Sunday, May 1, 2011

Pakistan's Fast Broadband at Low Cost

Pakistan is working on a major roll-out of bonded VDSL2 to deliver 50 Mbps, five times the top speed of the nation's highest level of service today, at a construction cost of just $200-300 per home passed.



Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL), the nation’s state-controlled phone company, is deploying VDSL2 Bonding technology to provide existing digital subscriber line (DSL) customers with speeds up to 50 Mbps. The project leverages Alcatel-Lucent’s VDSL2 Bonding expertise and will be completed by the end of the second quarter of 2011, according to a report in Daily Times.



VDSL2 technology is a good cost-effective option for Pakistan to upgrade existing DSL because it could serve as a platform to deliver broadband, video, and phone service, much like AT&T’s U-verse known as triple-play. VDSL2 Bonding takes two copper-based VDSL2 lines per subscriber and aggregates them—almost doubling the bandwidths available to existing customers, or expanding high-speed broadband access to areas that are underserved today.

PTCL selected VDSL2 over fiber to the home (FTTH) primarily because of cost. With fiber installs twice as expensive as a DSL upgrade, a developing country like Pakistan couldn’t justify the higher price. VDSL is expected to be an important part of broadband expansion in the developing world, particularly in Africa, southeastern Europe, and central Asia. Longer term, Pakistan is building Fiber To The Home (FTTH) network for much higher bandwidths, and several thousand homes have already been wired with fiber as a pilot roll-out in Islamabad by a Pakistani Internet service provider (ISP) called Nayatel.



With just over a million broadband subscribers as of October 2010, Pakistan’s broadband subscriber base is small. But it is in the midst of explosive growth with an increase of 63.5% from the 643,892 in December 2009. While the DSL remains the main technology used to access broadband services in the country, alternative wireless solutions WiMAX and EV-DO are catching up fast. The number of DSL users grew by 96.5% from 262,661 in June 2009, according to Business Monitor International (BMI). By contrast, subscriber figures of WiMAX and EV-DO increased by 246.6% and 708.5% over the same period to reach 306,665 and 181,947 respectively. The popularity of mobile broadband services is likely due to more affordable pricing plans bundled with low-cost mobile devices. Moreover, two-thirds of the population reside in rural areas where fixed-line infrastructure remains poor and wireless broadband service therefore becomes an attractive and relatively cheaper method to bring connectivity to the underserved regions.



At current pricing, PTCL offers a basic broadband service package with a 256kbps connection limited to 1GB of data for Rs. 299 ($3.50) a month. This low-cost package is designed for users interested in email and light browsing, not heavy downloads and uploads.

The next level is the popular 2Mbps unlimited package for around Rs. 1499 ($17.78) a month. And then there is 10Mbps service for an expensive Rs. 8500 ($100) a month. With the upgrades, PTCL can either raise speeds, reduce prices, or a combination of both. Other than the 256kbps service, all other broadband packages from the company offer unlimited use.

Considering all the massive negative propaganda in the Indian and western media about Pakistan, it is interesting to see that some Americans are noticing the high-speed access build-out in the "failed state" of Pakistan by a state-owned telephone company.

In a provocatively titled post "Osama bin Laden Getting Faster Internet Than You Have: Pakistan’s 50Mbps Future", an American blogger Philip Dampier complains as follows: "While America’s heartland is being wired for 3Mbps DSL service, residents in Pakistan are getting ready for speeds up to 50Mbps thanks to a major broadband expansion in the country".

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Mobile Internet in South Asia

Media and Telecom Sectors Growing in Pakistan

Internet Service Providers of Pakistan

Poverty Reduction Through Telecom Access

Pakistan's Telecom Boom

Pakistan Tops Text Message Growth

WiMax Rollout in Pakistan

Mobile Internet in Pakistan

Smartphones in Pakistan

Low Literacy Threatens Pakistan's Future

Gender Gap in South Asia

Mobile Financial Services in Pakistan

ITU Internet Access Data by Countries

Financial Services in Pakistan

Distance Learning in Pakistan

Top 5 ICT4D Trends in 2010

ICT4D in Pakistani Hospital

ITCN Asia 2010 Conference in Karachi

State of Telecom Industry in Pakistan

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

only a short term fix 50MBps is the theoretical maximum VDSL can deliver.Whereas fibre can theoretically go way way up something like 500GBps so it is an investment that will be relevant atleast for the next 20-30 years.

100 Mbps fixed can be achieved with 4G wireless so whats the point in putting all that expensive VDSL2 equipment when twice the speed is available wireless with zero last mile infrastructure cost + mobility?

4G services go online in India end of this year btw...

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: ".Whereas fibre can theoretically go way way up something like 500GBps so it is an investment that will be relevant atleast for the next 20-30 years."

I agree.

It's more expensive longer-term project being implemented by another Pakistani company called Nayatel. It's started with a pilot rollout to several thousand homes in Islamabad.

The quickest way to offer 50 Mbps to millions of people for now is to do what PTCL is doing by upgrading DSL.

Anonymous said...

The quickest way to offer 50 Mbps to millions of people for now is to do what PTCL is doing by upgrading DSL.

Nope that is 4G broadband.VDSL2 is very very maintenance intensive with repeaters placed every 200 mts thus that many links that might break.

We already have VDSL2 in India from 2009 i.e 50MBps.Though we manage to do this in one single line not 2 lines as mentioned in this article.

Anyways the customer response is not very encouraging,basically as of now there is very little u can do with 50MBps that you can't with 16MBps(available at 1/4 the price).So people either get FTTH which is like 200MBps or they just go with the normal DSL 16 MBps or 3G HSDPA+ 21.6MBps and wait for 4G roll out next year...

That's the situation in India FYI..

Riaz Haq said...

Anon:

I wonder why the 2010 Oxford broadband study ranks Pakistan at 60, two places ahead of India at 62.

And the broadband tariffs are the lowest in Pakistan.

http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=20808&Cat=3

Riaz Haq said...

A Pakistani's tweets captured the events in Abbottabad in a twitter stream hours before Obama announced the killing of Osama Bin Laden, according to CNET news:

Even before U.S. special forces succeeded in their mission to capture or kill Osama bin Laden earlier today, Twitter users were recording a rough outline of the events to come.

Sohaib Athar, who describes himself as a 30-ish independent software consultant "taking a break from the rat-race by hiding in the mountains with his laptops," happened to be in Abbottabad, Pakistan, about 10 hours ago.

Athar heard the helicopters used during the raid. He shared updates live on Twitter, according to the microblogging service's timestamps. And he's likely to be a footnote in history as a result.

President Obama announced bin Laden's demise this evening, saying the elusive al-Qaeda leader was killed in a firefight and the identity of his body had been confirmed. (See related CNET story.)

Here are some excerpts from the conversation that Athar and other Twitter users had over the last 10 hours:

https://twitter.com/ReallyVirtual/status/64780730286358528
Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event). about 10 hours ago via TweetDeck

https://twitter.com/ReallyVirtual/status/64783440226168832
A huge window shaking bang here in Abbottabad Cantt. I hope its not the start of something nasty :-S about 10 hours ago via TweetDeck

https://twitter.com/ReallyVirtual/status/64792407144796160
@m0hcin all silent after the blast, but a friend heard it 6 km away too... the helicopter is gone too. about 9 hours ago via TweetDeck in reply to m0hcin

https://twitter.com/m0hcin/status/64791032579108864
Just talked to family in Abbottabad, say they heard three blasts one after another, don't know what really happened. about 10 hours ago via web

https://twitter.com/ReallyVirtual/status/64793269908930560
@m0hcin the few people online at this time of the night are saying one of the copters was not Pakistani... about 9 hours ago via TweetDeck in reply to m0hcin

https://twitter.com/m0hcin/status/64794837077065728
Seems something nasty happening in #Abbottabad, God save us. about 9 hours ago via web

https://twitter.com/ReallyVirtual/status/64796769418088448
Since taliban (probably) don't have helicpoters, and since they're saying it was not "ours", so must be a complicated situation #abbottabad about 9 hours ago via TweetDeck

https://twitter.com/ReallyVirtual/status/64798882332278785
The abbottabad helicopter/UFO was shot down near the Bilal Town area, and there's report of a flash. People saying it could be a drone. about 9 hours ago via TweetDeck

https://twitter.com/tahirakram/status/64797447821602816
@ReallyVirtual Damn. Unusual. Was it of Pakistan Army? about 9 hours ago via TweetDeck in reply to ReallyVirtual

https://twitter.com/ReallyVirtual/status/64800262354763776
@tahirakram very likely - but it was too noisy to be a spy craft, or, a very poor spy craft it was. about 9 hours ago via TweetDeck

https://twitter.com/ReallyVirtual/status/64892915167657984
@kursed Well, there were at least two copters last night, I heard one but a friend heard two, for 15-20 minutes. about 3 hours ago via TweetDeck in reply to kursed

https://twitter.com/naqvi/status/64883228590350336
i think the helicopter crash in Abbottabad, Pakistan and the President Obama breaking news address are connected. about 3 hours ago via web Retweeted by ReallyVirtual

https://twitter.com/ReallyVirtual/status/64892915167657984
Uh oh, now I'm the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it. about 2 hours ago via TweetDeck



Read more: http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-20058790-281.html#ixzz1LD0zXP60

Anonymous said...

