Monday, October 24, 2011

Pakistan Launches 100 MBPS FTTH Broadband

High-speed broadband expansion led by PTCL has propelled Pakistan to become the fourth fastest growing broadband market in the world and the second fastest in Asia, according to a recent industry report. Serbia leads all countries surveyed with a 68% annual growth rate from Q1 2010 to Q1 2011. Thailand (67%), Belarus (50%), Pakistan (46%), and Jordan (44%) follow Serbia. India is in 14th place worldwide with a 35% annual growth rate.





Leading the charge is PTCL (Pakistan Telecommunications Ltd.), Pakistan's state-owned telecommunications company, which recently launched 100 Mbps fiber to the home broadband service using Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) technology. Earlier this year PTCL rolled out bonded VDSL2 technology to deliver 50 Mbps to its existing DSL customers, five times the top speed of the nation's highest level of service at the time, at a construction cost of just $200-300 per home passed.

Nearly 200,000 new subscribers signed up for broadband from the end of Feb to the end of May. At the end of May 2011, Pakistan had 1.4 million broadband subscribers, up from 1.2 million in February, according to figures from Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). The number of DSL subscribers rose to 654,000 compared with 595,038 in Feb, while the number of Wimax internet users stood at 397,155, up from 338,962 Wimax users in February. Some 294,161 people connected to the internet via EV-DO, up from 234,113 in Feb, and 42,490 people used HFC (Hybrid Fiber Coax, or cable) to access the internet, compared with 43,193 HFC users in February. Fiber is growing as well, and there were 6,222 FTTH users in March, up from 5,818 in Feb, and 1,873 broadband subscribers used other technologies.



In addition to GPON and VDSL2, PTCL offers DSL and EVO broadband services as well. 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.



Growing broadband and Internet access by itself is of no value. However, such capabilities can enable huge opportunities for education, communication, business and entertainment. Take distance learning as an example. The quickest and the most cost-effective way to broaden access to education at all levels is through online schools, colleges and universities. Sitting at home in Pakistan, self-motivated learners can watch classroom lectures at world's top universities including UC Berkeley, MIT and Stanford. More Pakistanis can pursue advanced degrees by enrolling and attending the country's Virtual University that offers instructions to thousands of enrolled students via its website, video streaming and Youtube and television channels.

There are many online learning channels, like the Khan Academy, which help advance learning at secondary and tertiary levels. For those interested in vocational training and specialized work-related skills, there are plenty of Youtube channels and videos which are becoming accessible with increasing bandwidth of connections available to people at their homes, schools and offices.

In summary, I believe that the growing bandwidth available for the Internet users in Pakistan, with all its great applications for learning, work and play, is good news for the future of Pakistan. It will open a whole new world of opportunities for the nation's youth and ultimately produce significant demographic dividend.

Here's a video clip about PTCL's EVO 3G tablet:



Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan Rolls Out 50Mbps Broadband Service

More Pakistan Students Studying Abroad

Mobile Internet in South Asia

Online Courses at Top International Universities

Pakistan Virtual University

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

Pakistan Telecommunications Authority

Top 5 ICT4D Trends in 2010

ICT4D in Pakistani Hospital

ITCN Asia 2010 Conference in Karachi

State of Telecom Industry in Pakistan

84 comments:

Anonymous said...

broadband in pakistan means 128kbps and above in India it means 512 kbps and above....


In India 1 Gbps broadband is available 5000 inr/month 500GB download limit

look up hayai broadband,,,,

india is also gonna launch 4G broadband next year is a big big way...

Ismat said...

Thanks, Riaz Saheb. It's nice to hear some good news. The article contains information which would be useful for Pakistan's youth. It would be nice if you could have it published in the leading newspapers of Pakistan.

Mirza said...

Dear Riaz,
You are providing us knowledgeable information and links, I am thankful to you. Please keep it up.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Times report on a tablet computer offered by PTCL:

KARACHI: Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) launched the country’s first 3G enabled tablet with built in EVO Wireless Broadband (3G EVO tab) on August 14th this year. The product has received tremendous response from the users resulting in a runaway success. The reason for its success is cited to be the fact that it is user friendly, offering on the go connectivity and affordable package price.

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 across the country. 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 5MegaPixel Camera, a variety of built-in applications plus access to latest Android market, 3G EVO Tab lets a user 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 7999 plus 12-month unlimited EVO service, all at Rs 31,999. Apart from the 12-month contract, EVO Tab also 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. Executive Vice President Wireless Business Syed Asim Ali said that it is always company’s top priority to facilitate its customers to the maximum.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\09\06\story_6-9-2011_pg5_12

Anonymous said...

Riaz jee with the tablet PC revolution in India whre you have tablet computers at just 5000 inr + 4G wireless we'll mop the floor with Pakistan by the end of next year just like in teledensity...

WE will overtake you on EVERY social measure by 2015....just wait and watch..

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "with the tablet PC revolution in India whre you have tablet computers at just 5000 inr + 4G wireless"

The low-end foreign designed and foreign built cheap "Indian" tablet is no match for PTCL's full-featured EVO 3G Tab which comes with 3G built-in and one year bundled service contract for only Pak Rs. 8,000 (INR 4,545) upfront and total Pak Rs. 32,000 over a year...or INR 17,000.

Anon: "WE will overtake you on EVERY social measure by 2015....just wait and watch.. "

Before thinking about beating Pakistan, I suggest you first try and overtake the poorest of the poor nations of Sub-Saharan Africa in terms of hunger and poverty.

Oxford's multi-dimensional measure of poverty confirms that there is grinding poverty in resurgent India. It highlights the fact that just eight Indian states account for more poor people than the 26 poorest African countries combined, according to media reports. The Indian states, including Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh , Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal, have 421 million "poor" people, compared to 410 million poor in the poorest African countries.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2010/07/new-index-finds-indians-poorer-than.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from an Op Ed in Express Tribune about Pakistan's "demographic dividend":

Pakistan has a rare opportunity to capitalise on its population bulge, fast turning into a ‘youth bulge’. It is faced with a demographic transition whereby the size of the working age population (15-64 years) will expand to occupy a larger share of the total population. This is expected to decrease the dependency ratio, lead to increased savings and long-term investment trends as more people will be working. This outcome has a direct influence on economic growth. But provided that the working age people are actually working and that the gender and educational gap do not keep potential workforces including females, out of the job market.

With around 50 per cent of the population below 20 years and 60 per cent below 30 years, Pakistan is poised for a ‘demographic dividend’, with its workforce growing at a faster rate than total population. This trend is estimated to continue for the next 30-40 years, depending upon the country’s pace of development. Pakistan’s population is projected to reach a staggering 350 million by 2050, almost double its present size, not a very encouraging indicator by itself. But the projected age structure in various demographic studies shows a sizable share to be occupied by the working age group progressively.
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A successful outcome will finally depend on the economy’s ability to absorb the multiplying work force into productive employment. This requires a proactive approach from policy makers to develop a comprehensive framework for infrastructure development and manpower training. The immense benefits and equally innumerable risks involved have to be timely realised.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/275878/demographic-dividend--opportunity-or-threat/

Anonymous said...

"Pakistan has a rare opportunity to capitalise on its population bulge, fast turning into a ‘youth bulge’. "

And do you have any case study of this opportunity every materializing into something concrete.

Long time back I use to work in a silicon valley company which use to reward its CEO/management for predicting how much sales their company would do, not for actually achieving it. I don't have to tell you what happened to the company.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "And do you have any case study of this opportunity every materializing into something concrete."

There is lots of data that corroborates what I am saying.

Pakistan has the world's sixth largest population, seventh largest diaspora and the 9th largest work force 22% of which has had the benefit of some tertiary education.

Pakistani workers have helped achieve an avg of 5% per year gdp growth since 1947, a remarkable feat given the nation's political instability with power swings between civilians and military.

Pakistanis take education seriously. They spend more time in schools and colleges and graduate at a higher rates than their Indian counterparts in 15+ age group, according to a report on educational achievement by Harvard University researchers Robert Barro and Jong-Wha Lee.

With rising urban middle class, there is substantial and growing demand in Pakistan from students, parents and employers for private quality higher education along with a willingness and capacity to pay relatively high tuition and fees, according to the findings of Austrade, an Australian govt agency promoting trade. Private institutions are seeking affiliations with universities abroad to ensure they offer information and training that is of international standards.

Trans-national education (TNE) is a growing market in Pakistan and recent data shows evidence of over 40 such programs running successfully in affiliation with British universities at undergraduate and graduate level, according to The British Council. Overall, the UK takes about 65 per cent of the TNE market in Pakistan.

All of the above adds up to a significant and growing demographic dividend for Pakistan as it becomes an even more important source of labor and talent with decreasing fertility and the aging population in Europe and America. There is a similar opportunity for other emerging nations of Asia and Africa with a youth bulge.

Anonymous said...

PTCL imports its tablets fro China.

The new Akash tablet is deigned and made completely in India from made in India components

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "The new Akash tablet is deigned and made completely in India from made in India components"

Nonsense!

Here's the reality:

Aakash is made by Tuli’s UK based company called Datawind. To manufacture this tablet, the company set up a manufacturing unit in Hyderabad, India. Hence the “Made In India” stamp. The tablet has over 800 components sourced from various places around the world. For instance, the LCD screen comes from South Korea, the microprocessor comes from the United States.

http://oobly.com/news/suneet-singh-tuli-datawind/

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from a CNN report on low-cost tablet computers:

This month there are fresh rumors that Apple may be planning to introduce a smaller and less costly "iPad mini." But nothing is confirmed, so don't hold your breath.

The tablet market is growing fast, and its dynamics are shifting quickly. According to a new report from Strategy Analytics, in the last year Android tablets grew from 2% of the global tablet market to 27%. Meanwhile, the iPad's global tablet market share has dropped from 96% to 67%.

That doesn't reflect a decrease in the iPad's popularity, but rather that consumer demand for tablets is not one-size-fits-all.

In fact, size is a key issue for people shopping for tablets. The iPad measures roughly 7-by-10 inches -- too big for a typical pocket or purse, and nearly twice the size of the basic Kobo Vox, Nook Color and Kindle Fire models. Digital devices that aren't as easy to carry around tend to mainly get used only at certain times of day, in certain settings.

For this reason it's questionable how "mobile" larger tablets like the iPad really are.

Aside from the Vox, Fire, and Nook Color, there are lots of other small Android tablets available. But so far these products have faced various challenges in the consumer market:

Cost: The Wi-Fi-only version of Samsung's 7-inch Galaxy Tab costs about $350, which is on the pricier side. The carrier-branded versions cost much less to buy up front if you agree to a two-year contract. For instance, Verizon currently sells the 7-inch Galaxy Tab for just $200, but data plans cost $30-$80 per month, and there's a $350 early termination fee.

Philadelphia Newspapers Inc., publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, is selling a small Android tablet by Arnova for just $99-$129 in a small pilot program -- but for that bargain-basement price you have to agree to a one- or two-year newspaper subscription, costing up to $13 per month.

Device quality: This is an issue for the cheapest tablets. For instance, one reviewer noted that the touchscreen performance on the Philly.com tablet is less than stellar.

In contrast, the Nook Color has been getting generally favorable reviews for device quality. The advance Kindle Fire reviews are also mostly positive.

Android's learning curve: This can be an obstacle for some. The straightforward Android experience that comes with tablets by Samsung, Motorola, Lenovo, and other manufacturers can be daunting to typical consumers -- especially the majority of U.S. consumers who don't yet own a smartphone. A more constrained but dependable out-of-the-box user experience can be simpler to learn and can make the average consumer happier, at least initially.
---------
However, most "pure" Android tablets do offer one key advantage over constrained e-reader tablets: direct access to Google's Android Market, where there's a virtually unlimited choice of apps.
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The coming year -- especially the 2011 holiday season -- will probably indicate whether smaller tablets will play a leading role in the U.S. digital media landscape. If these devices start becoming as commonplace as iPhones and Kindles, they may become popular and powerful tools for the delivery of mobile services for health, education, jobs, and more.

Sure, you can use a small, cheap tablet to read books, watch YouTube, and play "Angry Birds." But maybe someday lots of people will be using these devices to get a college degree -- or perhaps to learn to read in the first place.


http://www.cnn.com/2011/10/25/tech/gaming-gadgets/smaller-cheaper-tablets/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a Washington Post story on mini-tablet Akash:

The Aakash tablet: The Aakash hit the United States courtesy of Washington Post columnist Vivek Wadhwa. Wadhwa, received the tablet from Kapil Sibal, the Indian minister of human resources and development, and took it to the folks at VentureBeat labs to pick it apart (not literally, but almost) to see what it could do. They posted their review Wednesday, providing photos in a sneak peak at the Android-based device.

