread of coronavirus to support the people of Pakistan.

 He said that the use of ICT in rural areas during the pandemic will help the remote public to access government facilities that are available. He also laid stress on the significant role of ICT in far-flung areas in each step of fighting the COVID-19 as some people are unable to get the information or services required. In addition, he also asserted that these projects will help the communities to start or run a modern business, access telemedicine or take an online class in these difficult times.

Furthermore, Federal Secretary stated that the Ministry of IT and Telecom is making every effort to bridge the digital divide under the vision of Digital Pakistan as the economy heavily relies on the internet to minimize the disruption caused by the lockdown.

Moreover, the members of the Board reiterated their full support to tackle the COVID-19 battle by ensuring to make progress in implementation of current and future projects of USF. The Board sincerely thanked the Secretary IT for providing direction and knowledge to achieve USF goals.