2 Mbps at Rs 1499 wow you guys are lucky ....For most indians the only true UL plans available is BSNL UL750 plan with 512kbps speed.We all had high hopes for 3G from BSNL but it stopped all UL plans for 3G recently.Broadband in india sucks big time

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan’s imports of mobile handsets have swelled to reach Rs 33.5 billion during the July 2010 to March 2011 period, according to The Express Tribune:

According to figures released by the Federal Bureau of Statistics (FBS), mobile handset sales increased to Rs 33.5 billion ($392 million) from July 2010 to March 2011 as opposed to Rs 18 billion in the corresponding period of the previous fiscal year, showing a growth of 85 per cent in the third quarter of the current fiscal year.

On an average, imports worth Rs 3.72 billion were carried out every month in the period under-review. Handset imports in the month of March were recorded at Rs. 4.75 billion ($55.76 million), up 48 per cent from last year.

The sale of handsets increased to more than 9 million in the said period if average monthly sales are evaluated at 1 million in the nine months in accordance with data shared by market experts.

As per estimate, if 1 million handsets having an average cost of Rs 4,000 are sold every month, it translates into Rs 4 billion overall sales. Therefore imports and sales costs are almost the same.

The little difference in numbers of imports and sales figures shows the high demanding trend in the local market owing to change of technology and introduction of new designs of handsets.

Market experts said that more than 60 per cent of the market consists of handsets falling in the Rs 4,000 to Rs 9,000 price range. Pakistan’s market has a solid demand of high cost handsets that exceeds the Rs 50,000 benchmark.

Imports and sales are constituted of more than 70 per cent Chinese-made handsets whereas different brands such as Nokia, Sony Ericson, LG and Samsung have retained their 25 -30 percent share in the local markets.

Importers and dealers forecast that import and sales may be affected as the telecom authority has come up with strict regulations, which could slow down the inflow of Chinese-made handsets in the local markets.

Sales of Chinese brands with International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) are also expected to increase in the coming months.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are ITU Internet stats for South Asia:

Pakistan:

20,350,000 Internet users as of Jun/10, 11.5% penetration, per ITU.

3,145,840 Facebook users on December 31/10, 2.2% penetration

3,992,500 Facebook users on March 31/11, 2.1% penetration

India:

100,000,000 Internet users as of Dec/10, 8.5% penetration, per IWS.

17,289,020 Facebook users on December 31/10, 1.9% penetration rate.

23,042,800 Facebook users on March 31/11, 1.9% penetration rate.

Bangladesh:

1,429,200 Internet users as of Mar/11, 0.9% penetration, per FB.

995,560 Facebook users on August 31/10, 0.6% penetration rate.

1,429,200 Facebook users on March 31/11, 0.9% penetration rate.

Afghanistan:

1,000,000 Internet users as of Jun/10, 3.4% penetration, per ITU.

52,980 Facebook users on August 31/10, 0.2% penetration rate.

165,120 Facebook users on March 31/11, 0.6% penetration rate.

Daud Khan said...

riaz haq g u send lot of information, it is very helpful.

Riaz Haq said...

With the placement of UAE's Yahsat communication satellite by a European Ariane 5 ECA rocket on April 22, satellite broadband service by Yahclick in now expected to be available by the end of this year in Pakistan.

The price of customer premises equipment will be around $700 one time (deep discount on the $2000 cost) and the customer needs to pay $40 per month to enjoy 2Mbps of Unlimited Bandwidth Internet connection.

The satellite broadband internet service in Pakistan will provide Communication services to remote areas where telecom infrastructure does not already exist.

Yahsat 1B uses state of the art Ka band multi spot-beam technology, achieving high bandwidth.

Riaz Haq said...

PTA Chairman says Local manufacturing of smart phones, according a Daily Times report:

KARACHI: The local assembly and manufacturing of low-priced ‘smart phones’ will start soon in the country by Pakistani companies in collaboration with chip designers and Chinese manufacturers.

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Chairman Dr Muhammad Yaseen said this while talking to media persons at the interactive session for ICT stakeholders – ‘Connect ICT Forum 2011’, organised by Pegasus Consultancy at Karachi Expo Centre here Wednesday.

He said several memorandums of understanding (MoUs) have been signed recently, between local companies and Chinese manufacturers and chip designer Falcom for producing smart phones in Pakistan.

The event was organised by PTA in an effort to start local assembly and manufacturing of smart phones, which are currently being imported. Responding to a question about the misuse of SIMs, he said that PTA has blocked 16.5 million mobile SIMs and during the ongoing data cleansing under third phase, PTA is receiving 400,000 quests per day on its complaint number 668.

Yaseen hoped that no unidentified SIM will remain in cellular phone network after May 17, which is the last to confirm the validity of your SIM and clean your mobile phone record.

He said the sales of handsets will not be affected due to the ongoing data cleaning campaign.

Replying to a question about smuggled handsets, he said that PTA has submitted its input to the IT Ministry in which it has suggested two-pronged policy. First, to impose ban on these handsets at customs stage where IMEI numbers are not mentioned, and second, impose a ban on the sale of such phones in the country.

He pointed out that millions of mobile phone imports were allowed without type approval of authority after 2005, therefore handsets without IMEI numbers flooded the local markets.

To a question on mobile phone banking, he said that a final meeting will be held between PTA and State Bank of Pakistan to discuss and come out with consensus on modalities and authentication issues on May 11.

Earlier, speaking at the forum, he said that PTA will again arrange meetings between service providers and academia to encourage development in the ICT sector.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report in The Nation on PTCL data centers in Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD - PTCL, understanding the rapidly changing business environment and its growing reliance upon automation, has introduced region’s largest Data Centres in Karachi and Lahore. These centers are certified by the internationally recognized certification body, EPI.
This certification by an international body is the first data centre certification in Pakistan’s history and proves PTCL’s commitment to providing state of the art products and services backed by engineering and support for the Government and Enterprise markets of Pakistan, says a press release issued here on Wednesday.
PTCL Data Center services is an ideal choice for companies who want the flexibility to house their Primary, Disaster Recovery and/or Business Continuity sites and choose from a variety of cost reducing services as their business demands.
PTCL Data Centre solution provides customers managed and hosted cloud based services that comprise of computing as a service, processing as a service, storage as a service, software as a service, application hosting, infrastructure hosting, caging, co-location, disaster recovery as a service, backup solutions, hosted business solutions, unified communications and telepresence switching.
President PTCL Walid Irshaid said “PTCL is heavily investing in these ICT assets on behalf of our customers so that they can focus on their core competencies. Getting our Data Centers certified is further evidence that PTCL is committed to provide technology to the Govt and Enterprise markets of Pakistan of international standards.
This certification by an internationally recognized organization ensures that PTCL Data centers provide a reliable, responsive and resilient infrastructure, is designed and built using international standards and provides a secure, managed, climatically controlled environment for the housing and hosting of sensitive, mission-critical data and applications.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts of an Op Ed by William Martin, US Consul General, published in The Express Tribune:


Perhaps showing the generation gap, I did not know that Pakistan has such a lively and active blogging community, with over three million citizen-journalists freely reporting on virtually every topic under the sun. Pakistan has one of the fastest-growing Facebook and Twitter-using populations in the world, with over four million Facebook users. Remarkably, the per capita internet access in Pakistan is between 10-15 per cent of the total population — more than double that of neighbouring India. Using even the most conservative estimates, 20 million Pakistanis are regularly online, or the equivalent of the population of four Singapores.