VentureBeat’s Chikodi Chima wrote of the tablet:

Jugaad is an Indian word which means “to make-do.” The Aakash tablet is a Jugaad in a very high tech way. The components inside the Aakash tablet are cheap, and easily sourced. For example, the Aakash tablet has a headphone jack and an audio-in jack, but no external speakers -- an obvious cost-savings measure. However, with the addition of a cheap headphones, and an equally cheap microphone, the owner can make calls on Skype, and has the potential to communicate with people around the world.

The device will retail for about $60 and, thanks to a partnership between the Indian government and Canadian company DataWind, will likely provide 10 to 12 million Indian students with access to the Web and some of the latest features in mobile technology by the end of this year.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/innovations/post/indias-aakash-tablet-vs-the-ipad/2011/09/16/gIQAYmshPM_blog.html

Riaz Haq said...

In addition to 3G broadband data connection, PTCL’s EVO Tab also supports GSM voice network and you can use cellular Sim and use it as your phone to make voice calls. Evo Tab is available in two different colors i.e. Grey Stone & Ivory White.

This tablet is manufactures by IVIO China.

Here are some of PTCL's EVO 3G mini-tablet's specs;

Salient Features:

Weigh: 429 grams
Dual Sim: 2 sim card slots
Quad Core Processor
7 inch screen WVGA LCD 800 X 480 resolution Capacitive touch screen with multi-touch support
512 MB RAM
Android Froyo
Modem: Built-in Device
WiFi
Bluetooth
A-GPS
Office viewer and editor
3.5mm jack

Box PackingBox Contains:

3G Evo Tab
Stereo Earphones with Mic
Micro USB Cable
USB Power Adapter
Free Sleeve Pouch
Documentation
Warranty Card

Vikram said...

Is it possible that the data for the percent of population using internet is not accurate ? If it is accurate, then Pakistan's internet penetration rate is twice that of India's. Some analysis of data from internet tracking firm alexa.com seems to say that the difference in internet penetration in the two countries is about the same.

These are among the top 10 sites for Pakistan and the proportion of visits from India and Pakistan:

Facebook: India (7.4 %), Pak (1.1 %)
Youtube: I (7.4%), P (1.4%)
Blogspot: I (10.3%), P (1.6%)
Wikipedia: I (6.8%), P (0.9%)
Twitter: I (5.6%), P (0.9%)

So the average ratio of India to Pakistan hits is 6.36, while the population of India is 6.8 times that of Pakistan.

So while it does seem that Pakistan has a better penetration rate than India, I am not sure if the difference is as big as 100% !

Thanks.

Riaz Haq said...

Vikram: "Is it possible that the data for the percent of population using internet is not accurate ? "

The source of the internet penetration data I quote is World Bank's World Development Indicators.

http://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=d5bncppjof8f9_&met_y=it_net_user&idim=country:USA&dl=en&hl=en&q=internet+penetration#ctype=l&strail=false&bcs=d&nselm=h&met_y=it_net_user_p2&scale_y=lin&ind_y=false&rdim=country&idim=country:PAK:IND&ifdim=country&hl=en&dl=en

Other sources such as Internet World Stats also indicate higher penetration rates in Pakistan but they show the gap is smaller....8.5% India vs 10.9% Pakistan.

http://www.internetworldstats.com/asia.htm

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Times report on "Social media playing major role in reshaping society":

KARACHI: Advisor to Sindh Chief Minister Sharmila Farooqi has said that the social media was emerging like a revolution, enabling to connect with the people around the world without any boundaries of language, caste, creed or distance.
This she said while speaking as a chief guest at a three-day workshop on social media for media professionals at Arabian Sea Country Club Karachi on Saturday, organised by the Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF).
Fourteen media professionals, working in the conflict-zone of the country, participated in the workshop. Farooqi said that social media had brought the world closer and also increased individual to individual contacts, which helped in disseminating the information within seconds.
She said that in the present era of technology, the social media had become so important and an easier way to become a source of information as well as connectivity to get maximum response from the people.
Farooqi appreciated the
PPF for organising such an informative workshop for the media professionals.
Speaking on the occasion, Secretary General PPF Owais Aslam Ali said that journalists could get maximum benefits from the social media as they could bring their work before the world without any limitations of space and time.
He said that through this workshop, the journalists could get knowledge and learning through which they could build their credibility.
They said social media is the future of journalism as it gives journalists the maximum space and time for their news, views and opinions without any editing and restriction with maximum reach and connectivity.
On the occasion, journalists from Quetta, Landikotal, Bajaur Agency, FATA and Swat shared their experiences. ppi


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\10\09\story_9-10-2011_pg12_4

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...

British Council Pakistan is organising the Education UK virtual exhibition in Pakistan from 21 November to 30 November 2011.

Pakistan remains an important and rewarding market for the UK but it is equally a challenging environment in which to operate. Virtual exhibitions, as an appropriate remote method of recruitment, have a role in developing a flexible, sustainable approach to service provision that is appropriate to the unique operating context in Pakistan.

With a rapid increase in the number of Internet users and Internet Service Providers, and a large English-speaking population, Pakistani society has seen an unparalleled revolution in communications. Internet access has been available in Pakistan since the mid-1990s. Pakistan is reported as the most connected country in South Asia, with the highest teledensity. Today there are over 20 million frequent internet users in Pakistan.

The core objectives of developing our virtual exhibitions’ offering are to:

To provide an opportunity to showcase UK education to the public and key influencers via an interactive on-line platform
Provide a cost-effective means of outreach in the current economic climate
Offer an alternative to the traditional exhibition format in a market where delivery of a standard exhibition is not viable

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...

Here's an Express Tribune report tiled "Nokia Sees Pakistan Becoming a High-Growth Market":

KARACHI: Foreign delegates and local entrepreneurs discussed challenges facing businesses, sought greater industry-academia collaboration and highlighted business models to succeed in an emerging market at the 12th Management Association of Pakistan (MAP) Convention on Leadership Challenges for Business Success here on Wednesday.

Emerging markets will account for 80% of the world’s growth the next decade and Pakistan will be an important emerging market in future, Senior Vice President of Nokia India, Middle East and Africa Shivakumar said in a speech titled “Winning in emerging markets”.

Speaking to a conference packed with businessmen, Shivakumar – who is also the senior vice president of All India Management Association (AIMA) – said growth in developed economies has slowed down dramatically and the world is now looking at emerging markets, which account for 42% of population and 13% of income.

Pakistan is listed in four categories of emerging markets including Dow Jones 35 and emerging and growth level economies (EAGLES), he said. “Pakistan will be an important high-growth emerging market.”

In order to succeed in an emerging economy, he said, it is important to understand its segments and consumers. The emerging market consumers – most of whom live under $2 a day – are value-sensitive and not price-sensitive, he said and added entrepreneurs have to work on their business models to accommodate that segment of consumers who believe in the doctrine of “pay more, get more” and “pay less, get less”.

Sharing his experiences, he said, there are three things that he applied and succeeded. “Always put the country’s interest first, keep fixed costs very low and turn as many cost variables as possible,” he said.

“Never cut the features and offer your product at half the price. Consumers don’t want an incomplete product.”

Speaking to the participants earlier on, event’s chief guest and State Bank of Pakistan Governor Yaseen Anwar said it is time for all business leaders and managers to take the lead. Leaders must be more aware of the challenges facing the country – inflation, unemployment and power crisis.

There are no shortcuts to sustained economic development, Anwar said. “We need to develop the right strategies and then translate these strategies into action.”

AIMA President Rajiv Vastupal also addressed the event, saying IMF has lowered growth projection for both 2011 and 2012. “Today’s corporate leaders must focus on innovation to counter the global economic challenges,” he said. He elaborated the successful example of Apple’s iPad, which was launched during recession and earned a great success.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/306766/nokia-sees-pakistan-becoming-a-high-growth-market/

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 in The Nation about the use of mobile phones to deliver teacher training and resources:

ISLAMABAD - Nokia and UNESCO Islamabad have launched “Mobile Learning Project for Teacher’s Professional Development” on Thursday as formal collaboration took place in the presence of senior government officials, Nokia and UNESCO representatives.
As part of this programme, UNESCO and Nokia are joining hands, where Nokia is providing a technology solution known as Nokia Education Delivery to the UNESCO project ‘use of ICT for professional development of public school teachers’ in remote areas.
In Pakistan, through the project, Nokia will help UNESCO to enable the delivery of high- quality educational materials to teachers who lack training and resources.
Through mobile phones teachers will be given an opportunity to train themselves. Nokia developed the Nokia Education Delivery programme to allow using a mobile phone to access and download videos and other educational materials from a constantly updated education library.
Speaking about the project, UNESCO Director, Kozue Kai Nagata said, “In 21st century public-private partnerships are enjoying growing attention and support as a new and sustainable modality for development.
We are confident to collaborate with Nokia to provide us with the best platform to train public school teachers. Nokia Education Delivery programme is fit to match our need of delivering quality training to a large number of public school teachers across Pakistan through the project named “Mobile Learning for Teachers”.
Amir Jahangir, President AGAHI and a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, shared his views on the launch that “Pakistan is a knowledge starved country, where universal education has its own challenges. To meet the target of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) on education, Pakistan needs to address its education challenges through innovation and technology which can reach to a larger population with cost effective solutions”.
This unique pilot project for Pakistan has been initiated by UNESCO and AGAHI while Nokia Pakistan will enable the project implementation by providing not just Nokia devices but a complete solution via its Nokia Education Delivery programme.


http://nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Business/23-Dec-2011/Nokia-Unesco-join-hands

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...

Here's an opinion of Mike Elgan of Zambotimes about India's $35 tablet:

I've been very negative about India's so-called $35 tablet, called the Aakash. Here's why.

The original promise was that Indian engineering geniuses at Indian universities had "made a breakthrough" that would enable millions of $35, solar-powered touch-tablets to be distributed to Indian students, transforming education. Well, it's not solar powered, it's manufactured in India but not made by an Indian company and it costs more than $35.

A little while later, India's human resource development minister Kapil Sibal emphatically promised that the government would deliver one million $35 tablets to Indian students by the end of 2011. It never happened.

https://plus.google.com/113117251731252114390/posts/cHaVtSq2tKR

The whole project is just political pandering to Indian nationalism, and, as such, has plenty of defenders and apologists.

What nobody seems to appreciate, however, is that the project is a frontal assault on both the Indian technology industry and the cause of Indian education.

The Aakash project has two components: 1) subsidy; and 2) a specific product.

In order to get the subsidy, you have to buy the product. And this is why it fails.

The government has determined the specifications of the tablet. In order to get the a tablet partly paid for by Indian taxpayers, you have to buy it from a London-based company called DataWind.

Meanwhile, some of the lowest-cost tablets in the world are made by Indian companies.

Every subsidized sale to DataWind is a sale taken away from an Indian company -- or, for that matter, a Chinese company or any other company that could build a better tablet than the good-for-nothing piece of junk the government is convincing everyone to buy.

The government should have provided the same subsidy, but allowed users to pick their tablet, engendering innovation, right-sizing for task and competition.


EFYtimes.com has posted the 12 reasons why Aakash tablet sucks: In a nutshell, the Aakash: costs more than they said it does, especially if you buy the storage cards necessary to make it useful; is horribly underpowered (256 MB RAM); the processor is feeble; the display is incredibly reflective (hopefully there's no sunshine in rural India); has miserable battery life; overheats easily; has a clunky resistive, rather than capacitive, touchscreen; does not support Bluetooth; can't be upgraded with either hardware or software (it's an Android tablet that can't use Android apps!); has no speakers and does not come with earbuds or headphones; and supports Wi-Fi, which rural Indians don't have access to.


Yet more than a million people have ordered one in large part based on trust of the government.

What a disaster.

The tablet is part of a larger initiative aimed at improving India's educational system through technology. It will originally be delivered by mid-2011, subsidized, to higher-education institutions for the estimated $35


http://www.zambotimes.com/archives/41689-Indias-35-tablet-disaster-now-becoming-apparent.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from "Back to Pakistan" by Leslie Noyes Mass talking about the extensive telecom coverage in remote Northern areas of Pakistan:

"The Eagles Nest is aptly named: it perches on top of a ridge amid rocky scree and jagged peaks. Behind us are 24000-feet snowcapped summits, soaring into the sky. Below, the valley where we have spent the past few days is recognizable by its row of cell phone towers and the Hunza River. I have been astonished that, remote as we are in Hunza, first-class cell phone and Internet connections are available 24/7. We are as close to civilization as the briefest click and as far away the loosest stone on that crumbling highway north or south."

http://books.google.com/books?id=_BtWtuLlDXoC&pg=PA44&lpg=PA44&dq=inquiry+based+learning+pakistan&source=bl&ots=6DRcWG5-r7&sig=7_vsfOS2Xet_zFFmqRmduY-hR24&hl=en&sa=X&ei=6rEHT93tEeqFiAKO_aWyCQ&sqi=2&ved=0CFEQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=cell%20towers&f=false

The highway Mass is referring to is the world's highest called Karakoram Highway at an altitude of over 15000 feet. It's currently being repaired and expanded with Chinese help. Talking about it, she writes:

"I wonder what a wide, asphalt highway would do to this area--bring more tourists and trade and change forever the lives of the people in the distant villages hidden among the rocks, I imagine."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune story about Pakistan's first tablet computer offered by Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC):

The newest entrant in the market for tablets and eBook readers – dominated by the likes of Apple, Amazon and Samsung – is none other than the Pakistani military.

The Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) Kamra, whose self-described mission is “to produce and support weapon systems for a high state of operational readiness of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF)”, has started up a new commercial venture with a Chinese company, which an official told The Express Tribune was to “strengthen the national economy”.

The first three products produced by PAC are a computing tablet, a notebook and an eBook reader.

A press release issued at the launch of the project on December 29 notes that “for the joint production of JF-17, PAF had established sufficient facilities which are appropriate for the production of both defence and commercial products.”

The PAC official, who asked not to be named, told The Express Tribune that the joint venture with the Chinese company Innavtek had taken off with the initial offering of three products. “We plan to expand this in the future.”

The venture website, cpmc.pk, states that “Innavtek jointly developed two products with Avionics Production Factory which are successfully flying on fleet of our JF-17 aircraft and three more products are under co development phase.”

The official said that while PAC would manufacture the products, marketing was Innavtek’s responsibility.

He said the products were initially being marketed in Rawalpindi, but modalities needed to be finalised so it could expand to other cities including Lahore and Karachi. “We will get in touch with courier companies to see if we can reach a deal to transport them,” he said.

The competitively priced products, he said, have several benefits because they are being manufactured in Kamra. “It comes with a joint one-year warranty of PAC and Innavtek. Because PAC is producing it, it will ensure quality. We will also provide backup support,” the official said. In the first stage of this venture, PAC will manufacture the products locally but there are plans for an exchange of personnel to be trained in China and Pakistan respectively.

PAC’s plan to “strengthen the national economy” via its new commercial venture means it has to capitalise on “current trends”.

Jehan Ara, the president of the Pakistan Software Houses Association (PASHA), said she was unaware of the venture. She was skeptical that customers would buy PAC’s products just because they were manufactured by the Pakistani military. “People with a fixed budget will test products, read reviews and get recommendations from friends and then buy something. They don’t buy just because of a name. They will test it out of curiosity and put up reviews etc.” She also said governments around the world and in Pakistan buy computers from vendors based on pricing and reliability, and should not be forced to buy from a specific vendor.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/331525/from-kamra-to-karachi-via-the-chinese-military-debuts-in-the-handheld-market/

http://www.cpmc.pk/

Riaz Haq said...

The prices for Pakistan's PAC (Pakistan Aeronautical Complex) computers range from Rs. 8,000 for PAC eBook reader tablet, to Rs. 15,000 for PAC PAD 1 tablet and Rs. 23,500 for PAC nBook.

Check out PakAccounts.com for specs more details.

http://pakaccountants.com/pakistan-introduced-ebook-reader-notebook-tablet-pc/

Here's a link to a video about Pakistan Aeronautical Complex products.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oMbzyTun7Q&feature=related

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 ProPakistani.com story on Punjab govt giving away laptops to students:

Shahbaz Sharif, Chief Minister Punjab, today launched the free laptop scheme in Punjab, under which 110,000 free laptops will be given away to bright students in the province.

During a launch ceremony at Punjab University Lahore, Mr. Sharif announced that giveaway of 110,000 laptops will be start from February 2nd, 2012 in Rahim Yar Khan and will run district wise to complete the delivery in whole province by end of March.

He mentioned that Punjab Government spent Rs. 4 billion for 110,000 free laptops, while another 300,000 laptops are likely to be approved for free giveaway next year.

Chief Minister also unveiled his plans for providing free internet connection at home for students, however, he said that procedures are being worked out to achieve the project.

He announced that whole of Punjab University and its campuses will be equipped with WiFi for free and portable internet access. It is likely that other government universities will be converted into such hotspots as well.

On the occasion, he unveiled Dell Laptops that are supposed to be given away in the scheme. Black skinned laptops are going to be for boys while red colored laptops for the girls.

It appears that Laptops given away to students are Dell Inspiron N5050.


http://propakistani.pk/2012/01/30/punjab-laptop-scheme-launched-free-internet-to-be-offered-soon/

Riaz Haq said...

Khan Academy.org is the 6485th most popular site in Pakistan based on a combination of average daily visitors and pageviews. 1.3% of the Khan Academy.org users come from Pakistan and they generate 0.6% of the pageviews on Khan Academy.org, according to Alexa.

http://www.appappeal.com/maps/khan-academy-org/

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...

Here are excerpts of a Business Recorder interview with PTCL SVP-Part 1:

BR Research: What does it really mean when PTCL says 'Hello to the future'?

Naveed Saeed: PTCL has undergone massive transition since it has been taken over by Etisalat in 2006.

Now, it's a transformed company with a new outlook, new culture, new management, and new focus, and has become more customer-friendly and customer-centric.

It has moved on to the next level, and launched new services for both the wireless and wire line segments.

Today, PTCL's portfolio includes services like Smart TV and EVO, and products like Smartphones and tablets.

This essentially takes us into the futuristic direction.

Thanks to the large platform and network available with PTCL, our capacities to design, host, store and manage multiple services are immense.

So, we are actually telling our customers to say "Hello to the future" with PTCL.

This reflects our brand philosophy and our future direction in the business.
----------
Today, we have close to 800,000 DSL users, over 200,000 EVDO users, and these numbers are growing.

These are high revenue and high margin customers, so it makes more business sense for us to sell one broadband connection rather than running after 3 or 4 PSTN connections.

BRR: So, what is the strategy in action at PTCL, to diversify the revenue mix away from Voice to other emerging segments?

NS: The strategy is to make the PSTN connection a prerequisite for a customer to avail broadband services.

For the future, we are contemplating to offer double play services, rather than giving the PSTN connection alone.

That's the model, and then we'll gradually go for triple play (voice, data and video), and then quad play which includes surveillance, too.

Our "PTCL Jadoo campaign" is a step in that direction, which offers a PSTN connection, bundled with DSL broadband, IPTV, wifi hotspot and EVO backup.

Our business is to specialise in certain domains and provide customised solutions in every single one of them.

Through unified connectivity platforms, we are moving towards cloud services where businesses would have dumb terminals and computers at their end, and their data storage would be happening at our end.

That's the dimension we are moving towards where businesses get rid of their data warehouses and telephone terminals, and depend on us from emails to phone calls (VoIP) to broadband to mobility.

We have the capacity to offer all these services under one umbrella............

http://www.brecorder.com/company-news/235/1158667/

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts of a Business Recorder interview with PTCL SVP---Part 2:

.........BRR: How well-poised is PTCL to take advantage of the evolving data-age in Pakistan?

NS: Globally, data connectivity platforms, which are more efficient and accessible, are being used for Voice services, too.

Smartphones and tablets, coupled with a plethora of applications, have given a boom to this data age.

The Pakistani telecom market, which has hit saturation point in the Voice segment, is going in that direction; therefore, growth will be driven by the data market.

PTCL is extremely well-positioned to take advantage of that because we are backed up by the fiber optic, backhaul, long haul infrastructure, and under-sea cable infrastructures.

We have data centers, landing stations, internet gateways, IPTV services and unified communication platforms.

On the business side, the per capita data consumption is going to be far bigger than that in Voice, because there is so much that can be extracted from data services.

Commerce, logistics, trading, and banking - all of them have to eventually move on to the data platforms.

This has already started in Pakistan.

For instance, we have connected over a thousand branches of National Bank of Pakistan, and given them a total new network and centralised connectivity.

So, whether one likes it or not, Voice is going to take a back seat, and data is going to be the primary driver for connectivity and business growth.

Customised iPads for various business functions have been launched in the West.

For instance, Industrial iPads have been marketed in the US for inventory management, logistics, etc.

I believe that Pakistanis are going to be early adopters in this data age.

We have been gearing up for that by launching customised, 3G-enabled Smartphones and tablets.

We are offering the device as well as data connectivity in a price that is unmatchable, and the market uptake has been really good.

We are contemplating to launch another tablet device soon.

BRR: Since you are marketing customised Smartphones too, what is your take on the dynamics of the Smartphone market in Pakistan.

Will the device usage increase in the foreseeable future?

NS: The mobile network operators have the ability to identify the exact profile of the Smartphone users on their respective networks.

That's one of the bases that the MNOs are ambitious about the upcoming 3G spectrum auction.

The size of the Smartphone market is estimated to be between five to six million users in Pakistan.

This market will eventually outgrow the dumb phone market because a smart phone is capable to communicate with platforms like Android and Apple's iOS, which are very versatile compared to conventional STK platforms.

Mobile applications and the 3G-enabled data experience are worthwhile only on a Smartphone.

After the 3G spectrum auction, the circulation of smartphones is bound to increase.

MNOs would be pushing themselves to protect their 'Smartphone category' of high-end users....

http://www.brecorder.com/company-news/235/1158667/

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts of a Business Recorder interview with PTCL SVP--Part 3:

...BRR: How do you see the future of tablet computers in Pakistan?

NS: The uptake is already happening.

We recently gave a presentation to CM Punjab, who is now contemplating to adopt the tablet model after distributing laptops to students.

PTCL is trying to evolve applications that can potentially transform the way education is provided.

We are envisaging a scenario where education is provided through tablet computers.

This model would offer a complete academic environment on a single device.

Students wouldn't have to buy books, because they will be available on an e-Reader on the tablet.

We are trying to develop a column where they can write notes and highlight important points.

The teacher would immediately learn about the class attendance as students walking into the class would automatically be registered.

Class work, quizzes, home assignments and final exams would be disseminated through these tablets and submitted back through the same.

This model has received immense attention in India, where the government is soon going to make it mandatory for all the schools.

Tablets costing less than $50 are on offer in India.

I have a feeling, if we adopt this model we are going to leap much ahead because we are less structured than India.

We at PTCL are convinced that we have to bring this service to the community.

BRR: Pakistan's is over a hundred million mobile-user market.

Why is it that not a single mobile manufacturing company is found in Pakistan?

NS: That is really ironic because the mobile handsets market in Pakistan is still very large, as roughly one million new cellular subscribers are being added to the tally every month.

This is a big market where roughly one million handsets are required by just the new subscribers.

Add to this the upgrades and replacement of handsets and we are looking at a demand of at least two million new handsets per month.

If we take the average price at $50, which is a very conservative price, then that's at least $100 million in foreign exchange lost every month.

The mobile handset manufacturers should have come to Pakistan long ago.

Hundreds of millions of dollars are unnecessarily going out of the country on handset purchases.

At least some brands, if not the top brands, should have been here.

BRR: Being a wireless broadband service provider, how would PTCL compete with the soon-to-enter 3G operators who will be offering high-speed mobile broadband?

NS: We are in no way threatened because our primal business is wire line and our support is wireless.

Thanks to its optic fiber network, PTCL can offer upto 100MB broadband to its users, and a host of other services including IPTV, surveillance, etc.

We are selling our dongles, and we will continue that after the 3G rollout.

Today, our wireless footprint, spreading over 200 cities, is at par with any GSM operator.

BRR: How do you foresee the appetite and uptake of 3G-enabled services in the low ARPU segments?

NS: We have already seen very high usage of internet services from rural areas, and interestingly the per capita data usage is actually higher in smaller cities compared to large cities.

This is perhaps because of greater quest for knowledge due to lesser access to the information highways among the dwellers of these areas.

So, the uptake would happen.

There was a stage when many in Pakistan did not know how to use SMS.

Yet today, Pakistanis are one of the most SMS savvy nations in the world.

This service is going to affect everyone in society.

The content is there, the platforms are there, the applications are there, the push is there, and the will and desire are there...

http://www.brecorder.com/company-news/235/1158667/

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts of a Business Recorder interview with PTCL SVP--Part 4:

...BRR: Any progress vis-à-vis stepping into the branchless banking market?

NS: The Etisalat group is very much interested in this market.

Though it is still evolving, we, as a group, feel that we can really benefit out of the huge market of commerce, remittances, banking and financial transactions and cross-border commerce by leveraging the outreach of Ufone and PTCL.

We are looking at having our own financial institution to be able to offer branchless banking services.

