ISLAMABAD: The Policy Committee of the Universal Service Fund (USF) on Saturday approved 30 projects — the highest so far — for FY22, with an allocation of more than Rs18 billion for establishing IT and telecom infrastructure in the country
The meeting was informed that under the present government, the USF has shown a 100 per cent increase in the number of projects. There were only six projects in FY19, followed by 12 projects in FY20 while 25 projects were approved in FY21.
Chairing the meeting, Federal Minister for IT and Telecommunication Syed Amin Ul Haque said infrastructure development for uninterrupted high speed mobile broadband services was essential at national highways. Having optical fibre cable networks at Union Councils level across the country is one of the prerequisites for the future digital needs of the country including the introduction of the 5G, Mr Haque added.
The federal minister said the USF was playing a key role to bring broadband services and optical fibre projects in rural and remote areas across the country which will help the fulfillment of Digital Pakistan initiative.
The upcoming projects of the USF include powering of telecommunication site through solar energy, to maintain sustainability and financial viability in remote areas where the supply of fuel for power generation was difficult.
On the occasion, USF CEO Haaris Mahmood Chaudhary said the project in Kohistan region has faced delays due to extreme weather conditions and difficult routes while one project was facing delays in the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
However, these projects are only 5pc of the total projects and 95pc of the projects are progressing as per the schedule, he added.
The meeting was attended by the Federal Secretary IT Dr Sohail Rajput, and other officers.
USF is a subsidiary of the Ministry of IT which aims to expand the internet and telecom services to remote areas of the country where the telecom companies and the internet service providers do not enter as such areas were not commercially viable.
The fund consists of 1.5pc of adjusted revenues of the telecom operators and various contracts for the development of IT and telecom infrastructures are awarded through auction and the amount is paid from the fund.
Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2021