Pakistan enjoys tremendous freedom of information and online expression. As a representative of the United States, I am keenly aware of the vibrancy of that free speech every time I log in to my computer or pick up a newspaper. Although a bit bruised sometimes, I welcome it! By amplifying the diversity of voices, social media is making life a richer experience for us all. And this is possible because Pakistanis are using their freedom of expression every day, online. Blogging is reinforcing the backbone of democracy – freedom of speech – a freedom that is enshrined in the US Constitution.

In Pakistan, the freedom of the press was earned over time, through the sacrifices of its people, especially the sacrifices of those in the media community. Journalists and bloggers now play a central role in the effort to institutionalise these hard won freedoms.

We must never forget, the many journalists who have been killed or injured as they sought to report on the challenges facing us today. They take extraordinary risks to enlighten us with the truth. Nobody embodied this commitment more than Syed Saleem Shahzad, who was senselessly murdered trying to pursue this truth. All of us are diminished by his passing. But, there is no doubt that his work will continue and others will pick up the baton and carry on. It is up to each of us to honour his legacy and do all we can to support press freedom as a fundamental right to be enjoyed by everyone, everywhere. Blog on.

Riaz Haq said...

PTCL brings 100 Mbits fiber to home service, according to Online News:

KARACHI: Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) has deployed its first ever Fiber to Home service based on Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) technology in Karachi.

PTCL with its commitment to provide the latest technology and innovative products to its customers has introduced its first ever Fiber to Home service in Karachi while this service is also available in Lahore and Islamabad as well, says a press statement received here on Wednesday.

GPON provides a capacity boost in both the total bandwidth and bandwidth efficiency through the use of larger, variable-length packets. It not only provides substantially higher efficiency as a transport network, but also delivers simplicity and superb scalability for future expansion in supporting additional services with lowest cost for all modes of operation.

With this unique capability PTCL has raised the bar of customer experience by many notches. Initially the service includes unprecedented voice quality on telephone, extremely fast and reliable broadband connectivity and digital television with amazing video quality.

PTCL’s SEVP, Business Zone South, Abdullah Yousef Abdullah said on this occasion, “PTCL will widely deploy Fiber to the home technology of which the first step has already been taken in some parts of Karachi giving our valued customers the opportunity to experience the latest technology and the best quality of service.

Our aim is to delight our customers with such innovative products right at their doorstep which suits their life styles and spending budgets”.


http://www.onlinenews.com.pk/details.php?id=183477

Riaz Haq said...

As part of the mobile broadband promotion campaign, PTCL's EVO-WiFi Cloud at 3G speeds (upto 3.1 Mbps) offers a mobile hotspot that intelligently converts your home/work/vehicle space into a personalized wifi zone anywhere in over 100 Pakistani cities and towns covered by EVO service. The EVO-WiFi cloud device costs Rs. 7000 upfront with Rs. 2000 a month for unlimited service.

PTCL has recently launched an Android based thin Apple iPAD2 like tablet computer with EVO 3G and WiFi connectivity built-in. 3G EVO Tab is a 7 inch touch screen tablet with built-in EVO service to offer wireless broadband internet on the go in more than 100 cities and towns across Pakistan. Powered by Google Android Froyo 2.2 Operating system, 3G EVO Tab offers support for both 3G and Wi-Fi for an un-interrupted on-the-go connectivity. With a 5 MegaPixel Camera, a variety of built-in applications, 3G EVO Tab lets users browse, snap, share, communicate, navigate, play games and do a lot more on-the go, thereby making it an ideal connectivity solution for users looking for high speed on-the-go 3G connectivity on an Android platform. PTCL 3G EVO Tab offers convenience and speed with three diverse economy packages to suit individual needs and pockets. Its 12-month bundle offer has been very successful with majority sales in this bracket.Customers can get EVO Tab for as low as Rs 7,999 plus 12-month unlimited EVO service, all at Rs 31,999. In addition to the 12-month contract, EVO Tab offers bundled packages based on 3 and 6 month contracts at Rs 27,999 and Rs 29,999, respectively with 3 and 6 month of unlimited EVO service.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2011/10/pakistan-launches-100-mbps-ftth.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report from The Nation newspaper on the growth of PTCL's broadband business:

LAHORE - The broadband segment of the telecom sector has witnessed a tremendous growth over the years, with subscribers growing by threee-year Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 85 percent.
According to telecom industry experts, though the growth could be attributed to a low base effect; nonetheless low broadband density of only 0.8 percent compared to country’s total teledensity of 69 percent leaves ample room for further growth.
Latest data reveals that in 1QFY12 PTCL’s DSL, customer base increased by 9 percent with a steady market share of 95 percent. Therefore, with available growth room, it is believed the broadband would also shoulder the declining fixed line business. Experts estimate that the broadband will contribute approximately 8 percent to the topline of the company in FY12.
They said that the segment growth prospects also stems from being the major beneficiary of company’s CAPEX program. In the last thee years, PTCL capital expenditure stood at Rs24b with major expansionary projects like expansion of optical fibre network in Balochistan to acquiring of VDSL2 bonding technology for high speed data transfer and many more all coming under the broadband segment.
The largest telecom operator has underperformed the broader KSE index by 33 percent during 2011YTD, on concerns of its ailing fixed line business segment. However, Muhammad Milwala, a telecom sector expert, believed that fixed line is only one-half of the PTCL coin and investors have overlooked the growth story in PTML (Ufone), PTCL’s 100 percent owned cellular firm. Therefore, in order to capture the complete essence of Ufone’s story, he advises investors to look at company’s consolidated earnings rather than stand-alone which is usually announced at the Karachi bourse after the PTCL board meeting.
This investment case is also driven from growth prospects of its broadband business (subscribers witnessed CAGR of 85 percent in last 3 years) that has a potential to cushion the decline of fixed line. Overall, it is expected company to post double-digit increase in consolidated profitability of 20pc.
Investors must only look at consolidated statistics as Ufone is becoming a large part of PTCL. Due to the changing dynamics of telecommunication industry (fixed line to wireless technology), Ufone has become the spearhead of PTCL’s earnings growth. As per estimates, the segment contributed approximately 47 percent to company’s topline while, approximately 50 percent of PTCL’ 1QFY12 is attributed to Ufone. During FY12, it is expected the pendulum would further swing towards Ufone, with estimate Ufone’s revenue to surpass that of its parent company and segment contribution to consolidated bottomline is estimated to stand around 68 percent. In addition to Ufone, broadband would also be the potential savior for PTCL.


http://nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Business/06-Nov-2011/Broadband-to-shoulder-declining-fixed-line-business

Riaz Haq said...

Here are parts of a Business Recorder report on mobile broadband prospects:

....Commenting on the adoption of new technologies by MNOs, Yaseen (PTA Chairman) asserts "the time has come for the introduction of 3G and 4G technology in the country".
---------
----------
"As long as the MNOs are not hurting the interests of customers, PTA does not actively regulate rates charged by them" reveals the PTA chairman, explaining that in the past when Mobilink was the only MNO in the local market, its rates were regulated much more stringently by the regulatory body, but that this practice was abandoned with the deregulation of this sector.

On the other hand, Yaseen insists that the regulator is very much involved in ensuring that customers' complaints and feedback are heeded.

He highlights that "PTA is the only regulator in the country that has specific regulations and mechanisms in place to address customers' grievances in the form of the Customer Protection Department (CPD)".

Focus on low costs, newer technology

Acknowledging that costs related to infrastructure development have gone up for MNOs, he lauded recent moves by different cellular service providers to share infrastructure.