Ideally, we are best suited to lay the platforms, connect all the banks and the MNOs.

http://www.brecorder.com/company-news/235/1158667/

Riaz Haq said...

China Mobile to bid in Pakistan's 3G auction, reports China Daily:

China Mobile Communications Corp, the parent company of the world's biggest mobile operator by user numbers, has confirmed its participation in an auction of Pakistan's third-generation wireless spectrum.

With Pakistan as an example, the company intends to expand its operations to a greater number of emerging markets, according to Wang Jianzhou, chairman of China Mobile, in an exclusive interview with China Daily.

The company is also seeking opportunities to become a minority shareholder in telecom carriers in the European or North American markets, said Wang.

"We would like to be strategic investors (in them), which will help us achieve synergies," said Wang.

The company's decision to join the auction may help it strengthen its foothold in the fast-growing telecom market in South Asia.

Pakistan has been the only overseas market for China Mobile since it bought Paktel Ltd, a loss-making Pakistani carrier, for $284 million from Millicom International Cellular SA in 2007. The company was renamed China Mobile Pakistan, or CMPak, and its services were rebranded as "Zong" in 2008.

"If we succeed (in the auction), we will provide the Pakistani people with 3G services on a Wideband Code Division Multiple Access network, as the spectrums being auctioned are suitable for WCDMA technology," Wang said.

China Mobile's business in Pakistan is performing well, although CMPak is still only the fifth-largest telecom operator among the six players in the market, according to the company.

"More than four years ago, when we bought Paktel, it was on the brink of bankruptcy, but now the company can generate enough cash flow to maintain its operations," Wang said.

The Zong brand has seen the largest net growth in mobile users in Pakistan in the past three years, according to the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority. Zong had a user base of 13.2 million by October, rising from less than 1.5 million in 2007.

Earlier this month, Fan Yunjun, chief executive officer of CMPak Ltd, told the website of China Radio International that China Mobile has invested $1.5 billion in Pakistan to date.

Wang said one of the advantages for China Mobile in overseas business is that its subsidiaries will be able to leverage the parent company's economies of scale to reduce costs and maintain competitiveness. For example, China Mobile's procurement plan means that CMPak can buy cheaper equipment than its domestic rivals.

"We have the intention to expand overseas," Wang emphasized. The experience gained from its operations in China and Pakistan will boost the company's confidence in stepping into other overseas markets, especially in the emerging markets. ....


http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/cndy/2012-03/14/content_14827869.htm

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...

Here's an Express Tribune story for PTA's case for 3G auction:

While the expert stressed on developing content for 3G, PTA argued launching the spectrum will automatically lead to content development.

“Demand for data is increasing and the availability of infrastructure (3G) will enhance usage of data services and improve the content development, which will make business case for a new player,” PTA’s chairman Mohammed Yaseen said.

The PTA chief also said it was a misconception that the average revenue per user (ARPU) is low in Pakistan. “The ARPU of voice services for 2G should be relevant to economies of scale,” he said, adding, “3G enhances ARPU in any case. There are case studies of developing countries where introduction of 3G increases the ARPUs of operators like in Egypt.”

Pakistanis, Yaseen said, are already using 17 million smart phones. The import and adoption of smart phones is very high and is increasing every year while more people are using tablets, he said. The use of these devices is not expected to decrease by any chance, which means appetite for “wireless high speed internet on move” will also increase; he said.

Additionally, Yaseen said, there are consumers who want to use data services on their handsets. However, they have either not subscribed to it or subscribed to it but don’t use it because of low speed and freezing of the operating system – Last year’s BBM outages frustrated the users for example.

Personal Computer (PC) internet usage is stagnant for the last three years due to cost of PC, he said. However, the internet usage by mobile phones is increasing exponentially, he said, presently 13 million people are using mobile internet. “It shows the growth potential of mobile phone internet usage,” he added.

Presently the data contributions to the ARPU range from 12% to 17% as calculated by PTA, he said.

The experts have also argued the base price – $210 million – is high. The base price, PTA chief said, was calculated keeping in view various factors and international best practices and was smaller than some markets of smaller economies where 3G was auctioned.

Whether or not a new player should enter the market is debatable. The existing players, however, seem to be gearing up for the much delayed auction. Mobilink, Ufone and Zong have confirmed their participation and even upgraded their telecom hardware to 3G.

Despite the global economic recession, there is an enabling environment for cellular business in Pakistan; Mobilink president Rashid Khan said. Referring to the base price for 3G auction, he added, it was reasonable and determined on the basis of telecom policy.

Ufone will be the first to compete for a 3G license in Pakistan; said Walid Irshaid who is the CEO and President of PTCL – parent company of Ufone. “We have no option but to succeed,” he said. It is going to be really difficult for the 2G “leftover” operators in the post-3G environment, Irshad said, because high revenue-generating subscribers would switch over to 3G networks.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/352827/feasibility-pta-makes-a-business-case-for-3g-spectrum-in-pakistan/

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 a PC World update on India's Akash tablet PC:

India's highly touted $35 tablet, set to ship in two to three weeks, is getting a makeover with improved hardware and Google's Android 4.0 OS, according to the company assembling the device for the Indian government.

The second-generation Aakash 2 will have a 7-inch capacitive multitouch screen and a faster single-core, 800MHz ARM Cortex-A8 processor, said Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO of Datawind. The new $35 tablet will ship with Android 2.3, but will be upgradeable to Android 4.0 about six to eight weeks after delivery, Tuli said.

"The product development is complete and deliveries are expected to start for Aakash 2 in about two or three weeks," Tuli said in an email.

The tablet's total price is around $45, and the Indian government will subsidize that to $35, Tuli said. The Indian government has budgeted for the acquisition of about 5 million units for the country's fiscal year, which started on April 1, and the tablet will be further upgraded as component prices come down, Tuli said.

The original $35 tablet was announced in July 2010 by the Indian government as a subsidized low-cost computing device for students in the country. Shipments started late last year but have been affected by disputes between Datawind and an Indian education institution responsible for providing specifications and testing the tablet.

The Aakash 2 is a significant upgrade over the original $35 tablet, Aakash, which means sky in Hindi. The original tablet had a 7-inch resistive touchscreen, Android 2.2 and a slower 366MHz processor based on an older ARM architecture. The Aakash 2 will have 256MB of RAM and 2GB flash storage, which are the same as the original $35 tablet.

The tablet will likely be upgraded to dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processors by the end of the year, Tuli said. Many tablets today use Cortex-A9 processors, including models from Samsung, Asus, Acer and Lenovo.

"We're confident that by the fall, Cortex A9 dual-core processors will be in the same [price] range as what Cortex A8 is at today," Tuli said.

The development and deployment of the original Aakash tablet has been marred by controversies. The Indian government was expected to buy 8 million to 10 million units of the original Aakash tablet by March 31 this year, which was the end of the Indian fiscal year. But shipments have been much lower than expected mostly due to disagreements between Datawind and Indian Institute of Technology-Rajasthan, which was responsible for providing specifications and field testing for the device.

The differences between Datawind and IIT-Rajasthan related to testing criteria used to see if the tablet met certain requirements, Tuli said. The original Aakash device was tested on parameters such as shock, water resistance, temperature and dust and humidity, according to a document sent by Tuli describing test results.

IIT-Rajasthan has now been removed from the project, and the Aakash project has been transferred to the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay, Tuli said. IIT-Bombay will also be the first buyer of Aakash 2 and purchase about 100,000 units. IIT-Bombay, in Mumbai, and IIT-Rajasthan, in Jodhpur, are among the top science and engineering educational institutions in India.

IIT-Rajasthan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


http://www.pcworld.com/article/253458/indias_35_tablet_getting_new_hardware_android_40.html

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 a SJ Mercury News story on use of videoconferencing for education in developing countries:

Videoconferences have largely been confined to offices. Not anymore. New technologies developed by Polycom and other videoconference vendors let employees use smartphones and tablet devices join in no matter where they are.

It's a "game changer" for Chris Plutte and his line of work -- using videoconferencing to connect students from countries around the world with students in American schools to help them better understand each other and the countries they call home.

"This opens up a whole new opportunity for us. It's about access for us," said Plutte, executive director of New York-based Global Nomads Group, a nonprofit he co-founded in 1998 that is currently linking several schools in the United States with those in Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo for town-hall type meetings.

"It's pretty amazing. In the past, students and schools that participated in our programs had to have a (wired) Internet connection. They needed to have a computer. They needed to have electricity," he said. "This is a game changer for us in that (videoconferencing) can now reach more rural schools in developing countries like Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo."
------------
"It's called the consumerization of IT," said Costello, the IDC analyst. "These devices are coming into the workplace."

Total smartphone shipments worldwide reached 472 million in 2011, up 53 percent from 2010, said a Gartner report. Tablets are also growing, with Gartner projecting that by the end of 2015, more than 900 million will have been sold.

"This is about the ability to connect to different types of people on different types of devices on any network. It's device-agnostic. You can have a smartphone connected to a tablet to a laptop to a high-end HD videoconferencing in an office," said Randel Maestre, vice president of worldwide industry and field marketing for Polycom, which is in the midst of moving its Pleasanton headquarters to San Jose by the end of May.

"Our vision is to make video collaboration and videoconferencing ubiquitous," he said.

Polycom isn't the only company with that vision.

Last year, San Jose-based Cisco rolled out Jabber, a free downloadable application for smartphones and tablets that allows multiparty videoconferencing as well as access to voice, instant messaging and voice mail for existing Cisco customers.

"Work is not a place you go to -- it's where you are at. You can work if you happen to be at the airport," said Michael Smith, Cisco's senior director for collaborative application marketing. "These mobile devices like tablets now give us the power to do videoconferencing even when we're not in the videoconference room."


http://business-news.thestreet.com/mercury-news/story/videoconferencing-steps-out-the-office-0/1

http://gng.org/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Nation report on Telenor's growing business:

Telenor Pakistan posted record quarterly revenue of Rs 23 billion according to the latest figures released by the Telenor Group, says a press release. It added 615,000 subscriptions during April-June, ending with 29.9 million subscribers, a growth of 12pc over the same quarter last year. The company’s EBITDA margin observed an impressive YoY growth of 26pc, while market share remained stable at 24pc.Chief Executive Officer Lars Christian Iuel, speaking about the solid quarter figures, said: “I am pleased with the performance of Telenor Pakistan in the second quarter of 2012. Despite operating in a challenging business environment, we have posted strong results, which are a testament of our employees’ hard work and unrelenting dedication.” During the second quarter of the year, Telenor Pakistan launched the second phase of its mobile phone application development project Djuice Opportunity. The company also joined hands with the Government of Punjab and AJK for provision of information service via SMS to farmers.Also in the reporting period, Telenor Talkshawk Internet Champion– a knowledge-based initiative to help empower digital generation in Pakistan– was concluded in AJK, whereas it is currently underway in Punjab. Overall, Telenor Group reported revenues of NOK 25.4 billion, representing an organic revenue growth of 5%. EBITDA before other items was NOK eight billion, EBITDA margin was 31.7% and operating cash flow was NOK 5.1billion. With five million new customers added in the period, Telenor’s total subscription base has now passed 150 million.

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/business/26-Jul-2012/telenor-pakistan-continues-to-perform-well-in-q2-2012

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 report on Huawei launching smartphones in Pakistan:

Huawei, a leading player in telecommunication is all set to launch 5 touch screen Android mobile phones in Pakistani market on July 16 in Lahore. The models are expected to be Ascend P1, U8860 Honor, U8850 Vision, Ascend G300, Ascend Y200.

Huawei has long been present in Pakistan providing network solutions to cellular operators. Although it has floated lower price handsets as a part of bundle offers in association with the leading cellular operators in Pakistan but this is the first official launch of Huawei’s smartphones in the local market. We cannot rule out the possibility of making available these smartphones as a bundle offer through cellular operators as being one of the largest network equipment provider in the world Huawei already has strong ties with the cellular operators.

Ascend P1 is the finest among all 5 having 7.7 mm thin body, Quad-band GSM and penta-band 3G with HSPA support, 4.3″ 16M-color capacitive Super AMOLED touchscreen, latest stable flavor Android OS v4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, Dual-core 1.5GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, 8 MP autofocus camera with LED flash, Standard 3.5 mm audio jack; Dolby Mobile 3.0+, SNS integration and everything else that what Android offers.

A little lower in price is U8860 Honor that is 11 mm in total and offers TFT capacitive touchscreen of 4.0 inches and 480 x 854 pixels of display, 1 GB storage, 512 MB RAM, 4 GB ROM, Qualcomm 1.4 GHz Scorpion, Android OS, v2.3 (Gingerbread), 8 MP, 3264×2448 pixels, autofocus, LED flash, SNS integration and much more.

