Military-run Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) at Kamra has launched manufacturing of Android tablets, Android eBook readers and Windows/Linux notebook computers.
All three products are being offered by Commercial Products Manufacturing Cell (CPMC), a join venture of Pakistan Aeronautical Complex Kamra (PAC) and Hong Kong-based INNAVTEK. Initial prices range from Rs. 8,000 for PAC eBook reader tablet, to Rs. 15,000 for PAC PAD 1 tablet computer and Rs. 23,500 for PAC nBook notebook.
PAC PAD is the first to be manufactured in Pakistan, but not the first tablet offered for sale in Pakistan. Last year, PTCL also launched an Android based thin 7 inch 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.
PAC's PAD is being built at Kamra complex that has set up advanced electronics manufacturing facilities used for building avionics for Pakistan's JF-17 fighter. A PAC press release issued at the launch of the project said that “for the joint production of JF-17, PAF [Pakistan Air Force] had established sufficient facilities which are appropriate for the production of both defence and commercial products.” CPMC website explains that “Innavtek jointly developed two products with (PAC's) Avionics Production Factory which are successfully flying on fleet of our JF-17 aircraft and three more products are under co development phase.”
History tells us that the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) has played a huge role in China's phenomenal industrial progress and its emergence as the factory of the world in the last few decades. Even in the free-market capitalist system of the United States, great inventions like semiconductor chips, computers the Internet have their origins in the defense establishment. The US military has played a key role in funding research, development and manufacturing industries to support America's military-industrial complex and its space program. In spite of some of the well-deserved criticisms of the the world's biggest military-industrial and space complex in America, no one can deny that a lot of innovation, jobs growth and economic expansion has flowed from it to benefit the American society at large.
The latest PAC-Kamra venture is a good example of how military projects can help spawn commercial industries in Pakistan, essentially replicating the American and the Chinese industrial experience.
With experience and economies of scale, PAC computer products are likely to follow the traditional cost curve of electronics products and become more powerful and affordable for larger numbers of Pakistani customers. Growing domestic market for computers should also attract private investment in the sector and stimulate the national economy by creating more skilled jobs, and help boost human development and productivity.
PAC computer products have the potential to 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.
PAC products can be expected to contribute to the ongoing information revolution in Pakistan by making information and education more accessible to a larger cross-section of Pakistani society. Such a revolution is essential for Pakistan to rapidly move into the 21st century, and reap full demographic dividend of its youthful population which is naturally attracted to modern gadgetry of computing and communications.
I applaud Pakistan's military for taking a page from the Chinese PLA playbook. As the only robust and well-functioning institution of Pakistani state, the military should do whatever is necessary to strengthen the nation's industry, economy, human capital and national security, regardless of any critics, including Ayesha Siddiqa Agha and her myriad fans. This is the best way forward to a well-educated, industrialized, prosperous and democratic Pakistan in the future.
Military's Role in Pakistan's Industrialization
Pakistan's Demographic Dividend
Pakistan's Defense Industry Goes High-Tech
Pakistan Launches UAV Production Line at Kamra
Pakistan Going Mainstream in IT Products
Pakistan Launches 100 Mbps FTTH Access
Pakistan's $2.8 Billion IT Industry
Pakistan's Software Prodigy
Is it manufacturing or assembling?
Remember you use to 'manufacture' Japanese cars in 1980s when India was making crap cars. You are still 'manufacturing' them which no one else buys, where as Indian manufacturers for Japanese companies now export to asia and europe. We also have huge auto part industry doing the same.
For the boeing dreamliner HCL Technologies is writing software whereas TAL is providing floor beams. Anything Pakistan provides for Dreamliner. May be few copies of quran for reading pleasure of muslim travelers.
Anon: "Is it manufacturing or assembling?"
Do you have any clue that most engineered products manufactured anywhere these days rely on a global supply chain?
Since you ask this question, let me help you understand a little bit about the overhyped "Made in India" Akash tablet. 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.
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
Anon: "We also have huge auto part industry doing the same."
So does Pakistan. No only does Pakistan have the world's largest fleet of CNG vehicles, it also exports a large number of CNG kits.
Here's an excerpt from last year's report in The Nation newspaper:
"The auto sector is fully committed to localization process and has already developed 60 vendors and has arranged 34 technical assistance agreements for transfer of technology. In this regard, the IMC has invested Rs13 billion in development of internal infrastructure which includes Press Shop, Engine Shop and Paint Shop.
The OEMs have invested over Rs75 billion in local auto industry and it contributes more than 5 percent annually towards the national exchequer. Moreover OEMs and auto parts manufacturers employ around 200,000 people and supports employment of over 1,392,000 persons throughout its supply chain of vendors, suppliers and dealers."
Anon: "For the boeing dreamliner HCL Technologies is writing software whereas TAL is providing floor beams. Anything Pakistan provides for Dreamliner. "
In addition to building and exporting Mushshak and Super Mushshak aircraft for decades, Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) also builds JF-17 fighter jets for PAF, and supplies some aircraft parts to Boeing as well.
it peripherals like tablets etc become obsolete in a year I am not sure the military has the flexibility to address this!
This PAC-PAD 1 is not comparable to the Aakash tablet because Aakash costs $35 whereas PAC pad costs $315.Even reliance 3G tab is much cheaper and better than PAC.This PAC-PAD is not subsidised by the pakistani government and is available for wholesale which,obviousy the poor can't buy.So it basically serves for only commercial purpose and i dont see the reason why you are "applauding" the military for this.How will this help pakistan to reap its full demographic dividend when most of pakistanis can't even buy this PAC-PAD?
Ashwin: "This PAC-PAD 1 is not comparable to the Aakash tablet because Aakash costs $35 whereas PAC pad costs $315."
