January 5, 2018
LAHORE: The government, after successful bidding has handed over more than 12 projects to few telecom operators in Balochistan, a largely untapped market with increasing significance due to mega projects like the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
After deployment of telecom network and services in major parts of the country, telecom operators are set to unleash the potential of the province, which has the lowest number of mobile phone users. Around 46 percent of the 12.3 million population has no access to either mobile, wireless or a fixed line network in the largest geographical province of Pakistan.
Universal Service Fund (USF), an autonomous organisation under the Ministry of Information Technology, has set out an aggressive strategy to roll out the basic infrastructure of telecommunication, basic telephone and internet service for people and businesses in the largest province.
According to the USF spokesperson, the current USF projects include 3G services in CPEC adjoining areas such as Kharan-Washuk, Kalat, Khuzdar, Sibi, Zhob, Kohistan, DI Khan, Khyber and Dera Bugti.
“These services will certainly enhance the socio-economic betterment of these areas and will increase the effectiveness of CPEC project,” he said.
Out of more than 12 projects handed over to telecom operators after competitive bidding process to roll out telecom and internet systems in Balochistan, Ufone won the most, the spokesperson said.
Projects have been awarded to provide mobile broadband services in Awaran-Lasbela, Kharan-Washuk and Dera Bugti in 2017.
In addition to this, computer labs have also been established at Pakistan Baitul Mal centres in Balochistan, he added.
“The financing of USF is indispensable towards the expansion and penetration of ICT services across the province, which is likely to give a synergetic effect to CPEC and attract cellular operators to expand their respective network within the province.”
Expanding telecom services in Balochistan was a priority for Ufone, which has extensive plans to further develop telecommunication infrastructure in the province. This would include providing voice and data services under 3G licenses, said an official of the Ufone.
Ufone has been awarded projects worth Rs14.2 billion in various cities, including Sibi, Kalat, Khuzdar, Chagai, Awaran, Kharan-Washuk and Dera Bugti districts, the official said.
The competition among the telecom operators would intensify in the years to come with the increase in demand of the public and overseas and local businessmen in different cities of the province.
This competition would increase because various infrastructure projects in industrial and social development sectors were being planned and built in the province, including bridge, highways, power generation, banks, corporations, schools and colleges, and hospital and dispensaries.
In addition to these developments, influx of educated, skilled and high income people would speed up in Balochistan from different provinces and countries particularly from China