Universal Service Fund (USF) has spread telecom services specifically in far-flung areas of Pakistan. Now experts are looking for their role again for the promotion of broadband services across Pakistan.
Balochistan, largest province of Pakistan by area,
Pakistan’s largest province by area, through USF projects worth billions of rupees and services by various telecommunication operators, has witnessed the development of telecom infrastructure in 2017.
since 2007, USF under the Ministry of Information Technology has disbursed grants worth Rs50 billion to different operators for projects in different telecom regions.
Ufone received the highest subsidy of Rs14 billion followed by PTCL with Rs12.2 billion and Telenor with Rs5.2 billion.
According to the USF spokesperson and USF data 5 out of 6 optical fiber projects are based in Balochistan. Balochistan has the lowest number of mobile phone user that about 46% population has access to either mobile, wireless or a fixed line network leaving a big room for improvement.
USF spokesman further said that since January 2017, USF has been working to spread telephone and now broadband services in far-flung areas like Awaran-Lasbela, Kohistan, Kharan-Washuk, Dera Bugti, Khyber, and Mohmand. This effort from USF will create opportunities and uplift socioeconomic life of the people.
Parvez Iftikhar, USF CEO, said that USF ready to launch broadband services by three steps laying fiber optic cables, digital literacy and creating local content. Apart from introducing the services, USF will also train people in schools, hospitals, government offices or other places for social gathering.
USF will also need to create local content and translate into different languages about their daily life like new techniques of farming or tips about cattle rearing in local language.
Iftikhar further added that in this way demand for cellular companies and internet services. Recently low-cost smartphone running on light-weight mobile software Android Oreo Go has been launched by Google in India at a price of Rs2,000. Soon the phone will be introduced in Pakistan that is a potential market for telecommunication products and services.
USF spokesperson added that financing is indispensable for the expansion and penetration of ICT services across Balochistan.USF has more than Rs60 billion in books, though the government is believed to have transferred Rs50 billion to the Ministry of Finance in order to pay circular debt. ICT promotion can also give a synergetic effect to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and will help to expand their network within the province.