ISLAMABAD, Aug 21 (APP): The government, considering importance to enhance financial and digital inclusion, would provide around 30,000 smartphones with Rs. 250 balance per month among Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) beneficiaries.

The smartphones having 3G services would be provided in un-served and under-served areas of Balochistan and FATA under a programme which would be funded by Universal Service Fund (USF) as the government has upgraded its scope. The distribution of smartphones among the BISP beneficiaries with launch of upcoming broadband projects for providing 3G services in Balochistan and FATA.

Sources at Ministry Information Technology and Telecommunications on Sunday said the latest reports have revealed that Pakistan scored 69 percent on financial and digital inclusion and remained at 14th position among 26 emerging or third world countries.

Further they would also be given Rs. 250 balance every month, training, besides different apps to increase mobile adaptability including a know how of e-commerce etc. The BISP beneficiaries would get information about the amount they are receiving from the government which would mitigate the fraud chances.

The sources said pilot project would cover Sibi, Harnai, Barkhan, Loralai-Zhob, Musakhel, Sherani-Kalat, Kharan/Washuk, Kohlu Dera Bugti, Kohistan and entire FATA with all 7 Agencies.

BISP has already launched e-commerce facility for promotion of handicraft skills of BISP beneficiaries, aimed at providing them better access for their products in national and international markets.

The objective is to alleviate poverty in rural and semi-urban areas of Pakistan by supporting rural based micro and small enterprises. Market access to the products of marginalized segments will contribute in their welfare and the effects of such measures will also give boost to the economy of Pakistan.

Regarding USF Board’s meeting, the sources said it has taken in to consideration important upcoming projects including approval of 40 tele-centres, small lots, establishment of computer labs initially in 100 Girl’s Schools run under Islamabad Capital Territory Administration.

According to official documents, USF Company has been mandated to provide telecommunication coverage to un-served and under-served areas across Pakistan. Different programmes have been designed and multiple projects have been undertaken to achieve the goals set forth by federal government.

Under the USF program broadband programme was initiated to provide broadband internet services in urban areas of 2nd and 3rd tier cities.

USF has provided internet connectivity to 449,896 subscribers in 406 towns and established 1328 educational broadband centers and 369 community broadband centers.

However, with the evolution of 3G/4G ecosystem objectives of this programme have been merged into the rural telephony and e-service programme.

Rural Telephony & e-Services (RTeS) programme has been the main programme of USF whereby both last mile and backhaul components of telecommunication infrastructure have been provisioned in un-served areas. The programme has transformed from provision of basic telephony and data services to mobile broadband internet and telephony (3G/4G) services. Basic telephony and data services have so far been provided to 4,297 mauzas.

Additionally 611 PCOs and 52 Tele-centres have also been established. With increasing demand of high speed broadband internet services, a reliable, scalable, high speed and high capacity backhaul infrastructure is of prime importance. USF has laid about 6,447 km of Optical Fiber Cable connecting 74 tehsil headquarters and major towns’ en-route.

Telecentres project focuses on establishment of shared access points for broadband services. These centers will also provide a venue for select government e-services. Over the period of next three years USF will establish about 500 such Telecentres. Projects to establish 275 Telecentres will be launched in year 2016-17, documents maintained.

Meanwhile, a pilot phase of BISP’s new poverty survey started from Haripur where Desk Approach (Self-Registration) has been adopted. BISP has set up 52 operational counters at 31 operational sites in collaboration with NADRA.

Till date, 25% of the expected registration has been completed and by October 2016, registration process will be completed in Haripur.