Archive for the ‘Telecom’ Category

KEDA agrees to cooperate with Police on stopping trading of stolen mobile phones

Sunday, July 10th, 2005

The Dawn reports that the Karachi Electronic Dealers Association (KEDA) has agreed to cooperate with the police in controlling the trading of stolen mobile phones. According to the article, the chief of police Karachi says that 80 percent of trading of all stolen mobile takes place in Karachi’s Saddar electronic market, which the KEDA represents. This partnership is a positive move by the KEDA after April’s violent encounter with the local police that ended with KEDA’s top leadership being taken into overnight custody.

Mobile phone snatching incidents are getting more frequent and violent in Karachi. The Police and KEDA’s joint initiative, the m:track mobile tracking system has not had much of an impact on the crime rate, maybe because it relies on the mobile phone seller’s voluntary participation into the program.

Can technology be used to eliminate this dangerous trend without having to rely on the local police’s brute force or the local mobile sellers’ honesty?

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.

UAE’s Etisalat wins PTCL bid

Saturday, June 18th, 2005

UAE based Etisalat has won a 26% stake in PTCL by offering a whooping $2.598 billion dollars or $1.96 per share. Etisalat’s bid overwhelmed China Mobile’s bid of $1.4 billion ($1.066 per share) and Singapore based SingTel’s bid of 1.16 billion ($0.88 per share). With this purchase Etisalat also gets 58% voting rights on the board of directors and a 26% stake of PTCLs profits. After the sale, the GoP now have a 62% stake in the company.

This is Etisalat’s first major acquisition since the UAE government announced an end to Etisalat’s telecom monopoly in UAE.

PTCL Strike reaches resolution, sale to continue

Wednesday, June 15th, 2005

An estimated 500 workers were detained while 29 were fired for threatening property damage. Union leader Shahid Ayub claimed some 200,000 phonelines were disrupted in southwestern and eastern Punjab province. Another fire in Lahore and a bomb in Balochistan to topple over a tower were amongst the attacks. Police claimed to have detained about 60 people in Lahore. Sabir Butt from the PTCL Employees Action Committee accused police of intimidating and harassing workers and their families.

Leghari claims the situation is under control during the launching ceremony of National IT Development and Promotion Unit (NIDU). Quite a shame that the launch of the IT development centre was overshadowed by issues surrounding PTCL. No details on the development centres in the news either. Anyways, Leghari stated, security was neccessitated at only 130 of the 3500 PTCL installations. Further, the strike was declared illegal by NIRC.

Yahoo provides some details:

Ali Qadir Gilani, a senior PTCL official, told Dow Jones Newswires that management and the leaders of PTCL Telecom Employees Union - the largest of the nine unions forming PTCL Action Committee - have reached a settlement to end a strike against a company stock sell-off set for Saturday.

PTCL management agreed to enhance workers’ pay by 35% instead of the previously announced 30% as well as increase other benefits for employees, such as education grants, Gilani said.

Shahid Ishaq Butt, a leader of the union, said the strike is being called off and the union won’t oppose privatization.

“We are now asking all employees to attend office in the larger interest of the country,” he said.

“We have accepted PTCL privatization because over 60% share would still be with the government even after divesting 26% stake,” Butt said.

Not the most ideal climate for privatizating and selling to foreign investors, a 26% chunk of the nations largest Telecom company which has a market cap of well over Rs.250 billion (about $US450 million) and comprises 15% of the weighted-average index of 100 shares. The stock is still holding out and the bid is still scheduled for the revised date of Jun 18 bringing to a hasty end, the 10-day standoff between 55,000 employees and 9 unions. The bidders are requested to deposit the money by Thursday (Rs40 million deposit).

Interesting turn of events. Is this the climate under which you would want to sell off a major stake in large company? Was all this trouble for a 5% increase in pay or is Shadhi Ishaq Butt (and the other 8 union leaders) a wealthier man? Or was this all military coercion?

Worldcall launches WLL service in Lahore, hopes to raise funds through IPO

Tuesday, June 7th, 2005

Business Recorder reports that WorldCall is hoping to raise Rs 690 million by holding an IPO end of June. This is a good time for the offering because of the recent launch of it’s Wireless Local Loop service in Lahore (links anyone?). The service features limited mobility (limited to a 6 km zone in urban areas as dictated by PTA), ability to send and receive SMS and internet access at fixed line prices. Worldcall currently has only one competitor in the WLL market, Telecard’s GO CDMA which opened shop in the beginning of this year.

PTCL going once, going twice … still not gone?

Tuesday, June 7th, 2005

PTCL’s row with the government shows no sign of letting up. DAWN reports that the PTCL union workers have given the government 24 hours to announce a package of over 3 billion rupees for employees and have threaten to call a countrywide strike if the demand was not met. That’s not all:

The deadline was given after a meeting between the committee and the management failed to make headway because PTCL President Junaid Khan made the package conditional with privatization. The union leaders wanted the announcement of the package without any compromise on the privatization issue, members of the action committee told Dawn.

The socialist party is covering this from the union’s point of view.

One has to wonder why the government wants to privatize it’s very rare cash cow (profits were Rs21 billion for the first 9 months of this year)? If they want to do something positive wouldn’t it be better to stop offering subsidies to PTCL and deregulate the telecom market?

Mobilink could be fined Rs350 million for poor service

Thursday, June 2nd, 2005

Dawn reports:

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has found “unsatisfactory” the reply submitted by Mobilink in response to the PTA show-cause notice issued in April.

The show-cause notice said: “The non-serious and non-cooperative attitude of the Mobilink towards the determination and directions issued by the Authority from time to time tantamount to severe violations by the Mobilink of the existing regulatory framework and is therefore not acceptable to the Authority.”

Mobilink will now be attending a hearing on June 9 at the PTA headquarters in Islamabad. If Mobilink’s argument does not hold up, they could face a levy of Rs350 million or termination of their license (highly doubt that).

This is not the first time and the last time in 2003 resulted in a fine of Rs60 million which obviously didn’t yield up any improvements. If the cost of customer support (and addressing those concerns) for 2 years is greater than Rs60 million, then they could simply write it off as an operating expense. It should be urged that they are fined the full amount this time around to have a significant impact and set a precedent.

How do they still manage to have the largest subscriber base? Why haven’t any class action lawsuits been filed?

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.