You are right. PAC PAD 1 is much better than Akash in terms of its fuller configuration and robust resources. As to the price, Akash's actual cost is $80 vs PAC PAD 1's $160. And I'm glad the govt is not subsidizing it, giving other tablets to compete with it and help lower cost and increase performance over time. It should follow the historic cost-perfornance curve for electronics products and become more affordable over4 time.
Ashwin: " i dont see the reason why you are "applauding" the military for this.How will this help pakistan to reap its full demographic dividend when most of pakistanis can't even buy this PAC-PAD?"
The military deserves credit for starting manfucturing now and show the way for others to join the fray as the market develops, cost comes down and demand grows over time to put it within reach of more and more people....just as the mobile phones did.
"And I'm glad the govt is not subsidizing it, giving other tablets to compete with it and help lower cost and increase performance over time. It should follow the historic cost-perfornance curve for electronics products and become more affordable over4 time". The same applies to the Aakash tablet also.The upgraded version of Aakash is much better and costs just 2999 rupees. "The military deserves credit for starting manfucturing now and show the way for others to join the fray as the market develops, cost comes down and demand grows over time to put it within reach of more and more people....just as the mobile phones did." That's something which only time will tell.You cannot guarantee that it will happen.But the question is whether PAC-PAD help making information and education more accessible to a larger section of pakistani society? Given the hefty price tag(15000 for the tablet computer),I doubt it.
Ashwin: "But the question is whether PAC-PAD help making information and education more accessible to a larger section of pakistani society? Given the hefty price tag(15000 for the tablet computer),I doubt it."
The Indian tablet is not affordable to the vast majority of Indians either, 75% of whom (vs 60% Pakistanis) live on less than $2 a day.
However, the tablet PC is an electronics product similar to mobile phone, and I expect it to follow Moore's Law to become just as affordable for south Asians as mobile phones over time. It's just a matter of a few years.
"It's just a matter of a few years." Oh its great that the tablet pc revolution will finally happen in pakistan.It has already happened in india where there are dozens of tablets produced which are much cheaper and better than the PAC-PAD. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/itslideshow/9824816.cms
Ashwin: "Oh its great that the tablet pc revolution will finally happen in pakistan.It has already happened in india where there are dozens of tablets produced which are much cheaper and better than the PAC-PAD."
It's nationalistic nonsense to assert that Indian made tablets are better than PAC PAD or other tablets such as EVO TAB available in Pakistan. Nor is it a revolution until tablets become widely accessible and highly affordable like mobile phones.
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.
Here are excerpts of an AP report on PAC PAD1:
Inside a high-security air force complex that builds jet fighters and weapons systems, Pakistan's military is working on the latest addition to its sprawling commercial empire: a homegrown version of the iPad.
It's a venture that bundles together Pakistani engineering and Chinese hardware, and shines a light on the military's controversial foothold in the consumer market. Supporters say it will boost the economy as well as a troubled nation's self-esteem.
It all comes together at an air force base in Kamra in northern Pakistan, where avionics engineers — when they're not working on defense projects — assemble the PACPAD 1.
"The original is the iPad, the copy is the PACPAD," said Mohammad Imran, who stocks the product at his small computer and cell phone shop in a mall in Rawalpindi, a city not far from Kamra and the home of the Pakistani army.
The device runs on Android 2.3, an operating system made by Google and given away for free. At around $200, it's less than half the price of Apple or Samsung devices and cheaper than other low-end Chinese tablets on the market, with the bonus of a local, one-year guarantee.
The PAC in the name stands for the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, where it is made. The PAC also makes an e-reader and small laptop.
Such endeavors are still at the pilot stage and represent just a sliver of the military's business portfolio, which encompasses massive land holdings, flour and sugar mills, hotels, travel agents, even a brand of breakfast cereal.
PAC officials suggested the program that produces the PACPAD was modeled in part on the Chinese military's entry into commercial industry, which lasted two decades until it was ordered to cut back lest it become corrupted and lose sight of its core mission.
The tablet and other devices are made in a low-slung facility, daubed in camouflage paint, near, a factory that produces J-17 Thunder fighter jets with Chinese help.
"It's about using spare capacity. There are 24 hours in a day, do we waste them or use them to make something?" said Sohail Kalim, PAC's sales director. "The profits go to the welfare of the people here. There are lots of auditors. They don't let us do any hanky-panky here."
PAC builds the PACPAD with a company called Innavtek in a Hong Kong-registered partnership that also builds high-tech parts for the warplanes.
Maqsood Arshad, a retired air force officer who is one of the directors, couldn't say how much money had been invested, how many units the venture hoped to sell and what the profit from each sale was likely to be.
The market for low-cost Android tablets is expanding quickly around the world, with factories in China filling most of the demand. Last year, an Indian company produced the "Aakash" tablet, priced at $50, and sold largely to schoolchildren and students.
Arshad said a second-generation PACPAD would be launched in the next three months, able to connect to the Internet via cellphone networks and other improved features.
He said the Kamra facility could produce up to 1,000 devices a day.
During a brief test, The tablet with its 7-inch screen appeared to run well and the screen responsiveness was sharp.
"It seems good, but operationwise I have to look into it," said Mohammad Akmal, who had come to the store in Rawalpindi to check the product out. "Within a month or so, we will know."
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.
Here's a BBC story on an experiment involving slum children learning to use computers on their own:
(Prof Mitra) has watched the children teach themselves - and others - how to use the machines and gather information.
Professor Mitra's work began (in 1999) when he was working for a software company and decided to embed a computer in the wall of his office in Delhi that was facing a slum.
"The children barely went to school, they didn't know any English, they had never seen a computer before and they didn't know what the internet was."
To his surprise, the children quickly figured out how to use the computers and access the internet.
"I repeated the experiment across India and noticed that children will learn to do what they want to learn to do."
He saw children teaching each other how to use the computer and picking up new skills.
One group in Rajasthan, he said, learnt how to record and play music on the computer within four hours of it arriving in their village.
"At the end of it we concluded that groups of children can learn to use computers on their own irrespective of who or where they are," he said.
