Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

Undersea cable lands at Karachi

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2005

After becoming the laughing stock of the world (along with economic losses going into Millions of dollars) when losing internet connectivity to the entire country and not having a backup line, we finally recieve a new undersea optic fibre cable. Hopefully this solves the peoples problems of bandwidth along with affordability.

The Jang reports,

Transworld Associates (TWA), Pakistan’s first private undersea optic fibre cable operator, announced today that its undersea optic fibre cable system, TWA-1, has landed at its cable landing station in Karachi.

With direct cable landings in Karachi , Fujairah (UAE) and Al Seeb (Oman), the TWA-1 undersea optic fibre network would offer end-to-end, direct broadband, high-speed connectivity to Pakistan’s growing number of telecom operators, internet service providers, and corporate customers, a press release said.

Speaking on the occasion, Kamran Malik, Chief Operating Officer TWA, said, “This is a proud moment for Pakistan considering that we are the first Pakistani-owned submarine cable system.”

Read the rest of the article at Jang.

The Man Who Will Save the Internet

Monday, November 14th, 2005

From the register comes the story of the Pakistani who will save the internet and the politics behind it. For those living under a rock, it’s related to the World Summit on the Information Society being held in Tunisia and primarily the controversies behind Internet Governance.

It’s been four years since the issue of how the internet should be run, and by whom, became an official United Nations topic.

And yet despite hundreds of hours of talks, three preparatory meetings and a world summit, there is only one thing that the world’s governments can agree on: Masood Khan, Pakistan’s ambassador.

If a certain US senator and a certain EU commissioner are to be believed, the internet is five days away from total collapse as governments are finally forced into a corner and told to agree on a framework for future Internet governance.

Both are wrong, but there is a very real risk that an enormous political argument resulting in lifelong ill-will centred around the internet could developed unchecked at the WSIS Summit.

The fact that it hasn’t already is effectively down to one man: Mr Khan. He was chosen as chair of Sub-Committee A during the WSIS process, and his remit includes all the most difficult and contentious elements - not just internet governance but also how the world will deal with issues such as spam and cybercrime.

Even though press attention has focussed on the undecided question of control of the internet, at the start of the process there were widely varying views on just about every aspect of the internet.

And yet through a mixture of careful, respectful and open dialogue, occasional prodding and a dry sense of humour, Masood Khan has turned what could easily have become a bar-room brawl into a gradual formation of agreement.

Read the rest of the article here.


Sunday, October 30th, 2005

The web host for had a hardrive failure and the last backup they had went back to August resulting in a loss of quite a few posts. Google did have the cache of the posts for some time, but they seem to have updated their index and cache and the posts are lost.

We apologize for the loss and are taking measures to do routine backups of the database to avoid such a failure in the future.

Still no relief for ISPs and LDIs from PTC

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2005

Dawn reports two meetings between PTCL, Ministry of IT and industry ISPs have ended without resolution. ISPs and LDIs are demanding $43m compensation for the outages in the form of free internet bandwidth for 40 days. PTCL is only settling on 10 days.

The outage itself was much longer than 10 days. Second, a single days outage simply cannot be compensated by a single day’s worth of free bandwidth since losses from a one-day outage are more far reaching than just the lost bandwidth.

PTCL is still sticking to its guns, saying they are not under any obligation to compensate for the outage. The ISPs, however, may still be liable to their customers who deserve compensation for the outage. The ISPs claim they should recieve 4 days for every free day given to customers since the bandwidth ~25% of the operating costs (others being salaries, rental, collocation, marketing etc).

Is your ISP compensating you? Should ISPs be compensated or should this simply be considered the cost of doing business in Pakistan and taken away from their profit margins as an operating expense?

Compensation demanded for internet losses

Tuesday, July 12th, 2005

Dawn reports that the ISPs, Long Distance and International (LDIs) call centres are seeking compensation of $43 million for the 10 day internet outage, while PTCL claims that legally they are not obliged to pay anything at all. The LDIs which bring on average 10 million minutes of international traffic per month claimed losses of $7.35 million, ISPs claimed $7 million and the IT industry $3.6 million (although these figures don’t add up to $43 million).

The enraged also claimed that PTCL, instead of spending $10 million on satellite backup every year could have simply invested $20 million in an alternative fibre-optic cable.

Sucks to be a call centre in Pakistan.

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.

Pakistan’s net connection to the world goes down

Monday, June 27th, 2005

One of Pakistan’s main pipes to the global internet, the SEAMEWE-3 cable developed a fault on Monday at about 9pm Pakistan standard time. As of 11:30pm engineering at ITI informed me that the relevant parties were still trying to locate the fault, and there was no ETA on the fix. The fault has caused major data congestion on the few backup satellite uplinks Pakistan has to the outside world resulting in extremely slow to no connectivity in the entire region.

Update 12:38am: Seems like this is problem is not localized to Pakistan, it is also affecting India and Singapore’s bandwidth (and possibly everyone else who depends on SEAMEWE-3). ITI informs me that the SEAMEWE consortium is investigating this issue. Also – SEAMEWE-3 is Pakistan’s main pipe to the global internet.

Update 8:22am: Still no word on what the problem is or the ETA for the fix. All ITI says (or knows) is that work in on-going to fix the fault. They continue to work off backup satellites. Connection speed early morning (4am - 6am) was decent (60kbytes/sec on a 1mbs direct ITI link), presumably because of off peak hours. At the time of writing the 1mbs link is transferring at about 10kbytes/sec or about 10% of its capacity. It will probably get worse as the country wakes up and starts hitting the net.

Update 9:21am (Wednesday): Just spoke to an engineer in Islamabad (some guy from ITI Karachi gave me the number). The cable has not been repaired yet and Pakistan is still working off backup satellites. Apparently the repair crew is ready to fix cable fault, but has not received the green signal by all the countries who’s bandwidth will be effected by the repair operation (mostly countries in Asia and some in Europe). This story is also being covered on Slashdot as well as other sources .

Another interesting issue - Air Blue, a Pakistani airline carrier says that the fault has caused huge losses for them because they depend on their online reservation system for most of their business.

Corrected: It is SEAMEWE-3 cable that developed the fault, not SME-3.

Update 11:27pm (Wednesday): Just spoke to an engineer at ITI again. He confirmed what the local media is saying about repairs taking atleast 4-5 days and even as long as week. According to him, the repair crew has not reached the site yet, once they do they will need to physically trace the cable along the seabed and see what kind of damage has been done to it. Meanwhile, 3 backup E3 connections (one E3 connection is 33mbp/s I am told) have been deployed to cope with the bandwidth, though that doesn’t even meet half the bandwidth requirements of the Karachi at offpeak hours.

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.