ISLAMABAD-Federal Secretary Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui chaired 72nd Board of Directors meeting of Universal Service Fund and approved award of contracts to PMTL (Ufone) for Next Generation Broadband for Sustainable Development Projects in Balochistan worth Rs518 Million in total. The projects comprise Bolan Lot (Kacchi Bolan and Jhal Magsi districts) and Gwadar district. The Hi-speed mobile Broadband services in Bolan lot will benefit an un-served population of around 440,293 people thereby covering 582 un-served mauzas and an approximate un-served area of 11,344 sq. km. Similarly, an un-served population of 2,760 will gain advantage from Hi-speed mobile Broadband services in 09 unserved mauzas of Gwadar district.

Chairman PTA Maj. Gen (R) Amir Azeem Bajwa also attended the meeting through videoconferencing. The Secretary IT, Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui put lot of emphasis on the evolving need for having access to hi-speed mobile Broadband due to spread of coronavirus to facilitate the people. He said that the connectivity in far-flung areas during the pandemic will enable the people to make use of government facilities. He added that these projects will help the people to seek online medical consultations, will enable the students to take online classes and to run businesses digitally. Moreover, the Federal Secretary stated that the Ministry of IT & Telecom is making every effort to bridge the digital divide under the vision of Digital Pakistan as the economy heavily relies on the hi-speed mobile broadband to minimize the disruption caused by COVID-19.

The USF Board also approved the Operational & Programme Budget of USF for FY 20-21. In the next Financial Year, around 4,226 mauzas in 38 districts will be provided mobile broadband benefitting a population of more than 10 Million. In Optic Fibre Programme, around 4,652 km of optic fibre cable will be laid which will connect 547 un-served Union Councils covering 18 districts.