His experiments then become more ambitious and more global.
In Cambodia, for example, he left a simple maths game for children to play with.
"No child would play with it inside the classroom. If you leave it on the pavement and all the adults go away then they will show off to one another about what they can do," said Prof Mitra, who now works at Newcastle University in the UK.
He has continued his work in India.
"I wanted to test the limits of this system," he said. "I set myself an impossible target: can Tamil speaking 12-year-olds in south India teach themselves biotechnology in English on their own?"
The researcher gathered 26 children and gave them computers preloaded with information in English.
"I told them: 'there is some very difficult stuff on this computer, I won't be surprised if you don't understand anything'."
Two months later, he returned.
Initially the children said they had not learnt anything, despite the fact that they used the computers everyday.
"Then a 12-year-old girl raised her hand and said 'apart from the fact that improper replication of the DNA contributes to genetic disease - we've understood nothing else'."
Further experiment showed that having a person - known as "the granny figure" - stand behind the children and encourage them raised standards even higher.
Returning to the UK, he fine-tuned his method even further.
He gave groups of four children a computer each and set them a series of GCSE questions.
The groups were allowed to exchange information and swap members.
"The best group solved everything in 20 minutes, the worst in 45 minutes."
To prove that the children were learning, and not just skimming information off the web, he returned two months later and set the same questions. Crucially, this time the children had to answer them on their own with no computer aids.
"The average score when I did it with computers was 76%. When I did it without computers, the average score was 76% - they had near photographic recall."
Professor Mitra has now formalised the lessons from his experiments and has come up with a new concept for schools called SOLE (Self Organised Learning Environments).
These spaces consist of a computer with a bench big enough to let four children sit around the screen.
"It doesn't work if you give them each a computer individually," he said.
For his experiments he has also created a "granny cloud" - 200 volunteer grandmothers who can be called upon to video chat with the kids and provide encouragement..
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."
Here's an ET report on Takhti, Kamra's new tablet PC:
Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) Kamra, a unit of Pakistan military, is set to launch Takhti 7, an android tabled-computer, reported ProPakistani on Tuesday. The first three products produced by PAC are a computing tablet (PAC Pad1), a notebook (PAC nbook 1) and an eBook reader (PAC eBook1).
The 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 partnered with a Chinese company Innavtek International to produce Takhti 7, a better form of PAC Pad1.
The report said that Takhti 7, priced at Rs15,500, has an enhanced hardware with a double RAM and better ARM Cortex-A8 processor, and also boasts of a 7-inch capacitive screen and improved battery time. It also uses Android Ice Cream Sandwich instead of Android Gingerbread used by the PAC Pad1.
However, PAC is still struggling with its sales network. Earlier a PAC official told The Express Tribune that 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.
Here's a BBC story on India's upgraded tablet Akash 2:
India has unveiled a new version of what it says is the "world's cheapest tablet computer" - the Aakash 2.
The device, primarily for students, is to be sold for 2,263 rupees ($40; £26). It has a faster processor, longer battery life and more programming capability than an earlier version.
The government believes that low-cost tablets can help revolutionise internet access across India.
But distribution has been an issue, with few schools receiving the tablets.
A right to information request filed by Indian media blog Medianama showed that only 572 of the first devices have been distributed, reaching fewer than 20 colleges.
"There was some delay in taking the project forward for reasons I don't want to go into," Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibal told a group of teachers and students who had gathered to see the Aakash 2.
The Aakash 2 sample devices are now being tested, with manufacturing projected to start by July or August.
UK-based company Datawind, which faced criticism over delivery of the Aakash 1 in 2011, will manufacture the Aakash 2.
Bombay IIT, an engineering institution, aims to distribute 100,000 tablets to engineering colleges by the end of the year. It says it will use software to track the devices.
Like its predecessor, the Aakash 2 allows users to watch online tutorials and videos, browse the internet and play games.
"It's a fully-fledged computer, not just an access device," said Prof DB Phatak from Bombay IIT. "The applications and the content on Aakash 2 are most important, not just the device."
The new version of the Aakash tablet has an 800Mhz processing speed, a three-hour battery life and operates on the latest Android software.
It also has an SD card slot, a USB port and works over wi-fi. It does not have 3G capability, however, so users need access to a good internet connection.
Bombay IIT has developed new apps like interactive class quiz programme Clicker and Sci-lab, which allows students to conduct interactive classes.
Here's link to an interesting thread on Made in Pakistan products:
LCD TV by TCL Nobel Flat Screens
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.
Here's a story of India's $20 Akash II tablet PC:
Suneet Tuli, the 44-year-old CEO of UK/Canadian/Indian startup Datawind, is having a taxing day. “I’m underwater,” he says as he struggles to find a cell signal outside a restaurant in Mumbai. Two days from then, on Sunday Nov. 11, the president of India, Pranab Mukherjee, will have unveiled the seven-inch Aakash 2 tablet computer Tuli’s company is selling to the government for distribution to 100,000 university students and professors. (If things go well, the government plans to order as many as 5.86 million.) In the meantime, Tuli is deluged with calls from reporters, and every day his company receives thousands of new orders for the commercial version of the Aakash 2. Already, he’s facing a backlog of four million unfulfilled pre-orders.
We’re speaking over the same overtaxed cellular networks that he hopes will enable Datawind to educate every schoolchild in India through the world’s cheapest functional tablet computer. But it’s a losing battle, as his connection to one of the 13 separate cell carriers in Mumbai buckles under too much competing traffic. He has to repeat himself when he tells me the ultimate price university students will pay for his tablet, after half its cost has been subsidized by the Indian government.
In India, that’s a quarter the cost of competing tablets with identical specifications. Similar tablets in China, the world champion in low-cost components and manufacturing, go for $45 and up, wholesale. Which means the Aakash 2 isn’t just the cheapest fully functional tablet PC on the planet because the Indian government has decided it should be—it’s the cheapest, period.
