USF Disburses Record Subsidy of Rs 4.2bn
Universal Service Fund (USF) disbursed a subsidy of Rs4.2 billion during the previous fiscal year for its projects to provide telecom services across the country.
USF was established to spread the benefits of the telecommunication to all corners of the country, especially un-served and under-served areas. In March 2014, the funds lying under the head of USF and Research and Development Fund became a subject of controversy when the government withdrew around Rs70bn and put it in the federal consolidated fund.
Taking notice of this move, the Supreme Court sought answers as to why and how the government could draw the money meant specifically to provide telecom services at low costs in the far-flung areas.
The funds were accumulated through contributions from the cellular companies for spreading telecom and internet services. The USF projects embodying the provision of basic telephony and data services, broadband in unserved urban areas, optic fibre to connect un-served districts and e-services were necessary for socio-economic opportunities and playing a beneficial role in improving the lives of people all over the country.
Under its rural telecom programme, USF has been working to provide basic telephony and data services in almost 4,000 muzas, which include areas where people had to walk several kilometers to make a phone call.
Broadband services have been provided in 288 cities and towns along with more than 520,000 broadband connections. Broadband programme also includes establishment of 1,100 Educational Broadband Centres (EBCs) in higher secondary schools and colleges and more than 300Community Broadband Centres (CBCs) for people who cannot afford to have their own computers.
Under Optic Fibre Programme, more than 5,000-km-long cable has been laid to connect un-served districts and towns. The project to establish telecentres would also be launched in the near future to further expand opportunities for people.
In the statement, USF said these projects were likely to create better telecommunication facilities in the un-served and under-served areas of the country which in turn had an impact on education, health and overall capacity building of these communities.