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USF contracts cellular operator for broadband access to Fata

Updated February 07, 2019

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The contract worth Rs258m has been awarded to Jazz. — File photo
The contract worth Rs258m has been awarded to Jazz. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: The Universal Service Fund (USF) awarded a contract worth Rs258 million to a private cellular operator for deploying broadband services in North Waziristan tribal district.

The contract was awarded to Jazz, which will also take mobile broadband access to the people in frontier regions Bannu and Lakki Marwat.

Out of the Rs258m, the government subsidy amounts to Rs198mn.

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The contract was signed by Universal Service Fund chief executive officer Rizwan Mustafa Mir and Jazz chief corporate and enterprise officer Ali Naseer.

The contract has been awarded by the USF under its ‘Broadband for Sustainable Development Programme’.

Federal Minister for Information Techno­logy and Telecommunication (MoITT) Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui — who was invited as the chief guest to the ceremony — said that the Ministry of IT and Telecom had achieved yet another significant connectivity milestone.

Rs258m work involves official subsidy of Rs198m

He added that with such projects, the IT ministry through the USF would continue to work towards achieving the mission of broadband penetration across the country to facilitate the people in rural areas. He said that in addition to broadband infrastructure, he expected the USF to launch new e-services and m-services to facilitate digital lifestyle adoption for the people of Pakistan.

Under the ministry, the USF has been mandated to spread broadband connectivity to far-flung settlements still without basic internet connections and facilities.

Speaking on the occasion, USF CEO Rizwan Mir said that with the signing of the North Waziristan contract, the organisation’s aim was to provide voice and data services to remote and underserved areas of Pakistan where it was most critical for development.

He added that this network would be completed in 24 months for providing 3G/4G and voice services to a population of 0.57 million in 401 unserved mouzas.

The official said that with the improvement of law and order situation in the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), provision of advanced ICT infrastructure would be a key to the development efforts in the region.

He said that the USF enjoyed support of the MoITT as well as the ICT industry in the common mission to continuously work towards expanding broadband to all Pakistanis. He pointed out that the USF was planning to launch several new broadband projects over the next few months, including the one in South Waziristan.

While addressing the audience, Jazz chief corporate and enterprise officer Ali Naseer said: “Through this collaboration, Jazz and USF have successfully bridged the digital divide in the country’s remotest region.

“This is why the project has special significance for us and in due time residents of 401 administrative mouzas will have access to the country’s fastest mobile broadband connectivity. We are looking forward to assisting these people in unlocking their potential in an increasingly interconnected world.”

The participants of the signing ceremony were informed about the USF-Jazz partnership that would also open up new progressive opportunities for local communities such as e-commerce.

Digital and e-services are a rapidly evolving field and can provide better health, education, agriculture and business opportunities to the people in these areas. In order to execute this project, 28 towers will be installed by Jazz in a year.

Published in Dawn, February 7th, 2019