In the developing world, and especially in India, a country where one billion people have a monthly income less than $200, every rupee matters. Aakash means “blue sky” in Hindi, and that’s a fair description of Datawind’s goals for the tablet. Ultimately, says Tuli, the government would like to distribute one to each of India’s 220 million students. India has 900 million cell phone subscriptions, but in a country where smartphones are rare, 95% of Indians have no computing device. Which means the Aakash, or something like it, could become the sole computer for hundreds of millions of people in India, not to mention elsewhere in the developing world.
Unlike the failed Aakash 1, which was supposed to roll out in 2011 but which was so under-powered that it was virtually unusable, the Aakash 2 is no toy. Even jaded US gadget reviewers have found it as usable as tablets costing many times more. It has a processor as powerful as the first iPad and twice as much RAM memory. It uses Google’s Android operating system, which now runs on three out of four smartphones and four out of 10 tablets shipped worldwide. Its LCD touchscreen displays full-screen video without hiccups, it browses the web, and it even holds up when playing videogames. If you’re a student with no other computing device, attaching a keyboard to it transforms it into a serviceable replacement for a traditional PC...
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.
Here's ET on Acer beefing up presence in Pakistan:
LAHORE: Acer, a Taiwanese multinational hardware and electronics corporation have re-launched their presence in Pakistan, with a special focus on youth and government functionaries to capture the emerging information technology market.
In September 2012, The Express Tribune reported that the government planned to spend Rs4.6 billion on IT projects during the fiscal year 2012-13 with an emphasis on strengthening e-government, human resources and infrastructure development. Keeping the investment in mind, Acer is thinking of capitalising on it.
“After relocating our operations from the Middle East to Pakistan, Acer has formally started sales and marketing operations in the country with an initial office in Islamabad since January 2013,” said Amin Mortazavi, Vice President of Acer Middle East and Africa, at the re-launch ceremony. “We are here for a purpose, which we lacked previously.”
The emerging IT sector of Pakistan, especially in Punjab, has forced Acer to shift its operations to here. “We are revamping our setup and landscape with our distributors and channel partners. This, of course, will need investments, which we have planned for future expansions.”
Moreover, this will also aid masses in acquisition of Acer products, besides generating employment opportunities, Mortazavi said.
“We will launch more tablets in 2013, at affordable prices, catering the needs of the region,” Mortazavi said.
50% of Pakistan’s population is under 30 years of age and their appetite for information is big, therefore Acer seeks to tap this market segment.
Acer is also eager to work closely with the provincial government, especially after the launch of youth programmes particularly in the shape of laptop distributions. Acer was hopeful to score the contract for the scheme, which they previously failed to secure. “We are eager for this, we want to deliver, but with due process, and we are working on this also.”
The business model, which Acer is adopting for Pakistan is quite interesting. The representatives failed to answer the initial investment figures Acer made for the re-launch.
The tech firm wanted to be transparent, growing step-by-step and proceeding to the next goal only after the first one matures. The company’s Islamabad office will, firstly, focus on commercial business and work for importing latest technology. Later, Acer will revamp its entire channel programme and then run a campaign to build a brand image.
“We are not in a position to tell the exact figures of the initial investment,” said Ali Nemati, General Manager of Acer for the Middle East, the person previously supervising Acer’s Pakistani operations from Dubai. “Once we achieve the first step of the business plan, in three months, then I will be able to tell the figures,” he said.
Acer claims that they still have a 30% market share in Pakistan, despite of their absence, but the officials said that the share is not the goal for them; it is just an indicator of growth for the brand. Acer’s partners and distributors look forward to increased support from the global firm, particularly in terms of customised training, certification, and sales lead generation.
“Our partners will be able to see immediate benefits as we focus on making the channel more profitable. The Pakistani IT market is constantly evolving and is of significant importance to Acer. We have made great progress in the last few years, and empowering our channel is instrumental for our continued success,” Nemati added.
Here's PakObserver on Dell business in Pakistan:
Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - Peshawar—Dell is proud to be doing its part in developing literacy and promoting education in Pakistan. Dell was recently selected to provide the provincial government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) 25,000 Inspiron3420 computers, the first round of distribution was conducted on Feb 10 at Peshawar University.
Speaking about the initiative, Project Director KPK, Adeel Khan, said “This project is a great leap in terms of equipping our youth to meet the challenges of the modern world and to keep Pakistan a competitor in the global knowledge economy. Dell’s involvement goes a long way in guaranteeing the success of this initiative.”
The initiative is the largest of its kind ever in the province and is designed to help enable students and people of KPK to become productive and contributing members of society and to give back to the province.
Shahzad Aslam Khan, Country Manager Dell Pakistan & Afghanistan, said “We look forward to working with KPK as they increase technology access and the learning potential for students. Mobile computing devices have become essential to daily life — at work, at home and increasingly, in academic institutions. Students are leveraging devices of all kinds to access information, collaborate with their peers and teachers, and produce dynamic content inside and outside of the classroom.
At Dell, we believe these devices can help support teaching and learning – and have the potential to personalize the learning experience for each student.Dell is delighted to work with KPK in this important program and is committed to providing these devices by meeting aggressive time lines and ensuring highest product quality”.
Here's an ET report on QMobile's Android smart phones in Pakistan:
...This Karachi-based company was set up by Mian Pervez Akhtar of Allied Electronics Industries – an importer, assembler and distributor of LG products in Pakistan – around five years ago. According to our sources, QMobile’s revenues have witnessed a phenomenal boost since then: for the year ended June 30, 2012, its revenues stood at Rs761 million – up by a staggering 85.8% over the previous year.
However, the company operates with a different business model as compared to companies like Samsung and Nokia: although it calls itself a mobile phone company, QMobile does not manufacture its own devices; instead, it imports them from vendors in China, and sells them under its own brand. The same phones are sold in India for example under the Micromax label.
