The Universal Service Fund (USF) Board approved four projects worth approximately Rs. 2.14 billion to provide high-speed internet to approximately 2.2 million people in un-served and under-served areas of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces.

The Internet contracts awarded to Telenor and Jazz and Optic Fiber Cable contract to Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd. (PTCL).

The Board also approved the USF’s budget worth approximately Rs. 18 Billion for the fiscal year 2021-22. The Federal Secretary for Ministry of IT and Telecommunication and Chairman of USF Board, Dr. Sohail Rajput, chaired the 77th Board of Directors meeting of USF in Islamabad on Monday.

While addressing the meeting, Dr. Sohail said, “The Ministry of IT and Telecommunication through USF is ensuring adequate access to communication infrastructures for all citizens for the realization of Digital Pakistan vision.”

The Federal Secretary also added that as advised by the Federal Minister for IT and Telecommunication, Syed Amin Ul Haque, the Board has approved these projects to improve rural populations’ standard of living, create jobs, and make access to government services easier.

Haaris Mahmood Chaudhary, Chief Executive Officer of USF, briefed Board about the ongoing and upcoming projects. He welcomed Dr. Sohail Rajput as Chairman of the USF Board. “USF is committed to provide the digital way to connect the peoples with the Digital World by its projects and will strengthen partnerships, develop strategic alliances and further expand its footprint,” he added.

According to the details, the Board approved the award of contracts under the Next Generation Broadband for Sustainable Development (NGBSD) program worth around Rs. 1.19 billion to Telenor and Jazz that will benefit an unserved population of over 1 million and an approximate unserved area of 6,280 sq. km.

Telenor is being awarded the contract of Okara, Pakpattan, and Sahiwal districts in Punjab that will serve an unserved population of around 0.57 million in 778 unserved muazas and an approximate unserved area of 1,540 sq. km.

Similarly, Jazz is being awarded the contract of Attock and Rawalpindi districts in the Punjab and Bannu, Lakki Marwat districts in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

This will benefit an unserved population of approximately 0.5 million in 423 unserved muazas and approximately 4,740 sq. km of unserved area.

The Board also approved the award of a contract under the Optic Fiber Cable (OFC) program to PTCL for Layyah and DG Khan Districts in Punjab.

The OFC project is valued at approximately Rs. 950 million that aims at laying of 469 km of OFC to connect 49 towns and union councils thereby providing Broadband access to an unserved population of approximately 1.15 million.

Other Board members comprising Muhamad Omar Malik, Member-Telecom MoITT, Major General (R) Amir Azeem Bajwa, Chairman-PTA, Shabahat Ali Shah, CEO-NITB, Irfan Wahab, CEO-Telenor Pakistan, Imran Akhtar Shah, VP for Government Sales-Super Net Pvt Ltd and Nominee of Data Licensees, Kaukab Iqbal, Chairman-Consumer Association of Pakistan and Nominee of Consumer Group, and management of USF also attended the meeting.