ISLAMABAD: The Universal Service Fund (USF) has awarded a contract worth Rs6.78 billion to Ufone for providing high-speed mobile broadband services in Balochistan’s Sibbi district and along the 800km M-8 Motorway.

Federal Minister for IT and Telecommunication Syed Aminul Haque and Federal Minister for Science and Technology Agha Hassan Baloch witnessed the contract signing ceremony and launch of USF’s Research Impact Assessment Study here on Thursday.

The contract was signed by Haaris Mahmood Chaudhary, CEO of USF, and Hatem Bamatraf, President and Group CEO of PTCL and Ufone 4G.

Mr Haque lauded the USF’s performance for extending meaningful connectivity access to the people of Balochistan, and its positive impact on enhancing highway safety.

He added that the USF amount was underutilised until 2018, but in the last five years, 83 projects worth Rs77bn were implemented across the country in former Fata, interior Sindh, and south Punjab, where connectivity remains a serious issue.

USF’s Impact and Research Study commended

He said that during the last five years, the USF has launched 21 new projects worth Rs27.12bn, providing high-speed 4G broadband data services in various districts of Balochistan.

Agahi CEO Puruesh Chaudhary presented an introduction to the Research Impact Assessment Study focused on the connectivity projects launched by the USF.

She said that IT and telecom have made a remarkable impact on the local population, providing them with access to knowledge, digital financing, earning opportunities through social media, and reducing the physical effort required for various tasks.

“The [availability of] telephony and internet connectivity has had a positive impact on the lives of rural communities across Pakistan,” she said, adding that the study provided valuable insights into the transformative power of bridging the digital divide.

Published in Dawn, July 14th, 2023

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