PAKISTAN’S USF COMPANY TO BRING BEST PRACTICES IN UNIVERSAL SERVICE FUND IMPLEMENTATION TO THE SAMENA MEMBERSHIP

SAMENA Telecommunications Council has announced that Universal Service Fund Company (USF) of Pakistan has become the world’s foremost USF institutions to join its multi-regional membership of operators, technology companies, regulatory authorities, and government institutions.

USF, established by the government of Pakistan to expand basic telephony and broadband connectivity to impoverished and under-served areas, and ranked globally among a handful of most successful and exemplary implementations of the universal service fund, has been at the forefront of bridging the digital divide within Pakistan since 2007. Credited globally for operating transparently and effectively, USF has represented Pakistan as a model country in terms of telecommunications growth, public-private sector collaboration, and effective implementation of both government policies and advanced technologies to bring connectivity to the common man.

In a market of 170 million inhabitants and where GSM coverage exceeds 80%, USF has been achieving its targets of financing the expansion of telecommunications services in collaboration with and by being solely reliant on private sector telecommunications operators’ financial contributions. Such telecommunications services include basic telephony, broadband internet, optical fiber networks establishment, and community tele-centers.

Over the years, apart from rural telecoms projects in un-served “lots”, USF has also been focusing on proliferating broadband in un-served second and third-tier towns and cities. In the mean time, USF has also proceeded towards establishing fiber-optic “motorways” to the unserved sub-district administrative divisions in each of the four provinces of Pakistan.

Furthermore, USF, with a goal to establishing multi-purpose community tele-centers all over Pakistan, is now in the process of starting citizen-centric services in the rural areas of the country, thus propelling the use of information and communication technology tools and e-services. Recently, USF has been emphatic on the implementation of alternative energy solutions to expand telecommunications services in Pakistan.

Parvez Iftikhar, USF’s chief executive officer, feels that “…In joining SAMENA, USF Pakistan would be able lead a cross-regional dialogue on universal service funding. It is one more area in which Pakistan has excelled and we believe our country has served and can continue to serve as a role model for other regional countries – just like World Bank and ITU recently asked us to help improve universal service implementations in Indonesia and Thailand. We thank SAMENA for making USF Pakistan a part of its membership and hope to contribute to SAMENA’s endeavors.”

Considering USF to be a major player in Pakistan’s public and private sectors, SAMENA’s chief executive officer and executive manager director, Tom Wilson, said that “Universal Service Fund’s activities over the past three years epitomize the way the expansion of telecommunications services should happen. SAMENA now has this region’s most active and successful universal service implementation agency on board to take on leadership roles.”

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