QMobile’s growth has taken measured steps. The company started with selling basic mobile phones: “Their low-end devices still account for most of their revenues,” an industry source says. QMobile has a large customer base in rural Pakistan, which accounts for more than 65% of the population. It entered the smartphone segment relatively recently.
Its product range now includes phones with touchscreen features, QWERTY input and WiFi-accessibility. It has also launched a series of smartphones powered by the Android operating system, which is the most commonly used smartphone platform today.
QMobile has built itself a strong image in the market, because it provides fairly high-end features at prices affordable for most Pakistanis: you can now buy a branded Android smartphone for as low as Rs6,500, complete with a warranty, thanks to QMobile. This may well be the primary driver behind QMobile’s growth.
“Basic phones constituted about 90% of Pakistan’s mobile phone market five years ago, but this equation is changing now,” an industry source said. “Consumers are shifting from basic mobile phones to feature phones and smartphones, and today they account for more than 20% of the market. Out of that, smartphones alone account for more than 10% of the market,” he said.
QMobile claims to be the number two brand in the country: and industry sources say that in the absence of any accurately verifiable numbers, this may be so in terms of the volumes of units it sells.
A heavy marketing campaign has also helped the company build a strong brand name. “QMobile is a success story, especially in terms of branding,” a telecom consultant said. Its advertising budget is higher than even that of market leader Nokia, an official revealed.
This is one of the main reasons behind the brand’s success. The company has even used product placement as an advertising technique to promote its products. Take, for example, Bulbulay: a primetime sitcom, which often promotes QMobile products, one source pointed out. “This kind of advertising does not cost much, and earns the company valuable marketing: that too in prime time hours,” he said. Moreover, QMobile has always used Pakistan’s hottest celebrities in advertising its products. Pop singers Atif Aslam and Abrarul Haq have promoted QMobile phones in the past. Iman Ali has modeled for them. Hugely popular television celebrity Fawwad Khan is now promoting their top-tier Noir smartphones. All these factors have helped QMobile make a name for itself as being in a league apart from the cheap Chinese copies of popular handsets currently circulating in the market. It has achieved a measure of respect as a legitimate name in the cellular phone industry......
Here's an excerpt from TechCrunch on Raspberry Pi computer in developing nations:
Asked about the global sales distribution of the Pi, the Foundation provided TechCrunch with some “very rough”, internal estimates of Pi sales to developing/emerging nations — and the figures (listed below) suggest that the first million+ Pi sales have overwhelmingly been powered by wealthier nations.
The most Pi-populous country on the developing/emerging nations list (India) can lay claim to roughly 0.5%-0.6% of total global Pi sales to-date, according to this data. While, collectively, these listed nations make up between only 1.4% and 1.7% of total global Pi shipments. So more than 98% of the Pi pie has been sold to the world’s wealthiest countries thus far.
Lao P.Dem.R. 600
Sri Lanka 50
South Africa 2000
There are also, of course, scores of (apparently) Pi-less developing nations that do not make this list at all. One of which – the Kingdom of Bhutan — does actually have a princely one Pi sale to its name at present, according to the Foundation. “It’s a server for Khan Academy Lite in a school, whose 64GB SD card costs more than twice what the Pi cost,” the Foundation’s Liz Upton tells TechCrunch. “We’re working on getting more out there!”
It’s likely that some of the Pis shipped to developed countries have found their way to less wealthy nations – via charities and other ‘suitcase schemes’ such as the Cameroon school project mentioned above which took out 30 Pis. Or via individual buyers seeking to avoid high import tariffs that can push up the price of bulk commercial imports (such as in Brazil).
But even factoring in some extra spread, there’s no doubt the Pi is predominantly disrupting the living rooms and schools of the developed world. Which, it should be noted, was the original ambition of the Pi founders — specifically they wanted to get more U.K. kids coding, following a national slump in interest in computer science education....
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.
Here's an excerpt of Express Tribune report on LG Electronics investment in Pakistan:
“We have decided to expand our operations by enhancing production capacities to capture growing consumer demand in Pakistan,” said DY Kim, President of LG Electronics Gulf, while talking to The Express Tribune on Thursday.
“Currently, our production in Pakistan is only limited to televisions and LCDs, but in a couple of months we will start producing other household items like microwaves and washing machines,” he added.
LG Electronics is a global leader and technology innovator in consumer electronics, mobile communications and home appliances with 117 operations around the world.
LG achieved global sales of $49 billion in 2011. It is offering products in four segments – home entertainment, mobile communications, home appliances and air conditioning & energy solutions.
In Pakistan, LG is increasing investment to enhance production capacity, but Kim did not divulge exact figure and only said it would be in billions of rupees.
The company is looking to compete with Samsung, which has increased its market share in recent years.
“We want to give consumers with some other option and we are hopeful this will not take much time,” Kim 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.
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.”
I would like to add that Pakistani Brand For Mobile Manufacturing QMOBILE has Not Only Launched Smart Phones with the NOIR Series, they have also recently launched an Eight Inches Tablet with Quad Core Processor and 16.GB built in Rom & 1.GB Ram, which is also available for online Shopping at COMPUTER POINT.
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.”
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”....
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.
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/
Here's Express Tribune on laptop manufacturing by Haier in Pakistan:
The government on Monday signed contract with Haier China to procure 100,000 laptops under the Prime Minister’s youth scheme. Plans for setting up a laptop assembly plant in the outskirts of Lahore was also announced to have been approved in principle.
The agreement was signed in a ceremony at the Higher Education Commission secretariat in Islamabad accompanied by a meeting at the prime minister house that was chaired by Maryam Nawaz Sharif.
Director General, Information Technology HEC Anwar Amjad and Zhang Le, International Projects Manager, Haier Electrical Appliances Corp. Ltd. signed the contract.
The prime minister’s scheme aims to distribute 100,000 laptops during 2013-14.