With Huawei joining the scene, it will be a good sign for the local market where Samsung leads the smartphone category (thanks to Galaxy series) followed by HTC offering a wide range of smartphones.

As Nokia no more considered to be a challenge soon in the future and particularly after the fall of MegaGate, Q Mobile appears to be a third contender for a pie in the local Android market which is getting charged up with low priced Android based mobilephones.

Market analysts believe that Huawei with huge funds and better R&D will be a much better competitor for Samsung and HTC. It may knock out QMobile in the first round provided the distribution and sales network perform as per expectation. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to see how market reacts to this new entrant.

We have heard that expected price range of Huawei’ upcoming smartphones is PKR. 9,500 to PKR. 42,000.


http://www.moremag.pk/2012/07/14/huawei-launching-5-android-smartphones-in-pakistan-with-competitive-prices/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from recent Akamai's State of the Internet report for Q1-2012:

When it comes to average connection speeds, all of the top 10 countries experienced positive year-over-year changes in average connection speeds. Globally, a total of 125 countries experienced year-over-year increases and only 10 countries that qualified for inclusion saw declines in connection speeds. The global average connection speed in the first quarter was 2.6 Mbps.

Once again, South Korea (15.7 Mbps) featured the fastest average connection speed. Countries/regions rounding out the top 5 included Japan (10.9 Mbps), Hong Kong (9.3 Mbps), the Netherlands (8.8 Mbps) and Latvia (8.8 Mbps).

Year-over-year, the global average peak connection speed increased by 25 percent, and increases were also seen across all of the top 10 countries. Globally, nearly 130 qualifying countries saw year-over-year increases in average connection speeds, ranging from 3.8 percent growth in Pakistan (to 5.9 Mbps) to a 213 percent jump in Libya (to 3.8 Mbps). Only five countries saw a yearly decline in average peak connection speed, with the greatest loss in Tanzania, which dropped 21 percent (to 5.1 Mbps).

In the first quarter, Hong Kong took the top spot for average peak connection speed (49.3 Mbps), dropping South Korea (47.8) to second place. The remaining top 5 included Japan (39.5 Mbps), Romania (38.8 Mbps) and Latvia (33.5 Mbps).
---------
In the first quarter of 2012 Akamai found that a mobile provider in Germany delivered the fastest average connection speed at slightly less than 6 Mbps. Of all mobile operators tracked, five had an average connection speed of greater than 4 Mbps, while 65 mobile operators had average connection speeds greater than 1 Mbps. Only three providers had average connection speeds below 500 kbps.

When looking at peak connection speeds for the mobile providers worldwide for which Akamai analyzed data, a provider in Hong Kong offered the highest average peak connection speed of 32.2 Mbps. A German provider came in a close second at 31.2 Mbps. Overall, six mobile operators had average peak connection speeds of greater than 20 Mbps - double the number of the previous quarter. 31 providers had average peak connection speeds above 10 Mbps and all providers had average peak connection speeds above 2 Mbps.


http://www.darkreading.com/security/news/240005229/akamai-releases-first-quarter-2012-state-of-the-internet-report.html

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 Daily Times on online trading marketplace in Pakistan:

The team at Dekho.com.pk reveals Pakistan’s twin capital cities Rawalpindi/
Islamabad are the trading capitals in online second-hand items with a value of Rs 7,765.7 per capita.
Rawalpindi and Islamabad are followed by Lahore with Rs 6,904.2 per capita and Karachi Rs 1722.3 per capita as compared to Rs 851.37 per capita for Pakistan as a whole.
The Dekho.com.pk team confirmed Lahore has the most valued second hand trade value for cars with an average price of Rs 785,036 followed by Rawalpindi/Islamabad with Rs 761,252 and Karachi with Rs 626,951 possibly owing to Karachi being the first city on port-entry for all second hand imports.
Rawalpindi/Islamabad however proves to be the more technologically ambitious of the cities with an average price of Rs 13,149 for second-hand cellphones, mostly smartphones, followed by Lahore, which has an average value for second hand cellphone trade at Rs 12,526 and Karachi with Rs 11,284. Further analysis reveals with an average price of Rs 21,860,813 for houses in Karachi as compared to Rs 13,566,355 in Lahore, Rawalpindi/Islamabad has one of the lowest average values for houses with an average value of Rs 13,520,168.
Interestingly, the online trading of animals is also actively picking up with Lahore alone providing trading value of Rs 54,804,035 among which dogs and farm animals are the most popular. It also received over 5,700 job postings across Pakistan in these 10 months.
In terms of sheer numbers, Lahore is the online classified trading capital in Pakistan according to Dekho.com.pk with over 47 percent to Rs 75,946,267,779 of the online classified trading market share.
In Pakistan, the use of online shopping or trading mediums is still relatively new and despite this, the figures are so promising.
With over 20 million internet users in Pakistan, Dekho is one of Pakistan’s fastest growing free classifieds websites with a simple aim to provide a credible platform platform for online buyers and sellers to interact.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\08\29\story_29-8-2012_pg5_9

http://dekho.com.pk/

Riaz Haq said...

In addition to adding $500 million to Google's revenue, young Pakistanis are making significant voluntary contributions to Google offerings like Google Maps. This has attracted the attention of Google bosses like Eric Schmidt who recently visited Pakistan and described Pakistan's young demographics as a great asset.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2009/11/online-digital-maps-petaluma-to.html

Here's an ET report on Google in Pakistan:

Google earns an estimated $500 million in revenues from its users in Pakistan, about 1.3% of the firm’s global total, according executives at Google Pakistan, who held their first ever public event in the country to highlight the technology giant’s interest in the country.

“Pakistan is Google’s next big market in the region,” Google’s head of Emerging Market Development, Southeast Asia, Jana Levene told a gathering of IT experts, bloggers, businessmen and selected journalists at Pearl Continental hotel in Karachi on Monday.

The gathering comes after Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt visited Pakistan in June to meet with the country’s politicians and businessmen. “It was just a regular visit. He wanted to find out how important the use of technology for the country’s leadership and businessmen is,” said Badar Khushnood, Google’s consultant in Pakistan.

Moreover, Google has intensified its operations by getting involved in a lot of projects – especially with the Punjab government – in the country recently. “Innovation Punjab” is one example where Google has partnered with Punjab Information Technology Board. It has launched a social innovation fund – in collaboration with Pakistan Software Houses association, also their partner for the event – to support young entrepreneurs struggling to get their ideas public.

Google’s increased interest in the country, Schmidt’s visit of Pakistan and now this event sends very strong signals to the country – the giant may consider opening an office in Pakistan. Khusnood denied if Google was opening its first office in the country anytime soon but added it couldn’t be ruled out. Google’s representatives attributed Pakistan’s growing importance to multiple factors.

“To enter a market, the first thing we look at is its demographics – number of internet users in that country,” Jana Levene said, explaining why Google is interested in Pakistan. “Twenty-two million internet users is a huge number. It’s more than Australia’s whole population. That’s why we are here,” she said.

The second thing Google is interested in, Levene said, is the size of the market. “Pakistan is a $400 to $500 million market for Google,” she said. Currently, four of the top 10 most popular websites in Pakistan are Google’s sites.
---------
But the key takeaway from the event was not the information, but the fact that it was addressed by six senior Google executives, a strong indication that the technology giant wants to expand further in the Pakistani market.

“We are calling you to help us bring more Pakistanis online,” Jana Levene said addressing country’s leadership as well as the technology sector. “Tell the world Pakistan is economically viable. It’s a safe place to do business,” Levene said.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/434461/up-and-coming-google-pakistan-earns-500-million-in-revenue/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Nation report on PTCL's Wi-Fi enabled USB:

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Telecommunications Company Limited (PTCL) has introduced Pakistan’s First Wi-Fi enabled USB ‘3G EVO Wingle’ that connects multiple Wi-Fi enabled devices simultaneously at hyper speeds of up to 9.3 Mbps, says a Press release.

PTCL 3G EVO Wingle is a perfect work and travel companion providing a powerful Wi-Fi experience on the go, connecting 5 Wi-Fi enabled devices to PTCL’s revolutionary 3G EVO Wireless Broadband. The tremendous ease and comfort of 3G EVO Wingle with its state of the art Wi-Fi capability and fast internet browsing brings an unparalleled experience for PTCL customers.

“3G EVO Wingle will revolutionize the way people connect and surf on the go”, said Senior Executive Vice President (SEVP) Commercial, Naveed Saeed. “Being the largest telecommunication company in Pakistan PTCL has always been the trendsetter for other companies”.

3G EVO Wingle launch comes with a special bundle offer of 3 months unlimited internet and free Wingle device for just Rs 7,500. PTCL also offers customers the flexibility to opt for various post and prepaid packages based on their needs and requirement and access to broadband internet anywhere anytime.

“We are constantly bringing products that provide maximum utility to our customers” said Executive Vice President (EVP) Wireless, Omer Khalid. “PTCL has specially taken this initiative so that our valued customers can work play and surf on the go”.

PTCL 3G EVO Wingle provide customers seamless roaming experience at speeds up to 9.3 Mbps in over 200 cities, with auto switch over to 3.1 Mbps speeds in over 250 cities. The devices come with secure password protection to ensure optimal connection security.


http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/business/20-Oct-2012/ptcl-launches-first-wi-fi-enabled-usb

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Businessweek on PTCL profitability:

Pakistan Telecommunications Co. (PTC), the country’s biggest phone-service provider, forecast a return to profit by its fiscal fourth quarter as workers opting for early retirement cut labor costs.

“We will return to profitability after we absorb the cost of retiring employees,” Naveed Saeed, senior executive vice president for the Islamabad-based company’s commercial unit, said in an interview on Oct. 22. “Our revenue growth is strong and we are really trying to contain the costs.”

Pakistan Telecom has struggled to increase revenue from its fixed-line unit as mobile-phone operators including Telenor ASA (TEL) and China Mobile Ltd. (941) grab market share. The telecommunications market was deregulated in 2004, and the number of mobile-phone users jumped more than ninefold in the past seven years in the country of 180 million people.

Profitability for Pakistan Telecom was hurt in the first quarter as it absorbed the cost of a voluntary retirement progam that reduced its workforce by between 5,000 and 6,000 employees, Saeed said at the company’s headquarters. A similar program in 2008 saw 35,000 of 50,000 employees retire early.

Saeed forecast 7 percent sales growth for the current financial year, which ends in June. That’s higher than the 6.4 percent average annual revenue growth for Pakistan Telecom in the past five fiscal years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. About half of the company’s revenue goes to paying salaries for an estimated 25,000 permanent and contractual employees.
Stock Performance

Pakistan Telecom fell 3.3 percent to 18.57 rupees yesterday. That pared the stock’s gain this year to 79 percent, compared with an advance of about 40 percent for the Karachi Stock Exchange 100 Index.

Pakistan Telecom, controlled by Emirates Telecommunications Corp. (ETISALAT), posted a loss of 8.26 billion rupees ($86.4 million) in the three months through September, its first quarterly loss in more than four years. That compared with a profit of 2.23 billion rupees a year earlier.

Fixed-line users fell to 2.9 million last year from the peak of 5.2 million in Pakistan Telecom’s financial year that ended in June 2005, as more people switched to mobile phones.

The number of mobile-phone users in the country grew to 119.8 million as of May this year from 12.7 million in 2005, according to the Pakistan Telecom Authority.
‘Steady Growth’

“They will be back to profit by the end of this year,” said Ayub Ansari, a Karachi-based analyst at AKD Securities, in a telephone interview. “There has been a steady growth in their core businesses. The cellular segment continues to grow, plus the broadband segment is also very exciting. That’s the next big thing for Pakistan and PTCL in particular.”

Pakistan Telecom derives most of its sales from the broadband unit, which has more than 1 million customers and contributes about 25 percent to profit, Saeed said. Aqeel Shigri, a spokesman, said the unit has a market share of 90 percent.

The company, which also owns the country’s third-largest mobile-phone operator Ufone, plans to bid for 3G bandwidth licenses the government plans to auction this financial year, Saeed said.


http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-10-24/pakistan-telecom-sees-return-to-profit-as-workers-retire-early

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn report on Mobilink planned 3G upgrade:

Cairo-based Orascom Telecom (OT), controlled by Russia’s Vimpelcom, said on Sunday it had awarded a deal to upgrade its Mobilink mobile phone network in Pakistan.

It signed a five-year agreement with China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and France’s Alcatel-Lucent to design, purchase, deploy and maintain the next-generation mobile network equipment and supporting services, OT said in a statement.

OT said Mobilink expected the improved capabilities to allow the firm to boost network efficiency and reduce operating costs.