He said that not only would such arrangements help lower costs for these companies, but also they would allow better coverage across the country when service providers move into un-served or under-served areas.
----------
When asked whether rising costs and a slower pace of growth in the number of cellular subscribers could force out some competitors from the local market, Yaseen responds, "although I personally believe that the size of the local market is big enough to accommodate all existing MNOs; still the market forces will determine the optimum number of operators for the local market".

While Yaseen appreciates the efforts of the industry in infrastructure development, he calls on policy makers to "go into 700 and 800 megahertz spectrums as the capital expenditure required in these spectrums is relatively low and they also supported 4G technology adequately".

The chairman explains that these bandwidths require lesser infrastructure to cover the same distance when compared to higher bandwidths.

He adds that higher spectrums can be tapped once economies of scale emerge and the use of smart phones becomes more popular in the local market.

Communication: a basic human right

"When it comes to broadband services, we believe the whole nation is currently under served and should be classified as such," he says adding that "the operators should be subsidised to enhance broadband services in the country."

Yaseen asserts that "communication is a basic right of every citizen so even if there is a small, secluded village in Balochistan, they should still be provided fixed line as well as broadband services." Chairman PTA also believes that the development of the required infrastructure can be practically achieved "because in the form of USF, the funds needed are available".

Muhammad Yaseen also highlights that enhanced coverage of telecommunications networks across the country can be leveraged to turn the country into a communication hub that can connect China and other East Asian countries to other regions.
----------
"There are about 20 million smart phones connected to our networks at present, so any operator entering into the 4G realm can count on a prospective market among these connections," says Yaseen, adding that "the total size of the Australian market is 20 million subscribers." He concludes that "even if ARPU is low, the number of subscribers still provides lucrative opportunities in this sector!"


http://www.brecorder.com/component/news/single/592/0/1260076/

Riaz Haq said...

PTCL has introduced a new triple play bundle that includes:

-Smart TV Service
-256Kbps Broadband data rate with 1 GB data limit (Unlimited in September only)
-Zero Line Rent Landline Package

PTCL also offers Quad Play Services that includes unlimited voice calls, internet, IPTV and surveillance services.

Cost:

The new package is offered to at Rs.749 / month.

Existing customer can also avail this package but they have to pay one time charges of Rs.1500 as downgrade charges.
One time Equipment (Smart TV STB & Camera) charges may apply.

Highlights:

Access to PTCL Smart TV
Access to 100 + digital quality TV channels
Freedom to pause and rewind live TV programs
Library of 500 video on demand.
24/7 service availability from PTCL’s side.
Parental control on TV channels and video on demand.
Access to rich HD multimedia resources over the internet
Access to free movies, music, classical Pakistani plays, famous cricket matches, educational content exclusively for PTCL broadband customers on ‘Buzz’ broadband web infotainment portal.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report about Pakistan's telecom sector figures in 2010-11:

Telecom sector has a potential to attract billions dollars of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as total revenues of telecom operators in the country has been swelled to an all time high Rs 362 billion in 2011 at the end of financial year.

The telecom sector has expanded its services rapidly in many parts of the country over the period of past one decade. It is still in the evolving stage to deploy its services in many un-served small cities and villages and companies are plan to increase their operation areas in maximum locations to get handsome number of customers of their different services.

According to a report of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) the telecom sector contributed more than Rs 116.9 billion to the national exchequer in the outgoing financial year during 2010-11.

Accordingly, the GST/FED collections from the sector spike by 20% to reach Rs 52.6 billion in the same year whereas Rs 7.2 billion activation tax collected.

According to this report PTA deposits reached to Rs12 billion whereas other taxes reached to Rs 45.2 billion.

Cellular income which constitutes major chunk of the telecom revenues was boosted by 11% to Rs. 262 billion from Rs. 236 billion. A modest increase in cellular industry’s ARPU was witnessed from US$ 2.41 in the previous fiscal year to US$ 2.45.

The revenues of local loop operators recorded Rs58.32 billion. The wireless operators earned Rs4.84 billion and LDI sector revenues reached to Rs 29.95 billion. The value added sector made Rs 7.02 billion revenues during fiscal year 2011..

The number of mobile subscribers at the end of fiscal year 2011 stood at 108.9 million, showing growth rate of 10%, double than that of the last year. Mobile penetration rose to 65.4% from 60.4% in the previous year.

In this report it has been said that during the past three years, PTA has collected around Rs. 40 billion against APC for USF. In its drive to curb grey traffic, the Authority saved revenue of US$ 26 million.

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority in its report “Vision 2020” estimated that telecom investments in Pakistan would be landed more than US$ 2.4 billion by 2020. The mobile subscribers’ base is expected to be widened to 161 million, hence approximately 89% of the total population by 2020.


http://www.onlinenews.com.pk/details.php?id=188473

Riaz Haq said...

PTCL launches Android smartphone, reports Technomaniac website:

A start of a new year and a launch of a new product by PTCL. This time it’s a Android smartphone with EVO 3G built in. This is the third device in a series of products based on the PTCL EVO internet service, first it was the Futura mobile phone luanched by the subsidiary of PTCL i.e Ufone (which was a featurephone btw) and then a EVO tablet on 14th August last year.

The name of the device is IVIO Icon Pro and it seems like it is made by the same company that made the EVO tablet.

- EVO 3G speeds

- Ability to talk and surf at the same time.

- Android 2.2 Froyo Smartphone

- 5 MP Autofocus camera

- WiFi Hotspot facilty

- 3.5 inch 480*320 resolution screen

- 256 MB RAM & 512 MB Flash ROM

- Free 4 GB microSD card (Supports upto 32GB)

- WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, Accelerometer

- Upto 5 hrs talktime and 100 hours standby

- And best of all, you can use this device with any SIM of your choice!

Price and Packages

Launch Packages

Evo Wind
Rs. 18,000 Phone + 15 GB data – 6 months validity

Evo Wings
Rs. 17,000 Phone + 5 GB data – 3 months validity


Post launch offers

Smart 5 GB
3 months validity Only Rs. 999!

Smart 15 GB
6 months validity Only Rs. 1,999!


http://www.techomaniac.com/2012/01/ptcl-launches-android-smartphone-with.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Business Recorder story on PTCL's wireless broadband network coverage in Pakistan:

Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited's (PTCL) EVO wireless broadband has become Pakistan's widest broadband Internet network covering 90 percent of the nation's population in more than 180 cities and towns.

PTCL has also recently expanded coverage of its fastest Nitro Rev B network to 70 cities.

Customers can now cruise with matchless speeds of up to 9.3Mbps with EVO Nitro's Rev B in more than 70 cities.

PTCL's EVO wireless broadband is the only wireless broadband network providing Rev A and Rev B connectivity in Pakistan, giving unlimited data volume downloads in unlimited usage packages.

Its superior 3G experience comes in a variety of pre-paid and post-paid device and connectivity package options that give customers multiple bill payment and pre-paid recharge options to suit their needs.

"PTCL is leading the mobile Internet revolution in Pakistan by continuing to expand and enhance our wireless broadband services to provide seamless coverage," said PTCL Senior Executive Vice-President, Naveed Saeed


http://www.brecorder.com/it-a-computers/206/1165130/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a <a href="http://www.thenewstribe.com/2012/03/13/ptcl-claims-to-hold-95-share-of-dsl-broadband-sector>report</a> on growth of broadband in Pakistan:

<i>Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) claimed that it acquired 95 percent of the DSL market share with increase of 17 percent subscribers’ base in the first half of the current financial year 2011-12, the company financial report said.

According to an estimate, the company has nearly been subscribed by 1.5 million users. PTCL’s efforts in DSL business expansion were instrumental in making Pakistan one of the fastest growing countries in the world in terms of broadband growth.

The product portfolio was suitably diversified providing unparallel range from 256Kbps to 50 Mbps at competitive pricing to meet individual requirements of a wide range of customer base encompassing urban and rural communities alike.

Besides the company special promotions and bundled deals were encourages subscribers to upgrade their connections in terms of speed without any price increase.

Moreover, the introduction of Videophone with plug and play feature linking the service through regular DSL connection improved the subscriber experience.