The Prime Minister’s Youth Programme chairperson directed Haier Pakistan to establish a laptop assembly plant in Pakistan. The laptops produced in this plant will also carry the label of “Assembled in Pakistan,” she further directed.
Haier Electrical Appliances Corp Ltd General Manager Wang said that his company, “always focus on customers’ demands.”
The plant is expected to produce laptops of the same quality which are being imported.
COO Haier Pakistan Khalid Afridi, GM Haier Computers Tristan Wong, and Managing Director PTV Mohammad Malick were present at the meeting.
Here's an Express Tribune story on Chinese interest in manufacturing smartphones in Pakistan:
A Chinese delegation expressed its commitment to set up a smartphone manufacturing plant in Pakistan before Finance Minister Ishaq Dar assured the investors of reduced income tax rates as a neatly-folded package of incentives.
The delegation said the plant would be set up on a fast-track basis as Pakistan begins to move forward in the telecom sector after acquiring next-generation 3G and 4G services.
In response, the government on Friday assured the Chinese mobile manufacturing companies that its upcoming production plants of smart-phones for next-generation services will qualify for reduced income tax rates announced in the new budget as part of incentives to lure foreign investors.
Chinese Mobile Companies Association Secretary General Lou Peide, who was the head of the delegation, informed that the group comprises prominent Chinese companies in the smartphone manufacturing sector. He said the delegation is in Pakistan to share Chinese experience and expertise as Pakistan’s domestic market presents a huge opportunity for the manufacturing of smartphones capable of 3G/4G technology.
Piede mentioned that with a population of nearly 200 million and a high growth rate of the mobile industry, there is a huge requirement for local manufacturing units in the country.
He informed that Chinese companies own almost 80% of the global market and produce smartphones that cost between $22 to $600, highlighting the impact of Chinese companies in the global mobile phone market.
The auction of next-generation contributed significantly to the national exchequer and Pakistan earned over $1 billion from the auction of these licences. Two licences of next-generation technology remain unsold.
As against the present corporate income tax rate of 33 percent, the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in manufacturing, construction and housing will be subject to 20 percent corporate income tax.
Assisted by the Minister of State for Science and Technology and other officials, Dar briefed the Chinese investors on the latest economic indicators and performance of the economy during the last year. He also discussed the proposed budget which provides special incentives for foreign investment in Pakistan.
Dar said that FDI in the Information Technology sector will enjoy a special corporate tax rate for the next five years if they complete their projects in a three-year time period till June 30, 2017. The finance minister assured the group of investors that their concrete proposal prepared in consultation with the ministry of IT and the Board of Investment (BOI) will be considered seriously to develop local mobile manufacturing units in Pakistan.
He further assured the delegation of Chinese investors that the government will provide incentives for local manufacturing of smartphones and other IT related solutions during the next three years.
Dar concluded commenting that as Pakistan has an educated and skilled young labour force, the country can and should be used as an export base to the whole region.
Excerpt from International Business: An Asia Pacific Perspective
By Andrew Delios
Haier entered Pakistan in February 2001 by jointly establishing a facility with Pakistan-based Panapak Electronic Company to produce Haier air conditioners. Next, the Group opened Haier (Pakistan) Industrial Park in Lahore in April 2001. In 2004, Haier was the first foreign brand home appliance manufacturer in Pakistan to obtain the ISO9001:2000 Certification which confirms the company meets requirements for quality management systems and enhanced customer service. Haier continues to develop the Pakistan home appliance industry.
Excerpts from China's Outward Foreign Investment: A Political Perspective
By Xiaofei Li
Haeir has 8 industrial complexes, two of which are foreign-one in the United States, and one in Pakistan.
Haier does localization in Pakistan: For Pakistani market, Haier especially designed a washer that can hold 15 long gowns at one time, which is suitable for daily life in Pakistan.
Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) has expanded its next-generation CharJi EVO wireless broadband services to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s capital Peshawar.
The introduction of CharJi EVO will enable residents of Peshawar to experience Pakistan’s fastest and most reliable 4G LTE wireless broadband service at speed up to 36Mbps.
The company ushered a new era of technological innovation in the country by introducing the next generation ‘CharJi EVO’ in 2014, which is an addition to the 3G EVO range of services already serving the residents of Peshawar and customers nationwide.
The launch ceremony of CharJi EVO services was attended by a large audience of business community, senior government officials, media personalities as well as representatives of IT and education sector.
KP’s Finance Minister Muzafar Said was the chief guest at the occasion.
PTCL Chief Commercial Officer Adnan Shahid, while speaking at the launch ceremony said, “PTCL has always been at the forefront in introducing innovative technologies and services in the country and our fixed and wireless broadband services are acting as a catalyst in transforming the socio-economic landscape of Pakistan.”
“PTCL has always introduced technologies that have helped people improve their lives. Peshawar is a historic city and a strong business hub and CharJi wireless broadband services will open new possibilities of growth and development in the area,” he added further.
CharJi EVO service is available in convenient dongles, Mi-Fi clouds and tablet, providing a powerful internet experience, faster web browsing, HD video streaming, downloads, uploads and low latency (ping) rates for online gaming.
The ease and comfort of CharJi EVO cloud devices with its state of the art Wi-Fi capability and fast internet browsing brings an unparalleled experience, connecting up to 10 Wi-Fi enabled devices simultaneously.
PTCL has launched Pakistan’s first 4G LTE tablet ‘CHARJI EVO TAB’ which provides built-in CharJi connectivity and voice calling feature.
Last month, an India-based mobile manufacturing company named Ringing Bells announced a series of ultra-low budget, domestically-produced mobile handsets. These new phones included India’s cheapest 4G smartphone at ₹2999 ($44.60) and a 3G model dubbed Freedom 251 priced at a jaw-droppingly low ₹251 ($3.80).
