Archive for May, 2005

PTCL privatization update: Singtel and Etisalat strongest contenders

Tuesday, May 17th, 2005

According to The News UAE based Etisalat and Singapore based Singtel are the top contenders for the upcoming PTCL privatization because of their deep pockets and already saturation of their home markets. Other contenders for 26% stake in PTCL are: Telekom Malysia (also a very strong contender with $1 billion in cash reserves), TurkCell, Saudi Oger, Saudi Telecom and China Telecom.

The tentative date for the sale is set to be end of June.

24 hour Internet outage

Monday, May 16th, 2005

PTCL has announced an 24 hour Internet outage(6th headline down) due to repairs and upgrade to SeaMeWe-3 cable. The repairs have been ongoing since Sep 26, 2004 and should be a sigh of relief for many ISPs suffering from consistent outages. PTCL will provide satellite uplink during the outage for voice and private leases.

We can only hope our infrastructure becomes reliable enough for Call Centers which usually require 99.999% (5 9s in geek speak) uptime.

Update: Turned out Daily Times shows today’s date on all their archive pages and this story was 2 years old.

New Pakistan-India fibre-optic link

Monday, May 16th, 2005

Another fibre-optic link between India and Pakistan will be setup in the upcoming months running from Lahore, Pakistan to Amritsar, India. The Ministry of IT & Telecom is delegating PTCL to prepare a feasibility report due next month, with another six month following to lay out the network. The agreement could have evolved from an earlier news event reporting India-Pakistan coast guard link-up.

Pakistan’s current (and only international) backbone runs through India via the SeaMeWe-3 undersea fibre-optic cable. The new connection should provide some bandwidth relief. Is there any other route Pakistan can take to create an independent uplink?

Karachi internet blackout on Friday 13th

Sunday, May 15th, 2005

On Friday, 13th of May, a fire at Information Technology Infrastructure’s Karachi Pakistan Internet Exchange (PIE) office caused disruption to the city’s Internet connectivity. According to ITI’s helpdesk a fire started at the I.I.Chundrigar exchange was responsible for severing last mile connections to various ISPs and businesses who depend on PIE for their net connectivity. The fire started at 4pm and it took ITI’s personnel about 8 hours to restore connections one-at-a-time to effected customers.

Customers of PIE include ISPs, Data Network Operators (DNOPS), DSL Service providers, software exporters, call centers, educational institutes and corporate businesses.

This is not the first time PTCL’s PIE network has faced problems with reliablity. Tee Emm’s (slightly old) blog provides excellent background on PIE and reliability issues it faced sometime in 2003.

Warid launches in Pakistan

Friday, May 13th, 2005

Warid is to launch operations in 28 cities today. They have a current initial capacity to support 1.5 million people.

Warid has signed agreements with five companies: Nokia (to supply cellphones), Huawei (optical transmission network), Chimera (after sales services), Frontier Works (local expertise and laying out of 5000km Optical Fibre cable) and Ericsson (GSM/GPRS + core radio and network equipment).

Frontier Works Organization is an army-run company (often charged with monopolizing government contracts) and proposed the clifton underpass in a record 4 months, but the proposal puts the company to shame (they should have hired some civil engineers).

More interestingly though, their GM Sales & Marketing is Naveed Saeed. This is his NAB profile:

Name: Naveed Saeed
Occupation: Inspector Punjab Police
Allegation: Corruption and corrupt practices through known sources of income.
Court Decision: The Court has finally accepted the application u/s 9 (c) of NAO 1999 and closed the case against Naveed Saeed.
NAB Name: Lahore
Ref Date: 1/19/2005
Ref No: 1/C/2005

What does an inspector know about marketing a multi-million dollar telecom company? I didn’t bother googling the rest of the team.

Telenor is responding by offering free in-network MMS and cross network SMS (reported to have some problems). We previously covered Mobile Number Portability which should set the stage for competition.

Pakistan’s first women fighter pilots

Thursday, May 12th, 2005

The BBC reports:

Pakistan’s first women fighter pilots

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) academy has been all-male for more than 55 years - but now it is going through major change. Women are now allowed to enroll on its aerospace engineering and fighter pilot programmers and are doing rather well.

When the current batch passes out in a year these cadets will become the first-ever women fighter pilots in Pakistan’s history.

Diversity is the key to progress. Participation of women in technology arenas has always been very low in Pakistan. What other technology related areas are Pakistani women having an impact on?

[ed] Malaysia is another Muslim country that has female airforce pilots.

Bill Gates Foundation to give $6.5 million to Pakistan for Health Care and Education

Wednesday, May 11th, 2005

Dawn reports:

Bill Gates Foundation pledges $6.5 million to support health, education efforts LONDON May 11 (APP).

The Bill Gates Foundation pledged US$ 6.5 million to Pakistan Human
Development Fund (PHDF) for supporting its health care and school education programmes in neglected districts of the country. State Minister and Chairman for National Commission for Human Development, Dr.Nasim Ashraf, announced the contribution while speaking at a dinner hosted by the patrons and trustees of the Pakistan Human Development Fund UK Chapter on Tuesday.(Posted @ 17:50 PST)

Mobile phone users cross 10 million mark

Wednesday, May 11th, 2005

An interesting news item at Daily Times reports Pakistan has 10.54 million mobile phone users as of Apr 30, 2005. This is almost double the number of fixed telephone lines in the country and also explains the recent move by PTCL to offer free phone setup (previous story).

PTCL’s Executive VP, Mashkoor Hussain’s comments also explain the move by PTCL (which has a monopoly on fixed lines) to offer free connections:

“We have over 5 million subscribers in the country, We achieved this during the last 50 years but now we have a target to give two million more connections till December 2005.”

Other intersting market metrics from the article: the annual mobile phone market is growing at a staggering 120% anually. At present Mobilink leads the market share with 6.45 million subscribers, followed by Ufone with 2.2 million, Instaphone with 524,852 and Paktel with 308,629 subscribers. Norwegian company Telenor has attracted 653,170 customers in just two months.

Pakistan to start fighter aircraft production in 2007

Wednesday, May 11th, 2005

News sources have revealed that Pakistan will start joint-production of a light weight fighter aircraft with China in the first quarter of 2007. The JF-17 (also here) aircraft is based on the Russian MIG-21. It was designed and prototyped in China at an estimated cost of US$150 million, half of which has been funded by Pakistan. According to the agreement, full production should start at PAC Kamra in 2007 upon initial delivery of 8 aircrafts from China. The project will not only help in upgrading Pakistan’s aging aircraft fleet, but more importantly ‘it will help train the nation’s engineers and mechanics in the art of aircraft making’.

PTCL offers free connections under ‘Bilkul Muft scheme’

Monday, May 9th, 2005

PTCL’s ‘Bilkul Muft scheme’:

Under this scheme people would get new telephone connection by making a call at PTCL UAN number 111900900 if technically feasible the PTCL representative will visit the subscribers’ residence and after filing of new telephone connection form, the connection would be provided at subscriber’s residence.

Anyone called that number?

Additionally, they have also reduced the phone tariffs to Rs 3.50 per minute between any two cities in Pakistan. Last month they posted a profits of RS 21 billion. In parallel, PTCL plans to privatize 26% of their operations and is one of the heavy-weight tickers keeping the market bullish. Quite agressive.

Is the PTCL copper-wire infrastucture running through the city really worth that much? Maybe it’s the backbone that holds all this promise or maybe they are simply trying to set themselves up for high bids from foreign investors.