The upgrade would enable the firm to offer 3G services once such licences are issued in Pakistan, it said.


http://dawn.com/2012/11/11/orascom-to-upgrade-pakistans-mobilink-cellular-network-2/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's PakistanToday on ADB assistance for TeleTaleem online education:

ISLAMABAD - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide a technical assistance (TA) grant of US$ 1.1 million to Pakistan’s TeleTaleem (Pvt.) Limited to boost access to quality education and vocational training in Pakistan using Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).
“This project will open new vistas of online learning opportunities for students and teachers, currently without access to quality educational and training resources. With a click of a button, students will be able to avail quality educational services regardless of their geographic location. The project will hugely benefit students and teachers, particularly girls in remote parts of the country who seek access to good educational opportunities,” said Philip Erquiaga, Director General of ADB’s Private Sector Operations Department.
Leveraging Pakistan’s fast growing ICT sector, TeleTaleem will provide ICT-assisted advanced learning environment to service basic education and technical education and vocational training (TEVT) segments. The company plans to setup 500 learning centers/points-of-access over the next 5 years, reaching out to 100,000 students and 10,000 teachers across the country.
Werner E. Liepach, ADB’s Country Director for Pakistan, and Asad Karim, Chief Executive Officer of the TeleTaleem (Pvt.) Limited, today signed the TA implementation agreement. This is ADB’s first-ever private-sector led investment in an education project.
Pakistan has made impressive gains over the last decade with spectacular ICT growth through the use of mobile phones, Internet and personal computers in the urban, semi-urban and the rural areas.
TeleTaleem will be using this widespread ICT footprint to deliver exciting and engaging teaching-learning practices and content to students and teachers, with the objective of enhancing student achievement and teacher competency.
ADB’s TA grant will also study gaps, issues and opportunities to expand the use of ICT for education by defining appropriate strategies frameworks and financially self-sustaining development and marketing plans, to achieve large scale adaptation.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2011, ADB approvals including cofinancing totaled $21.7 billion.


http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2012/11/16/news/profit/1-1m-for-teletaleem/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET report on Mobilink plans for 3G roll-out in Pakistan:

KARACHI: With Islamabad still in the process of launching third generation (3G) cellular spectrum, Mobilink awarded a nationwide network expansion and modernisation project to Huawei and Alcatel-Lucent.

Orascom Telecom – the Egypt-based parent company of Mobilink – signed a five-year agreement with China’s Huawei and France’s Alcatel-Lucent to provide for the design, purchase, deployment, and maintenance of next-generation mobile network equipment and supporting services from two of the world’s leading telecom hardware providers; company’s website said on Sunday.

Huawei was awarded 50% of the radio network and 100% of the core and value-added services network, while Alcatel-Lucent was awarded the other 50% of the radio access network.

It is relevant to mention that Mobilink – Pakistan’s largest mobile phone operator – had raised Rs2 billion in secured loan through institutional investors, according to a notice sent to Karachi Stock Exchange in June, 2012. It, however, did not specify if this was meant for network expansion, 3G roll out or mobile banking.

The cellular giant was yet to make an official announcement about this agreement locally. The monetary value of the project was also not made public either by Orascom or Mobilink.

Mobilink refused to give any details, saying the development was not made public in Pakistan.

“Any cellular company that is seeking a long-term future in Pakistan has to invest in 3G,” Hussain Ali Talib, company’s manager of corporate communications said in a comment that he related to a press conference by CEO Rashid Khan in January, 2012. Khan had announced Mobilink’s participation in 3G bidding and their network expansion plans for 2012.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/464790/mobilink-to-get-network-upgrades-for-3g-rollout/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of Washington Times story on India's Akash Tablet PC:

..Dubbed the Aakash 2, the $25 computer was said to be the result of a project originally intended to bring Internet technology to some of the world’s poorest communities.

In front of television cameras, a bright-eyed Mr. Ban held up the computer together with India’s U.N. Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri and Sureep Tuli, the CEO of Datawind, which claims to have manufactured the device.

Mr. Ban called India a “superpower on the information superhighway.”

“We need to do more to help all the children and young people make the most of the opportunities provided by information and communications technology,” he said.

However, the Indian press insists the computer is a sham.

Other than the name of the computer and the box it comes in, nothing else is of Indian origin, according to press reports from New Delhi.

The Hindustan Times reported that the computer is made in China, where it is known as the A-13 and sells in shops in Hong Kong and Shenzhen for $42.

Shenzhen is the unofficial capital for most of China’s computer manufacturing.

The $25 price the India’s U.N. mission proudly hyped resulted from a $17 government subsidy paid to school districts throughout India.

On its website, Datawind sells the computers for $80 a piece — a price that places the Aakash 2 in the middle range of similar products already on the market, according to Amazon.com.

Mr. Singh Puri, India’s U.N. ambassador, explained it was his idea to hold the news conference after he saw the computer during a brief visit to New Delhi earlier this year.

“I saw the Aakash 2 when I was in New Delhi and thought it would be appropriate to bring it to New York during the month when I was Security Council president,” he said, referring to India’s current role as presiding officer at the 15-member council.

Mr. Singh Puri, visibly upset, accused reporters of trying to embarrass India’s diplomatic mission with critical articles that appeared only days before he introduced the computer at the United Nations.
-----------
Datawind’s CEO Mr. Tuli told reporters that only a few parts of the computer were made in India but promised that “would change.”

“We used parts from many countries around the world, including China, but who doesn’t? In the future more parts will be made in India,” he said.

Indian reporters could not find that any of the computer’s parts made in India.

Lloyd Trufelman, a spokesman for Datawind, insisted that his company would “be eager” to provide computers for independent examination but has not said that would happen.

Ironically, cheaper Chinese computers with greater capabilities have been on sale in the United States for several months.

One company, Iview, made its cyberpad available to American consumers online this month for only $59 — without government subsidies.


http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/dec/16/india-defends-its-25-computer-with-china-parts/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Telecom report on growing base of broadband subscribers in Pakistan:

Pakistan ended October 2012 with 2.25 million broadband subscribers, up from 2.21 million in September, according to figures from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). Most subscribers used DSL to connect to the internet, with the numbers rising to 913,102 from 904,154 a month earlier. Furthermore, the number of EV-DO internet users grew to 700,214 from 666,886 in the prior month. However, the Wimax internet base fell to 587,967 from 591,680 in September and the number of HFC internet users slipped to 34,141 from 35,343. There were also 9,299 FTTH users in October, up from 8,971 a month earlier, and 3,069 broadband subscribers used other technologies.

http://www.telecompaper.com/news/pakistan-ends-october-with-225-mln-broadband-subs--920583

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET Op Ed on IT developments anticipated in 2012:

2013 will see the adoption of Cloud services continue to grow in Pakistan. Increasingly, customers – both individuals and companies – will seek to store their data ‘in the Cloud’ as opposed to physical data servers, as well as avail of software services on a ‘rental’ basis. Large MNCs, banks and other financial services companies have already moved into this domain some time ago. Looking forward, educational institutions are likely to take the next step, as digitisation of educational content takes place. Some progressive institutions have already adopted softwares such as Moodle and Learning Management Systems and incorporated their curriculum on them, thereby preparing their scholars for a digital future.
-------------
Pakistan has over 100 million cellular subscribers; reportedly, around 10% of these use smart phones. Data usage has grown substantially, and there are an estimated 10 million mobile data users in Pakistan. However, it is important to note that 3G has been overhyped and may actually fall short of expectations, as it has in India.

Almost a year into its launch in India, only 2% of subscribers have opted for 3G services. 3G will require ubiquitous coverage for consumers to be satisfied with the services. WiMAX can play an important role here by offering a solution for data backhauling for telecom operators. Wateen has already deployed around 250 WiFi hotspots in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, and is ideally positioned to fulfill the data needs for mobile operators.
---------------
Branchless banking and m-commerce services will be the biggest innovations for the year. New entrants (Zong and Askari Bank, and Mobilink and Waseela) have recently launched their offerings and promise to improve the take-up of this service. New payment solutions will also be a first in the country, as smart phones enable swipe magnetic card readers and pioneering companies such as Inov8 Ltd begin to deliver on their potential for the consumer market. Smart phone apps will also be big.
-----------
In Pakistan, some companies have already started bringing Android-based devices for as low as Rs5,000. Indians have recently announced that they will be developing the world’s cheapest tablet for $35. These devices will play an exceptional role in transforming societies. The consumerisation of IT has already started taking place in Pakistan. Companies like QMobile will play an important role in the proliferation of low-cost handheld devices. This, in turn, will impact the use of mobile internet and broadband, open WiFi and WiMAX, as well as Cloud services, as consumers look to access data and media on their handheld devices.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/499410/notes-from-the-world-of-it-2013--looking-ahead-into-the-year/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of an ET Op Ed on education in Pakistan:

.. Thomas L Friedman wrote in an article recently, “nothing has more potential to lift more people out of poverty — by providing them an affordable education to get a job or improve in the job they have. And nothing has more potential to enable us to reimage higher education than the massive open online course, MOOC, platforms that are being developed by the likes of Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and companies like Coursera and Udacity.” Within one year, the coverage provided by Coursera has increased from 300,000 students taking 38 courses taught by Stanford professors and a few other elite universities to 2.4 million taking 214 courses from 33 universities, including eight international ones.

There were reports that Pakistan was already one of the beneficiaries of the exponential development of the MOOC. A story on the 2013 Davos World Economic Forum singled out for special mention the presentation given by Khadija Niazi, a 12-year girl from Lahore, who may not have been the youngest speaker ever at the forum but was certainly captivating. According to this account, “hundreds of the conference’s well-healed attendees listened intently as Ms Niazi described her experience with massive online courses known as MOOC that are spreading around the globe … Her latest enthusiasm is for astrobiology because she is fascinated by UFOs and wants to become a physicist.”

According to another assessment, “enterprising academic institutions have taken the lead in online learning. Harvard and MIT, for instance, worked together to introduce EdX, which offers free online courses from each university. About 753,000 students have enrolled, with India, Brazil, Pakistan and Russia among the top 10 countries from which people are benefitting.” What seems to be happening is that while the government continues to neglect education, a variety of private initiatives are helping to fill some of the gaps that have been left.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/502152/education-problem-has-deep-roots/

Riaz Haq said...

I have been told there are ways to get around the YouTube ban in Pakistan by using proxies to access videos....that's how many MOOC students in Pakistan are taking courses at Udacity, Coursera, Khan Academy etc. have been able to continue taking classes.

They work by masking IP addresses.

Here's an example:

http://en.softonic.com/s/youtube-proxy-list

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Silicon Republic report on the future expansion of mobile telecom:

Emerging markets will be the key source of future mobile communications growth with 1.6bn new connections coming from around the world, out of which 61pc of these will come from Asia.

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said that bringing the next 1bn users online will be a major disruptive force for the industry. He unveiled the new Nokia 105 device, the first full colour device with internet and email connectivity that will cost less than US$15.

Elop said: “We believe that the next 1bn people are very young and very ambitious. For the very first time they are able to afford their own mobile phone, it is not a device they have to share with their family or the village. It’s their own.”

Manoj Kohli, the CEO of India-headquartered Bharti Airtel, the third largest mobile operator in the world with 261m subscribers in 20 countries, said that for every 10pc increase in broadband penetration in a developing country there is a 1pc increase in GDP.

He said there is a need for mobile devices that cost less than US$30 and mobile broadband dongles that cost less than US$10.

At the Mobile World Congress browser creator Mozilla revealed its Firefox OS that will be included on devices from LG, Huawei, Alcatel and ZTE to bring affordable smartphones into the hands of consumers in developing markets. Operators from America Movil, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Etilisat, Hutchison Three, KDDI, KT, MegaFon, Qtel, SingTel, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, Telenor, TMN and VimpelCom have undertaken to carry smartphone devices from the various mobile manufacturers who have committed to the new Firefox OS.

According to the GSMA, there are 3.4bn people on the planet today connected by mobile devices and this will grow to 3.9bn by 2017.

4G LTE will account for one in five connections in the world versus one out of every 25 in 2012.

The GSMA estimates that the industry is expected to spend US$1.1trn on capex in the next five years and will add 1.3m jobs around the world. The mobile industry’s contribution to global GDP between 2013 and 2017 as a result of its investment is expected to add up to US$10.5trn
----------
“Ovum forecasts that emerging markets will be the key source of future mobile connections growth, particularly in Africa and Asia-Pacific. Between 2012 and 2017, Ovum expects that there will be 1.6bn new mobile connections across the world, with 61pc of these coming from Asia-Pacific.

“While connections growth in Asia-Pacific will begin to slow towards the end of our forecast period, the region’s 4.4bn connections in 2017 will make it the greatest contributor to global connections. Growth in the Asia-Pacific region will largely be driven by the big three emerging markets of China, India, and Indonesia, which will have 3bn connections between them in 2017.

