Archive for July, 2005

Pakistan blocked from contests

Friday, July 8th, 2005

CSIDC (Computer Science International Design Competition) is held every year in Washington D.C. for three days - it provides an opportunity for undergraduates from all over the world to participate in a design contest, and invites the top ten teams to D.C. to present their ideas to a panel of international industry judges. For the three years, Pakistan (e.g. LUMS, SSUET) has continually been selected as one of the top ten teams. This year (’05), “Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology” (SSUET) was selected for the top ten, but unfortunately they couldn’t participate in the final round due to visa difficulties. Last year, two team members made it to D.C. on the 2nd day of the competition and one member wasn’t able to get a visa at all. It’s quite irritating that our country can’t do anything to expedite the process. Are there any ideas that how to prevent this situation from happening again? These past experiences are not going to encourage new teams to participate for upcoming contests.

PTA pushes to introduce 3G for cell phones

Thursday, July 7th, 2005

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority [] is ramping up efforts to introduce 3G technology [] for mobile phones in Pakistan. The PTA recently gave a presentation [] on moving current networks from 2G to 3G technology to PTA officials, representatives of PTCL, mobile and fixed line operators, telecom experts and students.

While explaining the importance of 3G technology, Gen. Shahzada (ed - Chairman PTA) said that PTA was putting every endeavor to bring home latest cellular mobile technologies including the 3rd Generation. He said that it has always been difficult to introduce new telecommunication methods and technologies but like in the past, PTA would facilitate all operators to switch over to the latest technologies.

Pakistan currently has 2.5G based networks and according to the PTA and this [] the switch to 3G will require a lot of effort and money because of the underlying infrastructure change. The main benefit in moving to a 3G network is higher data transmission rates. The increase in bandwidth is substantial, from a maximum of 128kpbs in existing 2.5G networks to up to 2mpbs-10mpbs in 3G networks.

Damage from internet outage

Monday, July 4th, 2005

A story running on NewKerala estimates some figures on the impact of the internet outage in the range of 40-60 million dollars (revised to 1.5 million dollars). There are 40 call centres with 3000-3500 people in their employ. One of the call centres claimed they had complete outage for 3 days and 10% bandwidth on the fourth day. The best bit:

The paper quoted Wahaj-us-Siraj, an IT and Telecom expert, as saying: “It has been a criminal negligence on part of the PTCL as well as the government. They knew about the likelihood of such a fault in the cable that was the sole provider for the entire country’s linkage to the outside world.”

A class action lawsuit seems to be in order here.

The current status is that the repair work has started. The repair is being performed by a Etisalat which won the PTCL bid (overbid actually by more than $1 billion, coming out ~80% on top of next highest bidder) for a 26% profit sharing stake and 58% voting rights just 9 days before the outage. Wierd coincidence. Could Etisalat have something to gain from this outage? Doesn’t a bid topping the competitor by more than 1 billion dollars seem conspicuous?

Update (5 Jul, 2005): Dawn reports that the actual repairs have not yet started. Currently the repair crew aboard Niva are still trying to localize the faults (initially localized to a 5 kilometre using sonic testing and electroding). India, Djibouti, Oman and the United Arab Emirates will be affected by the repairs and have agreed to a 2 hour downtime during repairs.