Archive for May, 2005

800 new IT awarness centres planned

Tuesday, May 31st, 2005

Provincial Minister of IT for Sindh, Mustafa Kamal announced 800 IT awareness centers.

This is not an official press release. It came during his speech at the golden jubilee commemorations of the chemistry department of Karachi University. He offered his profound inisght by adding that IT had significant role to play in the fields of science, especially chemistry and Karachi University’s IT department would play a significant role in the scientific development of the country.

Further, the Chairman of Higher Education Commission (HEC) Dr. Attaur Rehman was honoured with the “Best Student Award”. I think this is a misprint as he is nowhere close to being an academic student.

Anyone have details on these IT centres? What do they have? Who was contracted with building, deploying and managing the existing 35 IT centres?

PASHA Job fair 2005

Sunday, May 29th, 2005

Pakistan Software Houses Association (PASHA) is holding their first job fair on June 2nd 2005 at the Marriot hotel in Karachi. The fair’s objectives are are:

  • To create a link between the IT and ITeS industry and the academic sector
  • To correct the perception that there are no jobs available in the IT sector. It is imperative that we convince young people that our sector is alive and well and growing at a rate of over 50% a year.
  • Providing companies a platform for recruitment
  • To provide an opportunity for companies to market themselves

The job fair also features several workshops designed to coach new job seekers on topics such as resume writing, interviewing tips and enhancing communication skills. PASHA was started in 1992 by 9 software development houses and since then has grown to have over 200 member companies. This looks like an excellent opportunity for job seekers and employers in the IT industry. Their website says that the last day to register was May 15, though their registration link still seems to work.

PTCL workers on country-wide strike

Friday, May 27th, 2005

Daily Times reports that over 50,000 PTCL employees are observing a country wide strike. The PTCL worker’s union claims that they have not been offered as raise for the past six years and are demanding more incentives and job surety before PTCL’s upcoming round of privatization. Talks between the Union and management (chaired by the Minister of IT, Awais Khan Leghri) have ended bitterly with both sides refusing to budge on their stance. Meanwhile a bearish trend has hit the country’s stock markets partially due to the strike.

With about $2 billon at stake are the workers trying to unfairly twist the Government’s arm less than a month before the privatization?

Crackdowns affect the Piracy Market

Thursday, May 26th, 2005

The BBC reports that last weeks phenomenon of the release of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith took a hit in the piracy market of Pakistan. The film was released three days later than expected. Vendors claim that it was due to the latest police crackdowns in piracy hubs of the country. Most new films that are released in Pakistan do so within 48 hours of the film’s international release. Most Indian films are released three days before the official release. The question remains, how do vendors keep their livelihood if there is no legal alternative for them to pursue?

Pakistan’s claim of 10.5m cellphone subscribers misleading

Thursday, May 26th, 2005

We previously reported Mobile phone users crossing the 10 million mark. However, Dawn is now reporting that the 10.5 million claim is overblown. The figure merely reflects the sale of SIMs and not neccessarily active subscribers, and SIMs as we know are dime a dozen. Additionaly some people only use phones to recieve free incoming calls after paying a minimal base subscriber fee. The actual figure of subscribers could be as low as 5 million.

Callmate Telips selects iBasis for International Voice Services over VoIP

Wednesday, May 25th, 2005

BusinessWire reports: Callmate Telips, Pakistan’s first private Long Distance and International (LDI) operator is interconnecting with iBasis for international voice services.

iBasis is a wholesale carrier of LDI whose customers include AT&T, Skype, China Mobile, Sprint and MCI among others.

As of Nov 2003, Pakistan had only 4 million fixed phone lines with a population of over 150 million. India in contrast had 43.91 fixed line users as of Oct 2004 and 43.90 mobile users on the same date which previously doubled in 2002-2003 and doubled again in 2003-2004.

This will give PTCL some more competition for the ~160 million Pakistanis. We previously reported mobile phone carriers crossing the 10 million mark and PTCL targetting 2 million additional users in 2005.

Warid opens it’s doors to the public

Monday, May 23rd, 2005

Follow up from our previous Warid launch story, today Warid has officially opened up it’s offices to the public in 28 cities. The prefix is 0321 and in case you didn’t see the full-page advertisement in one of the local papers, here are some notable features of their packages:

  • Rs 1.50/min for friends and family (how do they keep track of who family is?).
  • Rs 2/min for Warid to Warid calls.
  • Rs 3/min for all other calls.
  • Rs 0.5-1 for SMS (how does this work?).
  • Zero line rent on postpaid connections.
  • 30 second rounding on billing instead of the usual 1 minute (is this on international calls as well?).
  • Discounts on off-peak calling (off-peak hours from 10pm to 7am).
  • Voicemail (have not seen the rest offer this as a standard feature).
  • Conference calling.

Rates don’t include tax.

Warid’s website is currently high on fluff and low on details.

Mobilink launches GPRS service … finally!

Friday, May 20th, 2005

Business Recorder reports that Mobilink has launched its long awaited GPRS service. The initial release is limited to post-paid Indigo subscribers in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. The service requires a new subscription add-on costing Rs.500 per month (promotional offer according to their site). Included in the subscription is the ability to send unlimited ‘peer to peer’ MMS, unlimited browsing and full access to their newly launched WAP portal (flash demo of portal here).

Mobilink’s competitors Telenor and UFone have long provided metered GPRS services at Rs.15 per megabyte, though neither competitor offers a portal experience similar to Mobilink’s.

Iran gas pipeline the easiest option for Pakistan

Friday, May 20th, 2005

Reuters is reporting that the Pakistani government considers the $4 billion Iranian gas pipeline passing through Pakistan, India and possibly China, the easiest to implement for the country.

Pakistan says it faces a major shortage of oil and gas by 2010…Kasuri said Pakistan was depleting its energy reserves so rapidly that it might consider more than one pipeline… “Previously we thought that we wouldn’t require gas for the next 20-30 years, because of our own reserves, but now it’s being depleted so fast that we need gas anyway.”

Pakistan is considering importing gas from Iran, Turkmenistan or Qatar. The government expects to choose two out of the three proposed gas line projects by the the end of this year.

Extreme offshoring: Pakistani Virtual Secretary

Thursday, May 19th, 2005

The Resource Group (TRG) has taken off shoring to the extreme by hiring a virtual secretary to work at their Washington, DC office. The secretary answers phones, orders sandwiches, schedules meetings, greets visitors and even opens the door for the FedEx guy … while sitting 7,500 miles away in Karachi, Pakistan.

TRG specializes in acquiring western businesses (mostly call centre operations) and off shoring part of their operations to Pakistan. This reduces operating costs and increases efficiency, which results in higher profits.

The news is slightly old, but this had to be put up because of sheer coolness. Anyone know of similar innovative offshoring or outsourcing setups?