“While Asia-Pacific will generate the most new connections, Africa will be the fastest-growing region. African mobile connections will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.5pc between 2012 and 2017, increasing from 683m in 2012 to 935m in 2017.

“While connections growth is important, the biggest issue for emerging market operators will continue to be around revenue growth and how to remain profitable with a customer base of low-ARPU users.

“Both Nokia and Airtel’s CEOs talked about the need for cheaper devices. The strategies of operators in Vietnam, India, Pakistan, and Tanzania demonstrate how telcos can operate in markets where ARPU is below US$3 per month.

“While the correlation between high ARPU and profitability is not absolute, operators still need to take action to improve the amount of revenue that they make from each connection. This is of paramount importance to operators in markets where ARPU will be less than US$5 per month in 2017,” Pawsey said.


http://www.siliconrepublic.com/comms/item/31667-next-1bn-users-central-to/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Financial Post story on $100m deal for satellite Internet access in Pakistan:

With the launch of the first four satellites in [external] O3b Networks’ satellite fleet only 78 days away, O3b announced today a strategic agreement with Pakistan’s largest ICT company Interactive Esolutions. Using multiple O3b beams to provide coverage of the entire country, Interactive will be providing a full suite of services in Pakistan, including trunking services to underserved regions, cellular backhaul for mobile operators and enterprise and e-government services across the country.

O3b Networks will deliver fiber-like speed at sub 150 millisecond latency and affordable prices, opening the door to new applications and growth opportunities for customers in Pakistan.

Mr. Shahid Mahmud, Chairman/CEO Interactive Group said, “We are extremely excited about this agreement as we strongly believe that the Pakistani market offers immense appetite for bandwidth and data. Our customer base varies from Telecom operators to large and small enterprise across the country. We anticipate great demand in the Oil & Gas sector, Health, Education, Shipping and Government sectors. We are happy that Interactive will be contributing to the growth of broadband through this state of the art technology. We firmly believe that together we will usher in a new era of Internet usage proliferating the positive effects of connectivity amongst the people of Pakistan.”

“We are honored to support Interactive Group in continuing their history of technical innovation and service to Pakistan,” said Steve Collar, CEO of O3b Networks. “Pakistan, with its burgeoning population and growing economy is in desperate need for state of the art communications infrastructure. By overcoming the geographical hurdles presented by mountainous terrain, working together with Interactive we can ensure that broadband connectivity is available across the entire country.”

O3b’s unique eight satellite, Medium-Earth-Orbit fleet enables affordable, high-speed connectivity in places where traditional satellite and fiber offerings are unavailable or extremely costly.


http://www.financialpost.com/m/markets/news/Networks+Interactive+Solutions+100m+Deal+Revolutionize+Broadband/8087280/story.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report on PTCL's new EVO Tab:

Pakistan Telecommunication Company (PTCL) has launched an enhanced version of its Evo Tab tablet. The 7-inch new tablet is powered by a 1.2 GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor and runs on Android 4.0, Pro Pakistani writes. The tablet connects via EV-DO or Wi-Fi technology and can also create a Wi-Fi hotspot for other devices. The Evo Tab also comes with a 5-megapixel camera and 4 GB of memory which can be expanded with microSD cards up to 32 GB. PTC offers the Evo Tab with three months of unlimited internet at PKR 18,000.

http://www.telecompaper.com/news/ptcl-launches-fresh-evo-tab--938973

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET story on Norway's Telenor's 3G plans in Pakistan:

If the government is able to strike the right balance between upfront 3G licence fees and the industry’s capacity to invest in infrastructure, Pakistan is looking at potential investment of $5-10 billion over the next five to eight years from the five players already operating in the country.
These are the words of Jon Fredrik Baksaas, CEO of the Telenor Group. He also added that his company was looking at a potential investment of anywhere up to $1 billion over the next two to three years in Pakistan, including the upfront 3G licence fees. “Telenor is already in the process of a network swap in Pakistan. We are upgrading our base stations, which will then be ready to receive 3G equipment. We are about 50% done and should be finished by the end of this calendar year,” he said.
Baksaas was speaking to a group of telecom journalists from Pakistan at the headquarters of the Telenor Group in Oslo. Contrary to common belief, he insisted that Pakistan was not really late in upgrading to 3G. “Pakistan is not necessarily late on 3G, but it is about time to get it done.”
He believes that the Pakistani market is now mature enough, with enough mobile penetration, for the demand for 3G to be building up to a healthy level. “On paper, there is about 70% mobile penetration in Pakistan, but probably a bit less in reality, since many people have more than one SIM,” he observed.
This indicates that there is a lot of pent-up demand, which means better-than-average growth rates in the initial years of 3G, as was the case in Thailand when it finally jumped on the 3G bandwagon.
He also hoped that now that Pakistan was finally gearing up, it would be smarter than India in launching 3G. “When India had their 3G auctions, the government was too concerned with how much money they could pocket upfront and did not focus on how much financial resources to leave behind in the industry for the infrastructure to be built up. My advice to the Government of Pakistan would be to think of the balance of upfront auction fees against the ability of the companies to build quality networks in the country.”
Baksaas said this would be great for the country. “Through investment, you create profitable companies which create employment and can then be taxed. I believe that if you can raise internet penetration in a country by 10%, you can raise the GDP by about 1.5 basis points.”
He also felt that a countrywide rollout of 3G, and subsequently 4G, was very important, instead of just in major cities. “The benefits of 3G to the countryside of Pakistan will be relatively higher than 3G in the city, when you think of the daily lives of individuals and services like health, education, financial services, etc.”
He, however, did not feel that new players would be able to capitalise on the opportunity for 3G. “It has been proven difficult for newcomers to get into 3G or 4G if they don’t already have an existing network. We believe telecom is an evolution that starts with voice and sms.” When asked about Telenor’s readiness, he had just this to say: “We are ready and we are willing and we have the capacities and the competencies to build 3G in Pakistan.”
Baksaas was, however, concerned with regular cellular shutdowns in the country, as he felt that this was not a practical or efficient solution and perhaps needed to be better thought out.
------
He insisted that so far growth and penetration in Pakistan has been much better than regional peers like India, because of the way the local industry is structured and regulated. In India, he said, the focus is on intense competition in the cities alone, because of which rural areas are still not covered. In Pakistan, geographical coverage is excellent in comparison.
..



http://tribune.com.pk/story/567313/high-growth-market-telenor-upbeat-on-pakistan-as-focus-shifts-from-voice-to-data/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Pew survey on the use of cell phones to access the Internet:

Six in ten cell phone owners (63%) now go online using their mobile phones, an eight-point increase from the 55% of cell owners who did so at a similar point in 2012 and a two-fold increase over the 31% who did so in 2009. We call these individuals “cell internet users,” and they include anyone who:

Uses the internet on their cell phone (60% of cell owners do this), or
Uses email on their cell phone (52% of cell owners do this)
Taken together, 63% of cell owners do one or both of these things, and are classified as cell internet users. Since 91% of Americans are cell phone owners, this means that 57% of all Americans now go online using a mobile phone. The steady increase in cell phone internet usage follows a similar growth trajectory for smartphone ownership. Over half of all adults (56%) now own a smartphone, and 93% of these smartphone owners use their phone to go online.

The demographics of cell phone internet usage
Just as the overall increase in cell phone internet usage has coincided with the growth in smartphone adoption, the demographic groups most likely to go online using their phones tend to match those with high levels of smartphone ownership. In particular, the following groups have high levels of cell phone internet use:

Young adults: Cell owners ages 18-29 are the most likely of any demographic group to use their phone to go online: 85% of them do so, compared with 73% of cell owners ages 30-49, and 51% of those ages 50-64. Just 22% of cell owners ages 65 and older go online from their phones, making seniors the least likely demographic group to go online from a cell phone.
Non-whites: Three-quarters (74%) of African-American cell phone owners are cell internet users, as are 68% of Hispanic cell owners.
The college-educated: Three-quarters (74%) of cell owners with a college degree or higher are cell internet users, along with two-thirds (67%) of those who have attended (but not graduated) college.
The financially well-off: Cell phone owners living in households with an annual income of $75,000 or more per year are significantly more likely than those in every other income category to go online using their phones. Some 79% of these affluent cell owners do so.
Urban and suburban residents: Urban and suburban cell owners are significantly more likely to be cell internet users than those living in rural areas. Some 66% of urbanites and 65% of suburban-dwellers do so, compared to half of rural residents....


http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Cell-Internet/Main-Findings/Cell-Internet.aspx

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...

Here's Bloomberg on 3G-4G auction in Pakistan:

Pakistan plans to auction licenses by March to run third- and fourth-generation mobile-phone networks, with both existing and new operators eligible to bid, the country’s telecommucations regulator chief said.
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has hired Value Partners Management Consulting to advise on the sale, including the base price and number of licenses to be auctioned for a 15-year term, Chairman Syed Ismail Shah said in an interview in Islamabad yesterday.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government expects to fetch between $1.2 billion to $2 billion as a result of the spectrum auction, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar told reporters Dec. 11.
“The licenses will be technology neutral and will be offered through an open bidding,” Shah said. “It will not only be for 3G, they can introduce any other advance technology including 4G.”
The telecommunications market was deregulated in 2004, and the number of mobile-phone users in the South Asian nation grew to 129.58 million as of September this year from 12.7 million in 2005, according to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.
The regulator plans to auction 30 megahertz of spectrum to new as well as existing operators that include Pakistan Mobile Communications Ltd.’s Mobilink, Telenor ASA’s local subsidiary, Warid Telecom of Abu-Dhabi group, the Pakistan unit of China Mobile Ltd. and Ufone of Pakistan Telecommunication, part-owned by Emirates Telecommunications Corp.
The government hasn’t specified how to divide the available spectrum. “It could be three lots of 10 megahertz each or there can be several combinations,” Shah said.
The regulator has yet to decide whether to leave it to the market to determine the tariff or if any regulatory intervention was needed. “We don’t want a price war because it compromises quality of services as well as profitability of companies.”


http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2013-12-20/pakistan-to-auction-licenses-for-3g-4g-mobile-services-by-march.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's PakistanToday on Mobilink's 3G rollout plans:

Mobilink has announced that it will complete the roll out Pakistan’s most modernized and largest 3G ready network with more than 9000 cell sites across the country by July 2014. The network modernization is in line with Mobilink’s strategy to provide its customers with best voice quality and fastest data speeds. The initiative was enabled by VimpelCom with investments made on various fronts including network modernization taking its total investment in Pakistan to USD 4.3 billion – the highest in Pakistan’s telecom industry. In order to celebrate this achievement, Mobilink launched a major communication drive across mainstream TV, radio, print and social media to emphasize the company’s bigger, better and faster network supremacy so that their customers never miss a moment. Speaking about Mobilink’s roll-out of Pakistan’s most modern network, Bilal Munir Sheikh, Chief Commercial Officer, Mobilink said, “Mobilink’s 3G ready network established over Pakistan’s largest cellular footprint sets us apart from our competitors as more than 37 million Pakistanis trust us with their communication needs. I am confident that our improved network will go a long way in providing the best customer experience with seamless connectivity over the most robust and technologically most advanced network of Pakistan.”

http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2014/03/20/business/mobilink-rolls-out-pakistans-largest-3g-ready-network/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune story on the economic impact of 3G service in Pakistan:

One of the biggest questions asked when the arrival of 3G services is discussed is its benefit to the public purse.
While there is no official study available that could provide a credible assessment of the impact on economic growth and subsequent contribution in tax revenues, there is a report that gives a snapshot of the next five years. The study, conducted by UK’s Plum Consulting, has its limitations but gives an overview of what is to come.

Plum Consulting is a specialised consulting firm offering strategy, policy and regulatory advice on telecoms, online and spectrum issues. It conducted the study last year but did not factor in fourth generation spectrum in its calculations.
What we know from Plum Consulting is that the overall size of the economy will grow by Rs380 billion to Rs1.18 trillion in the period up to 2020 after the roll out of 3G spectrums. The present size of Pakistan’s economy is estimated at Rs26 trillion and a minimum addition of Rs380 billion means a positive impact of 1.5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority Chairman Dr Ismail Shah said that the Plum study does give a broader trend. He said the rolling out of 4G spectrum will add another 20% in the GDP value assessed by Plum Consulting.
Plum Consulting says that economic studies have shown that there is a positive relationship between broadband penetration and GDP growth in both high and low income countries. Estimates of the impact of a 10 percentage point increase in broadband penetration on GDP growth rates range from 0.1% to 1.5%, with higher impacts found in lower income countries.
It added that the net present value of additional GDP over the period to 2020 is Rs1.18 trillion in the High Demand scenario and Rs490 billion in the Low Demand scenario. This is equivalent to an average 0.13 percentage points increase in the annual GDP growth rate over this period.
Plum Consulting observed that additional GDP could yield additional tax revenue for the government in the range of Rs23 billion to Rs70bn. It further said that in a high-penetration scenario, it could generate up to around 900,000 jobs by 2018, if spectrum had been released in 2013.
“As broadband is a general purpose technology it has the potential to bring significant benefits across the whole economy, and so we expect the release of spectrum for mobile broadband to have a positive impact on employment across agriculture, industry and services sectors”....


http://tribune.com.pk/story/686266/launching-3g-services-public-purse-to-become-heavier/

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

Riaz Haq said...

