Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunications (IT&T) in its meeting was given a detailed briefing by Universal Services Fund (USF) on the availability of telecommunication services and projects launched in FATA as well as other less developed areas of the country during the last five years. The meeting was held with Senator Rubina Khalid in the chair here at the Parliament House on Thursday and was attended among others by Senators Rukhsana Zuberi, Kalsoom Parveen, Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, Faisal Javed Khan, Abdur Rehman Malik, Taj Muhammad Afridi, Ghous Muhammad Khan Niazi, Sana Jamali, Fida Muhammad, Mian Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh, Minister for IT&T Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Secretary IT&T Maroof Afzal, Chief Executive Officer USF Rizwan Mukhtar.
The Committee was told that from a total of 6,061 union councils in the country, 1,051 already have fibre optics network, 1,870 have fibre optics without nodes while 3,140 union councils do not have fibre optic presence. USF has initiated its special project to lay fibre optics network in all the uncovered areas and the Board of Directors has given approval for the project. It was also told that the cabinet has recently approved the project of providing high speed broadband for 11 uncovered cities including Sukkur, DG Khan, Dadu, Bahawalpur, Mirpurkhas, Larkana, Mastung, Turbat, Chitral, Pishin. The USF aims to provide broadband facility in 46 districts covering a population of 3 crore.
The Committee also discussed the issues in bringing PayPal services to Pakistan, the problems in bank transaction for freelancing contributors in the country, IT trainings and electronic services. The Committee was told that the covered area for voice communication and data has increased manifolds since USF has enhanced its operations. USF officials observed that all projects are allocated as result of open transparent competitive bidding.