The market for budget smartphones in India is massive: though the per capita income is just under $1,600, this year India is projected to overtake the United States in smartphone purchases. Currently, the market is dominated by a few major players: Samsung, Micromax, and Intex. Using manufacturing facilities in China, companies like Micromax and Intex produce hardware replicas of iPhones, Samsung Galaxys, and HTC Ones, trying their best to provide specifications that keep up with the current global standards. These efforts include Micromax’s $34 3G enabled phone and Intex’s HTC-inspired model for just $50.
But until now, no one had tried to market a phone for less than $4. What’s it like to use a $4 smartphone? I decided to investigate. From the start, something about the Freedom 251 didn’t seem right: though the expected delivery date is set at June 2016, it was almost impossible to obtain a review unit after the big reveal. I reached out to Ringing Bells’ media relations team to get one and was repeatedly stonewalled.
Then, reports surfaced indicating that the review units that were made available weren’t actually Freedom 251s. They were Adcom Ikon 4s, a $61 handset developed by a Delhi based company, and manufactured in Chinese, and Taiwanese units, and currently available in the market.
Amidst the confusion, reports of fraud surfaced. India’s Income Tax Department paid the company’s head office —which was shut down earlier this month— a visit. Since their initial announcement, the Ringing Bells’ website has listed all of its phones, including the Freedom 251 as unavailable for immediate sale, and their social media channels are flooded with unhappy customer comments. All their phones have reached pre-order limits according the communication on their website. Customer support is unavailable, and after failing to get in touch with company representatives over phone and email, it is difficult to understand whether Ringing Bells is still a functioning company. The enforcement directorate has ordered an investigation into Ringing Bells possible breach of the Foreign Exchange Management Act.
Ringing Bells has admitted to purchasing demo handsets from Adcom and dressing them up as Freedom 251s to give the press an idea of what their eventual product would look like. But there’s no way Ringing Bells could build a phone comparable to the Ikon 4: a breakdown of the phone’s parts reveals it would cost roughly ₹2500 ($37.33) to build. Adcom, along with everyone else, was dumbfounded by Ringing Bells’ logic; the company has threatened to seek damages against Ringing Bells for dragging its company, and brand name, into this mess.
Eventually I did get my hands on one of the Adcom Ikon 4s, shabbily repackaged as the Freedom 251. While booting up, it pops up a rather optimistic screen that has the Hindi line ‘your dreams will come true,’ written in English. The inside panel and battery were taped over with Freedom 251 branding, and the Indian flag was printed across the back panel. In the week I used it, the phone held up pretty well, maintaining a solid 3G connection and functioning about as well as I could expect a $60 smartphone to.
Datawind’s $38 Tablet Looks like a $38 Tablet
For tablets, the race to the bottom has just reached a new low with Datawind’s Ubislate 7Ci, an Android tablet that’s on sale now for $38.
The Ubislate 7Ci has an interesting history. It started out as a project by India’s government to get cheap tablets into the hands of students, under the name Aakash. After being announced in 2010 with a target price of $35, the finished product arrived a year later with a $45 bill of materials, and DataWind as the manufacturer.
But back then, it wasn’t possible to buy the Aakash outside of India, and a comparable tablet from DataWind cost well over $100. It’s taken a couple years, but Datawind has finally managed to reach a sub-$40 price for U.S. consumers. You can buy the Ubislate 7Ci straight from Datawind’s website.
Here’s what $38 gets you:
7-inch, 800-by-480 resolution capacitive touchscreen
1 GHz single-core processor
512 MB of RAM
4 GB of storage
MicroSD card slot
0.3-megapixel front camera
Basically, these are the specs we were seeing on smartphones a few years ago, and tablets of this quality were showing up for $100 as early as 2011. You get what you pay for with these devices, and that generally translates to poor viewing angles, weak battery life and so-so performance. The meager 4 GB of storage doesn’t leave much room for apps, though the inclusion of a MicroSD slot is helpful.
Even if you don’t find this tablet appealing, the price point alone is impressive. The average tablet today could reach a similar price in a few years, opening up new uses and business models. Magazines or newspapers could bundle their subscription costs into cheap tablet instead of paper. Schools could install a touchscreen on every desk. Touchscreens and Internet connectivity could become much more commonplace in appliances like ovens, washers and dryers and kitchen tables.
For those uses, cheap and “good enough” are all that are required, and that’s exactly where Datawind is headed. Suneet Singh Tuli, Datawind’s CEO, told the Washington Post that the company hopes to be producing $20 tablets in a year or two. For now, Datawind is targeting students and users who don’t have an Internet connection.
Word is that DataWind will be showing off its $38 tablet at the CES trade show next month, so hopefully we’ll be able to check it out then.
GFIVE a mobile communication brand of GFIVE Group is the first-ever mobile manufacturing company in Pakistan. GFive is listed in top 10 in terms of global sales volume, has continued to hold the title of the fastest developing communication company. With established strong sales network based on the 95 global operations centers (including Pakistan), G’FIVE expands its business in full communication industry, dedicated in providing smart phone service to more consumers globally.
Since 2014 GFIVE team made efforts to establish world leading standard manufacturing plant in Pakistan. Today by the Grace of ALLAH (ALL MIGHTY) GFIVE Mobile (Pvt) Limited is the Pioneer in Pakistan who assembled and produced GFIVE Smart Phone & Bar Phone handsets first time in Pakistan with labeling “Made in Pakistan”.
By installing State-of-the- Art Assembling Plant and Equipment approved by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) with the capacity to produce over half million handset per month. Gfive started its trail production successfully in January 2016, and produced over 87,000 handset of Smart and Bar Phones which completely meets the high quality standards.
With the aim, GFive Mobile (Private) Limited started their first ever state of the art Mobile production line & assembling unit in Pakistan for feature & Smart Phone segments to serve our valuable Pakistani customers nation-wide back up with strong after sale services.
