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COVID-19 TOTAL DAILY
CASES 281,136 675
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Sindh 122,016 Cases
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Balochistan 11,780 Cases
Islamabad 15,122 Cases
KP 34,324 Cases

ISLAMABAD: The Universal Service Fund (USF) Board on Monday approved award of contracts worth Rs518 million to the PMTL (Ufone) for Next Generation Broadband for Sustainable Development project in Balochistan.

Federal Secretary Ministry of IT and Telecom Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui chaired 72nd Board of Directors meeting of the USF, here on Monday. Chairman PTA Maj Gen Amir Azeem Bajwa (retired) also attended the meeting through video conferencing.

The board approved award of contracts to the PMTL (Ufone) for Next Generation Broadband for Sustainable Development projects in Balochistan worth Rs518 million in total.

The projects comprise Bolan Lot (Kacchi Bolan and Jhal Magsi districts) and Gwadar district.

The hi-speed mobile broadband services in Bolan Lot will benefit an unserved population of around 440,293 people, thereby covering 582 unserved mauzas and an approximate unserved area of 11,344 square kilometres.

Further, an unserved population of 2,760 will gain advantage from hi-speed mobile broadband services in nine unserved mauzas of Gwadar district.

Secretary IT Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui put lot of emphasis on the evolving need for having access to hi-speed mobile broadband due to spread of the coronavirus to facilitate the people. He said the connectivity in far-flung areas during the pandemic would enable the people to make use of government facilities.

Siddiqui added that those projects would help the people to seek online medical consultations, would enable the students to take online classes, and to run businesses digitally.

Moreover, the federal secretary stated that the Ministry of IT and Telecom was making every effort to bridge the digital divide under the vision of "Digital Pakistan" as the economy heavily relied on the hi-speed mobile broadband to minimise the disruption caused by the Covid-19.

The USF Board also approved the operational and programme budget of the USF for FY 2020-21.

In the next financial year, around 4,226 mauzas in 38 districts will be provided mobile broadband benefitting a population of more than 10 million.

In the Optic Fiber Programme, around 4,652 kms of optic fiber cable will be laid, which will connect 547 unserved union councils covering 18 districts.

Other board members comprising Shabahat Ali Shah, Executive Director, NITB; Irfan Wahab, CEO-Telenor Pakistan; Imran Akhtar Shah, VP for Government Sales, Super Net Pvt Ltd and Nominee of Data Licensees; Rashid Khan, CEO PTCL and Nominee of Fixed Line Operators; Kaukab Iqbal, Chairman, Consumer Association of Pakistan and Nominee of Consumer Group and management of USF Co also attended the meeting.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020