There has been no official announcement yet about which carriers have won the 3G license or even which carriers were taking part in the “transparent” bidding process. Last week officials said they were hoping that international bidders would take part in the process.

After last week’s report that Pakistan would be handing out 3G licenses, it looks like those licenses are already being used, at least by Telenor. We’ve viewed a number of tweets from users in Pakistan who say they are testing 3G service.

However, with no official announcement about who the bidders were or what the process was like, it is certainly a surprise that Telenor suddenly has 3G on its network, particularly since executives from Mobilink and Vimpelcom were part of the delegation from the telecom industry which met with government officials. http://www.valuewalk.com/2014/04/pakistan-launches-3g-on-telenor/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune report on E-Commerce in Pakistan:

Pakistan is one of the fastest emerging e-commerce markets in the region.
The level of trust global online groups are showing in the talents of the Pakistani youth and the e-commerce industry here suggests that, in the near future, it is likely to hold a significant share in Pakistan’s economy.
Kaymu.pk, a venture of Rocket Internet, a German based internet incubator operating in Pakistan, has built a reputation in the eyes of the decision makers of its parent company within just 15 months since it began operations.
The team, which is successfully operating kaymu.pk, has been given a task to launch the same portal in 26 other countries of Europe and the Asian region.
“The level of trust by the parent company shows huge potential and bright future for the e-commerce industry in Pakistan,” said Managing Director Asian Region Kaymu.pk Ahmed Khan in an interview with The Express Tribune.
“Pakistan e-commerce industry has just started its journey and the youth is driving this sector,” he added.
Kaymu.pk launched in Pakistan in January 2013 and is known as one of the best online platforms with 600 retailers offering their products to online shoppers. Khan believes that they still have a long journey and a big market to cover.
The portal is maturing some 1,000 transactions daily with an average turnover of Rs1.2 million per day. According to Khan, around 40% of the total transactions are of the apparel and jewelry segments. Due to suspicion and other issues with using plastic for payments, more than 99% of transactions are cash-based.
Khan said that the online transaction ratio will surge once the use of plastic money becomes common and the number of smartphone users also increase with the introduction of 3G and 4G services.
The exercise for online shopping via different portals for convenient shopping is increasing with each passing day. E-commerce is now spreading and is creating its share in the overall retail segment, with small, medium and large-scale retailers becoming eager to sell their products via such portals.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/694838/expansion-e-commerce-future-bright-in-pakistan/

http://www.kaymu.com/

http://www.rocket-internet.de/about-us

Riaz Haq said...

Spectrum for 3G 4G auction today in Pakistan, reports The Nation:

The mobile operators are going to submit their sealed bids on Monday (today) for the next generation spectrum auction that offers 3G and 4G licences simultaneously.
Presently there are 6 blocks available with PTA to be auctioned and there are five players in the market. One block is reserved only for the new entrant and no one from the existing telecom company can bid for that but the new entrants can bid for the reserved block and for the other 5 blocks too. Sources in the telecom sector say that the government will not be able to obtain $2 billion that it is aiming and the maximum gains it can get will stand at $1.4 billion with minor up and down.
There is 30 MHz available in 2100 MHz band for 3G, 20 MHz available in 1800 band for 4G services and 7.38 MHz available in 850 MHz band for 2G service and the last one is reserved for new entrant. All the players are bound to bid for the first mentioned 2100 MHz band to qualify for the bid of 1800 MHz band that offers 4G services.
Sources told The Nation that in 2100 MHz band, a bidder can bid for at least 5 MHz and in 1800 MHz band they can bid for at least 10 MHz. The base price set for the 2100 MHz band is $29.5/MHz and it is $21/MHz for the later.
Presently there are 5 companies operating in the market and among them Warid Telecom seems not interested in bidding for the next generation spectrum auction. Most probably the remaining 4 will take part in the auction and all of them might be successful in obtaining licence for the next generation mobile services but only two will be able to get 4th generation licence.
The bids submitted today will decide, whether the next stage of auction will be held or the licences will be allotted to the bidders. The sources said that if the number of applicants exceed the number of licences available that technically are 4 then the next round of auction will start on April 23 and the bidders will have to compete to obtain a licence.
But the sources said that apparently there is no hope that the number of applicants will exceed so today might be considered the last day of auction and Pakistan Telecom Authority will decide, who to allot a licence for what.
The sources said that most probably the licences will be auctioned at the base price and the government might not meet its expectations to earn much from this auction, not at least $2 billion that it was aiming to obtain from it.
The major reason is that the licence reserved for the new entrant fall in the category of 2G technology and no company seems interested to buy a 2nd generation licence while others players in the market having 3G or 4G licences. The sources said that government claimed Turk Cell was taking interest for the spectrum reserved for new entrant but there is no evidence yet that it will submit a bid for that.


http://www.nation.com.pk/business/14-Apr-2014/bids-for-3g-4g-licences-auction-today

Anonymous said...

A dismal response in this week's auction for next-generation cellphone spectrum licences means cash-strapped Pakistan will struggle to fund its budget this year, finance and IT ministry officials and telecom industry executives told Reuters.

Pakistan is set to hold long-awaited auctions for 3G and 4G network licences on April 23, a step the government projects will raise $2 billion to boost the country's foreign reserves.

But officials say there has been scant interest in Monday's bidding process and estimate Pakistan will raise no more than $850 million.

"The finance minister (Ishaq Dar) is very angry, so much so that he wants to call off the auction if we are so embarrassingly off target," said an official on his team, who declined to be identified as he is not authorised to speak officially on the matter.

"This has happened because of an over enthusiastic IT ministry which oversold an undercooked plan to its fiscal managers. It looks like heads may roll on this one."

Pakistan is the only major country in the region that still does not offer 3G services. Its neighbour, war-ravaged Afghanistan, switched to 3G services in 2012.

There are about 132 million mobile phones in use in Pakistan, a country of 180 million people, according to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.

Pakistan's telecommunications market was deregulated in 2004 and foreign firms such as Etisalat have invested heavily in recent years.

The finance ministry said in February that Pakistan would sell both the 3G and the more advanced 4G LTE spectrum. Selling just 3G licences could raise $2 billion, and bundling them with 4G spectrum could generate between $4 billion and $5 billion, finance minister Ishaq Dar had estimated.

The 3G spectrum auction was expected to raise Pakistan's gross domestic product by $8 billion and indirectly create up to 900,000 new jobs, a government-commissioned study by Plum Consulting said.

But when bidding closed at 4 pm on Monday, only four out of five cellular mobile companies operating in Pakistan had submitted bids and no new companies showed interest, sources privy to the bidding told Reuters.

Telecom companies Mobilink and Zong bid for 10 MHz. Telenor and Ufone both bid for 5 MHz.

Warid Telecom Pakistan, owned by the privately-held conglomerate Abu Dhabi Group, did not submit a bid, said a source in the company. Neither did Turkcell and Saudi Telecom Company, two foreign companies who had earlier shown interest.

"There are four available 3G blocks in 1800 MHz: two 10 MHz and two 5 MHz. The base price for 10 MHz block is $291 Million and 5 MHz is $146 million," said a finance ministry official present at Monday's bidding.

"The auction is thus expected to go for $863 million, nowhere close to $2 billion."

Bids for 4G LTE licences were to start at $210 million. No operator has shown any interest.

"It looks like 4G won't fetch any money," the finance ministry source said. "The disappointing bids are deepening the budget hole by almost $1.7 billion and are such a big hit the finance minister is ready to postpone the whole auction process."

Spokesmen in the finance ministry, the IT ministry and telecom companies taking part in the bid said they were not authorised to officially comment on the issue.

The disappointing response will pile further pressure on embattled Information Technology Minister Anusha Rahman, who is overseeing the auction.

She drew criticism last month after appointing her husband to the Board of Directors at Ufone, one of the companies bidding for licences and partly owned by the government. He later resigned.

http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSL3N0N72G620140415

Riaz Haq said...

Couple of reports on 3G in Pakistan:

1. From Newsweek Pakistan

The first stage of Pakistan’s 3G-spectrum sale process on April 14 exceeded projections of the federal government by $100 million, a source in the Ministry of IT told Newsweek on Wednesday.

Four telecom operators put in base-price bids totaling $1.3 billion. The federal government had estimated receipts of $1.2 billion from the spectrum sale during the current fiscal year. The companies have already deposited $200 million as earnest money with the government.

“Since demand is higher than supply, we will proceed to Stage Two on April 23,” said the Ministry source, asking not to be identified by name. “The $1.3 billion is now locked in. The second stage, when the auction happens, will allow the government to build on this further.”

The source declined to offer any estimate for the final figure from the spectrum sale.

The four bidders will be required to pay 50 percent of their final offer upfront to receive a license from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority. They will have the option to pay the remainder over five years. To encourage timely payments, the Ministry has made bidders accept a late-payment penalty of 3 percent plus LIBOR per year.


http://newsweekpakistan.com/3g-spectrum-sale-exceeds-target/

2. From TechinAsia:

Pakistan has a vibrant mobile market with five operators providing 2G services to a total of 133.7 million subscribers. Those customers are worth $2.25 each per month to the telcos in terms of ARPU. Mobile subscriber numbers have grown rapidly in the country, up 4.7 percent between June 2013 and January this year. ...
A report by Plum Consulting (PDF link) predicts that with the deployment of 3G in Pakistan, the number of broadband subscribers will rise from its current 3.35 million to 45 million by 2020 in the more optimistic high-demand forecast, or to 25 million in the low-demand forecast (see chart below). Pricing will play a pivotal role in terms of adoption, as currently users are able to get unlimited access to 2G data services for about PKR 150 ($1.50) per month for 1GB of data....

Four of the five Pakistani operators have bid for the new licenses. Warid, the nation’s smallest telco, has decided to opt out. The two biggest operators, Telenor and Mobilink, have stated that they would be able to deploy 3G services to the masses within a few weeks as their core infrastructure is ready for 3G. Telenor has 7,500 cell sites across Pakistan that are 3G-ready, and the firm’s CTO has stated that 4G can be deployed after some minor upgrades. Mobilink has said that it will have 9,000 cell sites by July, with 70 percent of the infrastructure already revamped for 3G. The local mobile market is expecting strong smartphone sales in the weeks proceeding the 3G and 4G auction. Currently the smartphone market accounts for 15 percent of all mobile imports (1.5 to 1.7 million units per month), but it is expected to rise to as much as 40 percent within a year of the auction – that’s 600,000 new smartphones per month. Some smartphone owners in Pakistan are excitedly awaiting the auction and have started posting speed test screenshots on Facebook or Twitter as operators test their networks in limited areas.


Read more: As Pakistan prepares 3G and 4G roll-out, country expects up to 45 million high-speed data subscribers by 2020 http://www.techinasia.com/3g-auction-pakistan-grow-broadband-subscribers-45-million/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Reuters on first round of 3G 4G auction in Pakistan:

Pakistan raised $903 million in its first auction for 3G mobile phone networks on Wednesday, as well as $210 million for the more advanced 4G spectrum, with four foreign-owned companies emerging as winners from the long-anticipated bidding process.

The South Asian country of 180 million people hopes to use the auction as a way to boost the economy and promote advanced telecoms technology among its 132 million mobile phone users.

The four winners of the 3G auction were Russian-owned Mobilink, Chinese-controlled Zong, Norway's Telenor (TEL.OL), and Ufone - a company jointly owned by the Pakistan government and the United Arab Emirates' Etisalat (ETEL.AD).

As for the 4G spectrum, the sole winner was Zong, according to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

Warid Telecom Pakistan, another company operating in Pakistan, did not make any bids.

Ismail Shah, the PTA head, announced the results to reporters late on Wednesday after the auction, which lasted all day.

Pakistan is the only major country in the region that still does not offer 3G services. Its neighbor, war-ravaged Afghanistan, switched to 3G services in 2012.

The country's telecoms market was deregulated in 2004 and foreign firms such as Etisalat have invested heavily. But services that use 3G and 4G connections have been out of reach of most Pakistani customers.


http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/04/23/us-pakistan-telecommunications-auction-idUKBREA3M1DS20140423