IT ministry planning to provide broadband subsidy under USF
ISLAMAABD (March 20 2008): Ministry of Information and Technology is seriously considering to provide broadband subsidy under Universal Services Framework (USF) to enhance its very poor penetration, it was learnt.
Sources said that a study on Broadband penetration conducted by the IT Ministry exposed poor broadband penetration particularly, when the USF Company is targeting one per cent penetration by 2010. Presently there are only 0.1 million users in Pakistan and 1.5 million new connections are required by 2010 to meet the set target.
To realise the broadband penetration, the Ministry has conducted three subsidy options including no broadband subsidy and everything should be left to the market mechanism, broadband subsidy should be handled as part of basic telecom USFC lots and the last that there should be separate broadband subsidy lots.
The Ministry has opted for third option of separate broadband subsidy under improved USF Company Lot framework as this seems the best effort to kick off and proliferate broadband penetration in the country with optimal choice.
The Ministry realising the benefits and importance of broadband penetration proposed five year programme with 4 to 5 per cent penetration targets by end of 2013.
To achieve the above targets an auction process similar to that of the Rural Telephony model would be adopted. The auction process would start with bidding for a region followed by contract signing within 6 weeks of the bidding date. It has been realised that larger number of target broadband connections would require longer time, as such the following target time lines have been proposed.
Pakistan is far behind in broadband penetration, despite the fact that government issued an aggressive Broadband Policy back in 2004 with a modest target of 200K till 2007 (at the end of 2007 there are around 115,000 Broadband connections). Although Pakistan has made big stride in the field of telecom, it has been left behind in the field of Broadband Internet.