The company also introduced FTTH (fibre to the home) in major urban areas to meet the ever-increasing demand of higher bandwidth and superior quality of services.

EVO Witnesses 30% Growth in H1FY12

In the half-year 2011-12, ‘EVO’ the wireless broadband service based on 3G technology witnessed a 30% growth in its customer base. This was made possible by introducing various products and packages encompassing latest technology.

The 3G EVO Tablet, launched on the Independence Day of 14th August 2011, is Pakistan’s first 3G enabled Android Tablet with built-in EVO wireless broadband for high speed on-the-go internet connectivity.

Similarly, economical packages were also offered on the EVO Cloud – the product enabling simultaneous 3G wireless broadband connectivity through Wi-Fi multiple devices.

Ufone Revenue up by 6%

The revenues of PTML (Ufone), the wholly owned subsidiary of PTCL also rose by 6 percent in the half year under review. The revenues of PTCL were Rs. 29 billion registering 6 percent increase.

PTCL Group earned revenues of Rs. 55 billion which were 6 percent higher compared to same period last year. The Group’s net profit after tax remained at Rs. 4.6 billion during the period under review depicting a decrease of 21 percent over corresponding period last year. PTCL’s net profit after tax was Rs. 2.9 billion which is 29 percent lower than the profit in same period last year mainly on account of decrease in Other Operating Income.</i>

http://www.thenewstribe.com/2012/03/13/ptcl-claims-to-hold-95-share-of-dsl-broadband-sector

Riaz Haq said...

IPTV grows by 30% in Pakistan, according to RapidTV:

Pakistan Telecommunications Company (PTCL) has registered a growth rate of 30% in customers of its internet protocol television (IPTV) service called Smart TV.

Its content acquisition strategy is reported to be behind the swift development of the IPTV service's customer care, quality of service and enriched content.

PTV dramas, including Fifty Fifty, Aangan Teraah, Aahat, and Dhoop Kinary, have now been added to PTCL Smart TV's video on demand service, as have a range of Hollywood and Bollywood films and children's entertainment.

The company says the service's greater digital picture quality, video on demand flexibility, parental lock feature, and the ability to use advanced attributes such as rewind live TV have proved popular with consumers.

PTCL says it is now striving to achieve a 9% penetration rate for its IPTV service in Pakistan, in line with the global figure for IPTV distribution in broadband homes.


http://www.rapidtvnews.com/index.php/2012031820672/pakistan-iptv-sees-30-rise-in-subscribers.html

Riaz Haq said...

Wimax achieves 50% penetration in Pakistan, according to Telecom Lead:

WiMAX technology has achieved a penetration rate of 50 percent of all broadband connections in urban centers in Pakistan.



Pakistan has a huge untapped market with only 7 percent of households having subscribed to broadband internet. The fixed market space is virtually untapped and future potential for growth is immense for broadband operators.



Pakistan has 4 WiMAX operators, namely Wateen, Qubee, Mobilink Infinity and Wi-Tribe who account for around 29 percent of the broadband market share. Consumers in the country are showing their preference for wireless broadband, which offers a lucrative untapped broadband market.



Recently, the WiMAX Forum hosted the South Asia Conference 2012 in Islamabad, Pakistan. The forum conducted the conference under the patronage of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, and co-organized by Wateen Telecom.



The conference was aimed at creating awareness about how WiMAX is a cost-efficient, sustainable and easily scalable solution for broadband distribution.



WiMAX can help improve the country's economy by helping industries such as electricity, aviation, oil & gas, agriculture, healthcare amongst others in becoming more efficient, transparent and vertical through its various applications.



WiMAX can help resolve Pakistan's electricity crisis through smart grid applications, through efficient and secure electricity distribution.


"This success of the technology is unparalleled anywhere else in the world. I am delighted to come to Pakistan and look forward to returning to continue supporting the success of WiMAX operators in the country," said Declan Byrne, president of the WiMAX Forum.


The conference included speakers from Airspan, Fanoos Telecom, Gemtek Technology and Banglalion among others who discussed various go-to-market strategies, planning considerations and applications for WiMAX operators. Alepo, a provider of WiMAX solutions shared how broadband and mobile networks can collaborate for better provisioning of data services for consumers.


Mohammed Yaseen, chairman, PTA, shared his vision for the country's broadband policy in enabling the country's economic and social needs, spoke to the delegates present at the conference.



"Wateen Telecom is focused on proliferating broadband internet in Pakistan and we are firmly committed to the idea that WiMAX can change every aspect of life in Pakistan for the better. Being one of the pioneers for the technology in the world, Wateen believes WiMAX is the solution of choice for emerging countries and can leapfrog Pakistan to progress," said Naeem Zamindar, CEO Wateen Telecom.


http://telecomlead.com/inner-page-details.php?id=8081&block=News

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of a Business Recorder story on Wimax in Pakistan:

Pakistan is among very few countries where various competing broadband technologies have been allowed by the regulator.

Though current broadband subscriptions are abysmally low at less than two million; PTA expects subscriptions and users to reach 19.5 million and 78 million respectively by 2020.

Future growth is expected to be driven by wireless broadband, as it can substitute fixed broadband (DSL) and offer mobile internet through dongles & wifi hotspots.

The WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) technology is a serious contender for future broadband uptake in Pakistan because it can roll out broadband very quickly, and operators can rapidly expand their footprints if things work out with the telcos.

Globally, the highest WiMAX penetration is witnessed in Pakistan, with nearly one in three wireless broadband subscribers using WiMAX technology.

Pakistan is hosting four WiMAX operators, and all of them are competing to establish their strongholds in major metropolis....


http://www.brecorder.com/br-research/35:science-and-technology/2414:prospects-for-wimax-in-pakistan/?date=2012-04-06

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Daily Times on plans to expand open schooling in Pakistan:

Canada-based Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) have agreed on a draft plan to launch open-schooling system in Pakistan for achieving millennium goals, ensuring universal education by the year 2015.

The main features of the draft plan were explained at a presentation given by COL consultant Dr Tony Dodds at the AIOU’s headquarters. The COL was created by commonwealth heads of governments to encourage development and sharing of open learning and distance education knowledge, resources and technologies. Core funding comes from voluntary contributions from member governments in which Canada is the largest contributor. Under the proposed plan, an Institute of Open Schooling and Lifelong Learning will be established at the AIOU to impart education at primary, middle and higher secondary levels throughout Pakistan through distance and open-learning system. The system has already been successfully tested in many other countries, including the UK, India, Namibia and Tanzania, to successful overcome illiteracy. AIOU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Nazir Ahmed Sangi, on the occasion, said that open schooling system would be a milestone in achieving the millennium goals. The plan, he said, will be implemented in consultation and cooperation of provincial governments and other federal government institutions. The AIOU was looking forward to act as facilitator and coordinator in fighting illiteracy at all levels.

He said the university had the required capacity and academic potential for developing necessary curriculum and other parameters to implement the plan in its true spirit. Mukhtar Hussain Talpur, AIOU Bureau of University Extension and Special Programmes director, said the proposed plan would provide a roadmap for upgrading literacy at all levels in the country, particularly in the far-flung and less-developed regions.

He said the AIOU would be seeking support from relevant institutions from home and abroad to achieve the desired objectives. An NGO, Plan International, has already provided Rs 18.4 million to the AIOU to promote primary and post-primary education in the country. Dr Dodds explained that through the open and distance learning millions of Pakistanis, currently outside the formal educational system, would have access to opportunities to undertake organised educational activities at pre-tertiary level which would improve the quality of their lives.

The AIOU will develop a wide-range of educational courses at post-literary pre-tertiary level and set up effective open learning structures and system for those young and adult people who are currently outside the formal and non-formal education system...


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\04\06\story_6-4-2012_pg11_3

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of a BR report on smartphone market in Pakistan:

(Pakistan currently has) five to six million smartphone users.

A rather bullish estimate is cast by Ericsson Pakistan which anticipates some 50 million smartphone users in Pakistan by 2016, accounting for 70 percent of operator revenues.

It could, however, be misleading to equate the potential mobile broadband uptake entirely with the incidence of smartphone users in Pakistan.

