According to trustworthy sources, all of the cellular mobile operators (CMOs) have asked the Universal Service Fund (USF) to postpone the implementation of 10 new projects totaling about Rs. 8 billion that are intended for remote and underserved areas of the nation.
According to official sources, CMOs requested in a letter to USF that projects be delayed since they are having major issues with imports as a result of limitations and letters of credit (LCs) that have not been opened.
USF sources confirmed the letter and stated that more discussion over the deployment of new projects is still taking place.
So far, USF has signed contracts for 130 projects totaling around Rs. 124 billion across the nation, with the goal of extending telecom services to underserved and unserviced areas.
However, due to the LCs margin problem, which is impeding progress and delaying the timely completion of projects in the pipeline, USF is faced with a number of difficulties, including the import of equipment.
According to official documents, the Fund is also dealing with a number of other problems, including security threats, mobility restrictions, infrastructure damage caused by terrorist attacks, equipment theft, community problems, land disputes, local administration, NOCs from local administration/DCs, forested lands, and the most recent import restrictions.
To extend cellular, broadband internet, fiber optic, and other communications services to unserved or underserved areas, the fund was established in 2007.
Every telecom company has been giving the fund 1.5 percent of their earnings. Before USF was introduced in 2006-07, there was a 44 percent coverage of telecommunications.
According to documents, of the total Rs. 123.5 billion subsidies,
- Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) took a major chunk of Rs. 36.7 billion (29.7 percent)
- Ufone Rs. 30.2 billion (24.4 percent)
- Telenor Rs. 27.7 billion (23 percent)
- Zong Rs. 5.637 billion (4.5 percent)
- Wateen Rs. 4.847 (3.93 percent)
- WorldCall Rs. 1.273 billion (1.03 percent)
- Jazz Rs. 12.237 billion (9.9 percent)
- Nayatel Rs. 3.314 billion (2.7 percent)
To read our blog on “PTA orders Telcos to improve internet service in underserved areas,” click here.