ISLAMABAD (APP) Universal Service Fund (USF) has so far awarded 12 contracts with subsidy of Rs. 6.3 billion to provide modern broadband services in the unserved areas of the country. Under the programme, launched to ensure 0.44 million broadband connections, around 0.2 million connections have been provided to improving its penetration in the areas which are un-served from the broadband perspective. A senior official at USF on Sunday told APP that an amount of Rs. 1.06 billion has so far been disbursed as subsidy, saying special emphasis is being paid to educational institutions, whereby the subsidy winners are required to set-up Computer Labs (Educational Broadband Centres) with Broadband in ultimately 2,000 higher secondary schools and colleges. Contracts have been awarded for 1,173 such centres out of which around 800 centres have been established in their respective areas. Similarly, the official said of the contracted 345 Community Broadband Centres, USF has also successfully established around 227 such Centres for people who cannot afford computers. The broadband programme is also giving boost to provision of other e-services like e-health, e-government, e-commerce etc, he said, adding that through these projects broadband services have started in around 240 cities and towns. Replying to a question, the officials said USF is constantly monitoring these projects with the aim to bring transparency and more efficiency. Regarding benefits of the project, the official said broadband programme aims to deliver the social and economic benefits of ICTs to the masses through affordable broadband, thus helping to achieve governments objective of breaking the poverty cycle and eliminating the social divide. Broadband is also a key element of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals on poverty reduction and is globally bringing a paradigm shift to the way people run their lives. It is also transforming every facet of communications, from entertainment and telephone services to delivery of vital services like health care. According to 'The Lisbon Consensus, adopted at the 4th International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Policy Forum, the intervention of government for broadband penetration has also been endorsed.