The cue might actually lie in the current mobile internet usage, which is reportedly growing despite high tariffs and laggard speeds on GPRS/EDGE networks.

According to PTA Chairman, mobile internet users crossed 15 million in June 2011, just four million shy of PC internet users.

Telenor Pakistan, arguably the dominant player in mobile internet services, shared with BR Research that every fourth Telenor customer is a mobile internet user.

High adoption rate is found in the 18-26 age, cohort and significantly higher data consumption is witnessed among business users who are mostly aged 30 and above.

Rural and semi-urban areas in the North are reported to have surprisingly high usage.

Interestingly, just three percent of total handsets on Telenors network are smartphones, when over a quarter of its customers have been mobile internet users.

This possibly means that the feature phones are at work here, which are not smartphones but have additional functions over dumb phones, including internet settings.

This could imply that the barriers to smartphone adoption may not really hold back the mobile broadband uptake, because a feature phone would suffice to access high-speed internet.

However, the appeal of a smartphone - which is capable to communicate with platforms like Android Market, Apple Store, and Blackberry App World, along with a plethora of third-party mobile applications - cannot be matched.

Besides handset functionality, the telecom leaders in their interactions with BR Research have cited two other decisive factors for the growth in mobile broadband users.

These are the development of local language content and creative mobile applications, and pricing of the data services as per needs of various segments.

There is a strong case for a large-scale mobile broadband adoption in Pakistan given the current data consumption trends.

A high penetration of mobile broadband can go much beyond mobile entertainment, social networking, and business usage.

It will augur well for areas, like education, healthcare and governance that are in dire need to be turned around for Pakistans socioeconomic progress.


http://www.brecorder.com/br-research/35:35/2382:smartphones-and-the-mobile-broadband-market/?date=2012-03-22

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Al-Arabiya report on Bannu Jail inmates with cell phones & Internet access to Facebook & blogosphere:

A high profile Pakistani prisoner, who escaped on Sunday along with 383 other inmates, was reportedly contributing to several social networking sites including Facebook and blog sites while he was in prison, a report revealed late Monday.

Adnan Rashid was on death row at Bannu Central Prison in northwestern Pakistan for his alleged attempt to assassinate former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in 2003.

But despite the high profile charges against him, Rashid enjoyed the use of cell phones inside the death cell he was held in, allowing him to keep in touch with several journalists through text messaging, the Pakistan-based Dawn news website reported.

Rashid, a former junior technician of the Pakistan Air Force, was among some 384 prisoners who escaped early Sunday from the jail after an attack by insurgents armed with guns, grenades and rockets, officials said.

The attack, claimed by Pakistan’s Taliban movement, started at around 1:00 a.m. (2000 GMT) and continued for two hours, with militants in cars and pick-up trucks shooting and lobbing grenades to force their way into the prison, a senior security official told AFP news agency.

“We have freed hundreds of our comrades in Bannu in this attack. Several of our people have reached their destinations, others are on their way,” a Taliban spokesman said on Sunday.

Rashid was arrested in early 2004 on charges of the alleged assassination attempt, but had continued to plead his innocence while in prison, claiming “that his only crime was that he had voted ‘No’ in the referendum held by the then military president Gen. Musharraf,” the Dawn reported.

As a prisoner, he was questioned by the media in interviews uploaded on to social networking site Facebook, in which he argued against flaws in laws concerning the Pakistani army, air force and navy, while urging the Supreme Court to intervene in his case and those of others who had been detained with him.

In one letter to the Chief Justice, Rashid claimed that at the time of the assassination attempt, he was on duty in Quetta and was picked up by intelligence personnel.

He had recently sent a text message to a group of recipients, who were not identified by the newspaper, which states: “There are millions of cases pending before high courts and Supreme Court, 99.9 percent of these are actually appeals against verdicts of lower courts. Billions of rupees are being spent on higher civil courts so why not this judicial system is replaced by military courts; these are swift, require no judge, no special courtrooms or bars, and most interesting court martial are unchallengeable so no more need of high and supreme courts. It saves time and money of nation. What do you think? From a court martial convict.”


http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/04/17/208348.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET report on PM Gilani's plan to promote online education in Pakistan's under-served areas:

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has announced that the federal government will allocate Rs17 billion for the development of Information Technology (IT) infrastructure and broadband connectivity in un-served areas in the next budget.

Addressing the third convocation of Virtual University at the Expo Centre here on Saturday, the prime minister said that education in general and science and technology education in particular were “a matter of life and death” for the nation.

He said his government had already spent Rs22 billion on IT. He also announced an IT award of Rs20 million for talented students from backward areas.

Gilani said that broadband centres would be established in each union council and these would provide 30,000 jobs this year. He also announced the establishment of 30 more Virtual University campuses throughout the country including in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.

The prime minister directed the IT minister to expedite the awarding of contracts for 3G mobile technology in Pakistan.

He said that this technology would create jobs and promote development. He said that he had directed the finance minister to create 100,000 jobs in the budget for 2012-13.

“An educated Pakistan, which is the vision of Virtual University, is in line with my government’s determination to provide an affordable and quality education to all at the same time. I want the university to undertake expansion projects and increase its nationwide presence. I have already approved, in principle, the setting up of a custom-built Virtual University campus in every district of the country. I am very glad to hear that the first four campuses under this initiative have already started functioning,” he said.

Gilani said though education was a provincial subject after the passage of the 18th Amendment, the federal government was “committed to increasing the share of GDP for education in line with the Millennium Development Goals”.

Pakistan currently has one of the lowest rates in the world of spending on education as a proportion of GDP.

The prime minister praised Virtual University for its “quality and innovative techniques of delivery”. He noted that the university’s open course ware website had been recognised as the best in the world by the Open Courseware Consortium that included such world leaders as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford and Yale.

Gilani said that the government was planning to raise the rate of enrolment in higher education significantly in coming years. “The only way this quantitative and qualitative growth can take place is through an effective use of technology for the dissemination of education for students residing in all areas of the country. I am glad that Virtual University is playing its due role in this respect,” he added


http://tribune.com.pk/story/381449/it-infrastructure-pm-announces-rs17-billion-for-broadband/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Nation report on PTCL's one millionth broadband subscription in Pakistan:

Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani has inaugurated Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) celebration of achieving Pakistan’s first one million Broadband customers as part of the national commemoration of World Telecommunication & Information Society Day 2012 held here at Pak-China Friendship Center, says a press release.

“Telecommunications and IT are bringing encouraging economic dividends and inspiring lifestyle choices for the people of Pakistan,” said Prime Minister Gilani, who was the chief guest of the mega event and exhibition organised jointly by PTCL and Ministry of IT & Telecom to mark the WTIS Day 2012. This year’s theme for WTIS Day is ‘Women, Girls & ICT’.

“The role of ICTs matter immensely for gender equality and empowerment of women,” said Prime Minister Gilani. “ICTs are a force multiplier for girls’ education, enabling them to build their future on a level-playing field with their male counterparts.” The event was also addressed by Federal Minister of IT & Telecom, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf; Federal Secretary IT & Telecom, Farooq Ahmed Awan; and PTCL President & CEO, Walid Irshaid. The event was attended by senior government and PTCL officials, a large number of students, members of the civil society and media.

“Achieving one million Broadband customers mark is yet another historic milestone for PTCL,” said Irshaid in his remarks. “PTCL passionately believes in creating innovative yet affordable ICT and telecom solutions that meet the needs of all segments of Pakistan’s society, especially women. We are determined to utilise the full potential of ICTs by providing women with the telecommunication tools, products and services they need to empower them to be free and make their own decisions.”

Earlier, Prime Minister Gilani visited PTCL’s impressive pavilion exhibition set up in the main hall of the Pak-China Friendship Centre. The Prime Minister experienced first-hand telecom giant’s state-of-the-art products and services, and was briefed by PTCL’s team about their various features.

President & CEO PTCL, Walid Irshaid, also presented on the occasion special 1 million Broadband commemorative shields to Prime Minister Gilani and Minister IT & Telecom, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf.


http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/business/18-May-2012/telecom-it-bringing-economic-dividends-pm

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET report on telecom growth forecast in Pakistan:

The mobile phone subscriber base is expected to cross 160 million mark and broadband subscribers to cross 19.5 million by 2020, according to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority’s ‘Telecom Vision 2020‘ report.