GFive management always primarily focus on introducing reliable products to their customers at a very economical prices with strong after sale services & support nation-wide, We always believe, Pakistan is a highly potential market for production & assembling mobile handsets after the introduction of 3G/4G and upcoming 5G services together with a significant development towards digitized Pakistan and this is the right time to serve our Pakistani people, who feel proud to buy first ever “Made in Pakistan” handset.
GFive Mobile (Private) Limited has kept very strong network coverage, which cover all major & connecting cities of Pakistan through our strong distributional channel include whole-seller, dealer/retailers, high profile corporate sector such as Hypermarkets, Mobile Operators, Online Stores and Banks, etc. In addition of this, we also kept presence of our own outlets, regional offices, direct sales team and Customer care Centres.
We wish and hope that Government will also lead the initiative through practical steps in this direction and encourage companies to setup such type of production & assembling units in Pakistan and put Pakistan on the world map where handsets are assembled and manufactured in Pakistan and GFive Mobile (Private) Limited is a pioneer and of-course trend setter in Pakistan telecom industry and being served Pakistan 100% by Made-In Pakistan” Handset.
We are proud of what we’ve achieved but this journey continues and we want to be better than we have ever been before as we strongly believe that we are bigger than ‘a handset provider’.
#Tablets replace books in #Pakistan's #Punjab province in a pilot program at 8 schools. https://www.geo.tv/latest/119565-Tablets-replace-books-in-Punjab-schools …
The Punjab government has introduced e-learning system at schools. In the first stage eight public schools have been given tablets.
Students are reading science through video stories on these tablets.
Math, biology, chemistry and physics subjects are available on tablets for classes six till ten.
The lectures are available in both Urdu and English. Meanwhile e-learning libraries can also be accessed through the tablets.
Teachers claim that this initiative has made learning interactive for children. “Children learn through imagination. For example when you teach them about an atom they have to picture a nucleus and electron. The videos explain the concept to the children,” a teacher said.
“Our concepts are clearer now. The videos are interesting,” a student said.
Pakistan lags far behind when it comes to children's education. According to a study, 25 million children in Pakistan are out of school.
Pakistan's military-run enterprises need upgrade to revive economy
Corporate empire has potential to be globally competitive
By Uzair Younus
Pakistan's economy is facing another crisis as the country reaches a staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund to resume the support program that was suspended earlier this year. The finalization of the agreement will unlock inflows of almost $1.2 billion, critical to helping stabilize the country's economy.
This latest crisis is part of the decades-long economic decline of the country, which has been captured by a kleptocratic elite. This system is underpinned by Pakistan's powerful military, which operates a multibillion-dollar corporate empire across various sectors.
To many observers, the military's dominant role in the economy must be curtailed if Pakistan is to achieve sustainable growth. But well-meaning as they might be, these efforts have consistently failed to date, meaning that Military Inc. continues to be the dominant player in Pakistan's economy.
It is time to accept that rather than trying to cut this empire down to size, it may be more fruitful to develop Military Inc. 2.0: a corporate empire that is globally competitive.
Pakistan's military began playing a role in the economy soon after independence. The construction of the 805-km cross-border Karakoram Highway in the Himalayas was a major inflection point. The Frontier Works Organization was formed then with the mission to construct the highway on the Pakistani side.
Today, military-run organizations have their tentacles spread across the entire economy, with the military-owned Fauji Foundation being one of the largest conglomerates in the country. The government has exempted both the Army Welfare Trust and the Fauji Foundation from income taxes, giving them an edge over privately owned companies.
The military also operates housing developments across the country, with the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) a dominant force in the country's real estate sector. While the initial aim was to develop homes for serving and retired military personnel, DHA has since evolved into a multibillion-dollar entity with a presence in all major cities.
The military's economic footprint, however, is indicative of broader economic issues plaguing Pakistan. For decades, Pakistan's civilian and military elites have extracted wealth by engaging in highly protected, low-productivity sectors. As a result, Pakistani businesses are both globally uncompetitive and provide shoddy services to domestic consumers.
An example is the DHA project in Karachi, built on land reclaimed from the Arabian Sea. The predominant role enjoyed by the military meant that development of the DHA site occurred without proper access to proper stormwater drainage, resulting in multimillion-dollar homes, paid for in cash, routinely being flooded during monsoon rains.
Political volatility and instability have further compounded the problems, leading to an anemic rate of foreign direct investment, particularly in export-oriented sectors. The result: recurring balance of payments crises that require bailouts.
To emerge from this crisis, Pakistan's military must learn from its strategic ally China. While the Chinese regime also began with military-run organizations developing public infrastructure, over the decades, it has developed companies that have a more global outlook.
In addition, China focused on improving quality by leveraging technology while also investing in global best practices. This ensured that the country built globally competitive businesses that enhanced China's technological reach, such as telecommunications group Huawei Technologies.
Pakistan's military-run enterprises need upgrade to revive economy
Corporate empire has potential to be globally competitive
By Uzair Younus
Pakistan's military would do well to mimic China's strategy to become globally connected, competitive and innovative.
Such a reconfiguration may solve Pakistan's macroeconomic challenges and recurring external crises, as the military is finding it difficult to muster resources required to compete with an India that is growing at a faster pace and rapidly modernizing its military. This is tilting the balance of power in the region toward India, creating national security risks for Pakistan.
Critics will argue that reorienting the military's corporate empire will only worsen the challenges facing Pakistan's floundering democracy. This concern is valid, but Pakistan's growing economic challenges mean that it is time to prioritize sustainable growth and socioeconomic development.
Changing the military's corporate approach is likely to create the space for broader economic reforms that are urgently needed to end Pakistan's protracted economic decline.
The experience of the last few years shows that there is, at least in the near term, no political party capable of challenging and dislodging the military from its dominant role.
The next best alternative is to leverage the military's economic empire to transform the country's economy. But the question is: Do Pakistan's generals have it in them to reform in a way that generates wealth for their country?
With millions of younger Pakistanis joining the workforce and failing to find jobs, the time for a different approach is now.
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