The number of fixed line subscribers is expected to remain in the range of five million, the report added.

The broadband connections have increased from 1.49 million in June last year to 1.92 million and this increase is mainly attributed to continuous aggressive launching of products like EvDO, WiMax, FTTP in the broadband arena by telecom companies at affordable price.

It said broadband will be the main medium of personalised communication from which users will be able to effectively and affordably access any service from any device or network. In the next ten years, 4G technology will usher the usage of new applications such as IPTV and Web-TV.

In the future, PTA will be concentrating on re-farming of spectrum to cater the increased demand of broadband and wireless technologies, envisioning telecom to become the communication highway for sharing of knowledge as well as reaching out to a large segment of population in education and health services delivery.

The report further said that the telecom roadmap for 2020 is likely to witness 100 per cent infrastructure development wherein a wide range of services will be available on converged infrastructure platform.

Talking to APP, an official said on Wednesday that Rs 1.13 billion have been earmarked for SUPARCO, SCO and Ministry of IT to execute 16 approved projects worth Rs 11.1 billion.

The important projects that will be executed this year include construction of Cross-Border Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) for alternate international connectivity and laying of OFC to connect remote areas of Gilgit-Baltistan and AJK.

He added that SUPARCO would develop various laboratories for National Satellite Development Programme in Lahore. The other projects are development of Compact Antenna Test Range (CATR), Satellite bus development facility (Phase-I), development of a Satellite Assembly Integration and Test (SAINT) and Altitude & Orbital Control System (AOCS) Center.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/413152/cell-phone-users-to-cross-160-million-broadband-to-19-5-million-by-2020-pta/

http://www.pta.gov.pk/media/final_vision_2020_booklet.pdf

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Express Tribune on rapid growth of broadband Internet access in Pakistan:

The current global economic recession has had a spiral effect worldwide and only a few segments have been able to resist its impact. However, the amazing growth of broadband in the last decade is an outstanding national success story. High-speed internet streaming is revolutionising the way people learn, communicate, work and do business. Broadband internet is now the backbone of corporate services and even small businesses.

Owing to their own limitations, some telecommunications operators are making misleading claims about the state of broadband penetration in Pakistan by incorrectly linking it with the country’s economic situation. Contrary to such ill-informed claims made in haste, the country has witnessed a 70 times increase in broadband proliferation in the last six years. The numbers speak for themselves.

According to the Pakistan Telecommu-nication Authority (PTA) data, the number of broadband internet subscribers in Pakistan increased from less than 27,000 in 2005-2006 to more than 1.9 million in 2012. One website, Internetworldstats.com, puts Pakistan’s total internet users at more than 29 million with a population penetration of 15.5 per cent. The total number of fixed phones and mobile phone subscribers stand at 3.1 million and 118.3 million, respectively. The PTA data further reveals that broadband internet put up an impressive growth rate of 28 per cent from June 2011 to March 2012, surpassing a mobile growth rate which stood at nine per cent for the same period. Given these facts, conveniently blaming the economy to cover operators’ own institutional limitations and lack of infrastructural capacity are tantamount to a disservice to the nation.

Broadband services were first introduced in Pakistan in 2001, by installing equipment on existing copper lines used for provision of telephony services. Initially, DSL broadband services were only provided to a small consumer base of high-end users in the big cities. But progress was slow and penetration was negligible. In response, the Government of Pakistan introduced the Broadband Policy of 2004, revising backhaul bandwidth charges downwards to propel broader penetration.

Broadband growth has been achieved during recession years, where the average GDP growth rate has remained less than four per cent per year. Today, broadband internet is a household product and one connection serves an entire family.

Pakistan is ranked among the top few countries to have registered high growth in broadband internet penetration in recent years. According to global broadband tracker Point Topic’s 2011 report, Pakistan stood in fourth place in Asia with 46.2 per cent growth in subscriber base whereas Sri Lanka and India were placed at number 11 and number 14, respectively. The tremendous potential of broadband internet in Pakistan can be gauged by analysing the last four years’ progress through the PTA’s data. Broadband internet penetration was less than one percent per household in 2008. In 2012, it has reached seven per cent. This mammoth growth has fuelled a broadband revolution, resulting in an increase in customer base and also helping wireless broadband technologies to expand setting the economic wheel in motion.

Despite hollow claims, the truth is that the growth trajectory of broadband is not the same for all operators. A sluggish economy and power crisis is not the reason for this stark dichotomy. Rather, it depends on an operator’s network, infrastructure capabilities, investment size, business model and growth strategy. Technology takes time to grow but once the wheel is set in motion, the effect is viral.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/416535/broadband-growth-dont-blame-the-economy/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Daily Times on PTCL 3G EVO mobile broadband offer:

Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) is offering free 3G EVO Nitro 9.3 Mbps USB with 3 months free internet for advance payment of Rs 6,000 only. The small and compact 3G Nitro USB is an easy-to-manage USB dongle that offers a truly mobile Broadband internet experience at hyper fast speeds up to 9.3 Mbps. The 200 plus EVO coverage areas ensure that PTCL customers remain connected on the go. All new customers can avail this offer by making advance payment of Rs 6,000 only. The offer comes with free 3G EVO Nitro USB and 3 months free internet. PTCL is continuously building a truly mobile telecommunications infrastructure across Pakistan, said PTCL Senior Executive Vice President (SEVP) Commercial, Naveed Saeed.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\08\04\story_4-8-2012_pg5_14

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BR report on telecom equipment imports in Pakistan:

The imports of various telecom products witnessed increase of 23.89 percent during the fiscal year 2011-12 as against the same period of the previous year.

The over all imports of telecom sector reached to US$1.268 billion during July-June (2011-12) against the imports of US$ 1.023 billion recorded during July-June (2010-11), according to data of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.

Among the telecom sector, the highest increase of 31.63 was witnessed in mobile phones, imports of which increased from US$ 522.825 million to US$688.170 million, the PBS data revealed.

The imports of other telecom apparatus increased from US$500.712 million to US$579.899 million, showing increase of 15.81 percent.

Meanwhile, during the month of June 2012, the telecom imports increased by 13.04 percent as compared to the imports of June 2011 while decreased by 20.43 percent when compared to the imports of May 2011.

The telecom imports in June 2012 stood at US$ 96.680 million against the imports of US$ 85.527 million in June 2011 and US$ 121.499 in May 2012, the data revealed.

During the month under review, the mobile phone imports surged 25.63 percent when compared to the imports of June 2011 and decreased by 11.17 percent when compared to the imports of May 2012.

In June, the mobile phone imports were recorded at US$ 56.176 million against the imports of US$ 44.714 in June 2011 and US$ 63.237 in May 2011.

However, in June 2012, the imports of other telecom apparatus decreased by 0.76 percent and 30.48 percent as compared to the imports of June 2011 and May 2012.

The imports of telecom apparatus in June 2012 stood at US$ 40.504 million against the imports of US$ 40.813 million in June 2011 and US$ 58.262 million in May 2011, the data revealed.

It is pertinent to mention here that the overall impost from the country during the fiscal year 2011-12 increased by 11.13 percent.

The imports during the year under review were recorded at US$ 44.912 billion against the imports of US$40.414 billion, according to the PBS data.


http://www.brecorder.com/top-news/108-pakistan-top-news/72599-telecom-mobile-imports-up-2389pc-3163pc.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting letter to Financial Times from two Pakistani readers:

High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email ftsales.support@ft.com to buy additional rights. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/ed95f842-29d4-11e2-9a46-00144feabdc0.html#ixzz2C4VgKQYR

It can, of course, be argued that quality and institution-building will take some time. However, with the initiatives of some of the best American universities, the pace of reform can be quickened. Initiatives such as MIT Open Courseware (OCW), Open Yale Courses (OYC) and EdX now require just an internet connection and a laptop to access this world-class education. The word needs to be spread so that as many people as possible take advantage of this.

What American universities are doing is the beginning of a global reform in higher education. In our recorded history, no civilisation has ever opened its most advanced knowledge for others to benefit. We believe that nothing but the essence of real knowledge can truly transform our country.

It is with this faith that we meet every weekend on the outskirts of Lahore and try to gather as many people as possible to tell them what new opportunities have opened up in the shape of OCW and OYC, and how they can use those to transform themselves and society.

We also help underprivileged students understand the OYC lectures. We believe that these opportunities being offered by world-class universities can truly transform not just Pakistan but every country in the world.

Such initiatives need to be highlighted on broader and bigger forums as they represent far better opportunities than what is being offered by the profit-oriented education providers in Pakistan and other countries.


http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/ed95f842-29d4-11e2-9a46-00144feabdc0.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of a News Op Ed on online education by Dr. Ata-ur-Rehman Khan:

The national focal point of this distance learning initiative selected by the HEC is the Latif Ebrahim Jamal Science Information Centre located at the University of Karachi. Over 2,000 lectures from professors based in the US, UK, Europe and Australia have been delivered through this mechanism during the last three years.



A major advance in distance learning was the availability of MIT OpenCourseWare free of charge to the world. This provided over two thousand excellent undergraduate and postgraduate courses in various disciplines delivered by the MIT faculty. There are about 20 million website visits by students from 215 countries to benefit from these courses annually and an astonishing 100 million users have benefited from them so far.



We set up a mirror website of the MITCourseWare in Pakistan to facilitate downloading when I was chairman of the HEC. These Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are also being introduced by Stanford and other universities. One such initiative, ‘Udacity’, was initiated by a Stanford professor last year and attracted 160,000 students to register for the course on artificial intelligence.



The fastest growing distance learning initiative, ‘Coursera’, was started by two Stanford professors of computer science and has already enrolled more than two million students worldwide. Harvard University has also followed the same path, teaming up with MIT to start online courses under a programme termed ‘edX’. These will be available free for developing countries.



Apple-iTunesU also offers access to websites of the leading universities in the world including Cambridge, Oxford, Yale etc, where free video lectures are available. The Khan Academy based in California has been providing school and college level materials for many years, many of which are dubbed in Urdu by a group based in NED University, Karachi.



Recently a meta search engine has been developed at the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences at Karachi University to quickly search through all these materials, and arrangements have been made to make these materials available to students and academics in Pakistan free of charge through internet and television.



The Latif Ebrahim Jamal Science Information Centre is the HEC designated national focal point for the video conferencing and distance learning programmes. The formal inauguration of educational TV is expected to occur within a couple of months. This will be a huge leap forward for education in Pakistan, and I am thrilled to be a part of this exciting initiative to help bring quality education to the doorsteps of some 100 million youngsters of Pakistan who are below the age of 19.


http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-161624-Education-at-the-doorstep

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn report on fiber optic plans for Pakistan:

Minister of State for Information Technology Anusha Rehman on Thursday announced to lay optic fiber across Pakistan for spreading telecom facilities to create equal opportunities for masses.

She stated this while making a surprise visit to the fiber optic route of Chirah-Lehtrar-Kotli Sattian.

“An optic fiber cable of about 40 km has been laid and has proved to be an asset for a populace of about 101,000 people and further initiatives will be taken in future by the ministry of IT to spread optic fiber across all the union council's of the country to connect the entire nation,” she said.

So far more than 4,250 km of optic fiber cable has been laid to connect the un-served tehsil's and towns. With these achievements, USFCo and ministry of IT has created a success story for the public-private partnership entities nationally and internationally, she added.

“The ministry of IT, Telecom and USFCo stands committed to the envisioned goal of spreading innovative yet affordable ICT and telecom solutions to the masses across the country and this project has particularly played an important role in facilitation of ICT services and has generated socio-economic benefits for the locals of this area.”

Anusha during her visit to the site was accompanied by the secretary MOITT and the senior management of USFCo.


http://dawn.com/news/1059171/it-ministry-to-lay-optic-fiber-across-pakistan-anusha

Riaz Haq said...

Here's ZDNet on fiber optic cable to connect Pakistan with China:

Huawei is working on a project which will connect Pakistan and China, through fiber-optic cable.

According to the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) on Monday, citing an unnamed source at Huawei, the connection will run from the countries' borders near Khunjerab to Rawalpindi, spanning a distance of 820km. The project will cost US$44 million and will be completed within a span of two years, the report noted.

The new connection will help with connectivity issues and assuage security concerns in Pakistan, the source added. At the moment the country is connected to the Internet through a few undersea cables so the new connection will bring added redundancy which can reduce Internet downtime and additional security.

The project is also expected to stimulate trade, tourism and IT awareness in the region and generate economic opportunities, the source added, noting it is set to generate revenue of 1.5 billion rupees (US$24.3 million) in its first three years.

In March this year, a fiber optic cable in the Arabian Sea near Karachi got cut and resulted in nearly 50 percent decrease in Internet speed across Pakistan, affected almost 50 percent of Pakistan's Internet traffic.


http://www.zdnet.com/cn/huawei-to-build-fiber-optic-cable-between-pakistan-china-7000019035/

Riaz Haq said...

Here are World Bank reported highlights of the use of mobile phone technology in Pakistan:

The Punjab provincial government’s efforts so far include getting direct feedback from 3 million users of public services through SMS and providing field workers cost-effective smartphones to track their visits and collect data, including to monitor pests on crops, fighting dengue, and managing waste.
A recently-approved project will scale up these activities using innovative financing that emphasizes results, takes a multi-sectoral approach, and increases transparency and citizen access to information, improving citizen-state relations.
This model of innovative and sophisticated mobile governance is almost unprecedented in the public sector in developing countries, and represents one of the largest-scale attempts to hear from citizens to crack down on corrupt and poor performing officials.


http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2013/12/11/leveraging-mobile-phones-for-innovative-governance-solutions-in-Pakistan

Riaz Haq said...

Smartphones to double next year, reports Dawn:

The market share of smartphones is expected to double next year as stiff competition rages among cellphone makers with moderate prices and cheap Chinese brands penetrating the market.

Nokia Android phones have also hit the markets where Q Mobile, Samsung, Huawei, Sony, LG, Voice, G-Five, VGO Tel, etc continue introducing new smartphones with more advanced features and competitive prices. However, feature phones (not smart or android) still hold 80 per cent market share and cost between Rs2,500 to Rs4,000.

According to Director United Mobile, Azad Lalani, smartphones share will jump to about 40pc next year from the current 15-20pc.

Pakistan’s monthly sales of overall cellphones is estimated at 1.5 to 1.7 million units. The start of 3G services will further boost sales of smartphones.

Market sources said that one of the Chinese cellphones now holds a major market share with sales of 600,000-700,000 units per month, a sector that was previously dominated by Nokia. The price of smartphones (Chinese brands) starts from Rs7,000 and touches up to Rs60,000 plus for many major brands.

Country General Manager Nokia Pakistan and Afghanistan, Arif Shafique said, “We have recently launched the first of our Nokia X range of smartphones in Pakistan. The device runs on the Nokia X Software Platform, which is built on the standard Android Open Source Project (AOSP).”

Shortly, the company will expand the range of Nokia X devices in Pakistan across all price points. The recently launched Nokia X is available at an estimated price of Rs13,500.

“Pakistan’s mobile market is burgeoning and the users are becoming more and more tech savvy,” he said.

On grabbing market share in Nokia Android phones, he said as per Nokia policy he cannot comment on the company’s market share by country or region. “I believe there is consumer demand especially in the affordable smartphone space,” he added.

Regarding investment in the launch of Android phones in Pakistan, he said: “The investment is largely in the marketing and promotion of this new range, as well as in supporting Pakistani developers to come up with more locally relevant apps for Nokia X family.”

Currently Nokia phones are arriving from China for the Pakistani market. “As and when trade between India and Pakistan opens, we will weigh both options — of importing from China and India.”

“We will opt for the one that will offer the best value to our consumers in Pakistan,” he said.

On Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia devices and services business, the general manager said, “Our transition with Microsoft is shaping up to close in April and our journey towards bringing smarter mobile devices and smarter technology is going ahead with this transition.”


http://www.dawn.com/news/1096258/smartphone-market-to-double-next-year