PTA ends PTCL’s Internet bandwidth monopoly
Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) has decided to allow the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and DSL operators to buy Internet bandwidth from backbone operators other than PTCL, thus settling a two years row of ISPs versus PTCL.
ISPs had been complaining to PTA to amend their DSL Interconnect Agreement with the PTCL signed during the monopoly days of PTCL a few years ago, in which ISPs were restricted to procure Internet bandwidth from PTCL only. Since telecom deregulation in 2004, new operators have laid their infrastructure nationally as well as internationally, and two years back, the second alternate backbone provider, TWA, started its services in the country. But, DSL operators who are the major purchasers of Internet bandwidth were restrained by their unilateral agreement with PTCL not to buy bandwidth from any operator other than PTCL.
PTA, after a series of negotiations, has finally issued the minutes of the meeting held between ISPAK (Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan) and PTCL in PTA on May 5, 2009 in which it was decided that ISPs will be free to buy Internet bandwidth from third party operators. PTA has also decided that PTCL will not increase charges of its leased circuits used by DSL operators for inter-exchange bandwidth for the next one year.
Pakistan has come a long way from the early days of Internet in the 1990s with only one submarine cable connecting the country with the rest of the word. Presently, there are three submarine cables linking Karachi with South East Asia, Europe and North America; namely SWM3, SMW4 and TWA; the first two are with PTCL and the third, with a private operator. The total Internet bandwidth to the country stands at around 18 Gigabits, growing at around 45% every year in the last three years.
Pakistan safe for investment, policies are enabling: says Huawei
Pakistan is safe for investment and its growth in telecom is highly impressive, according to a statement released by one of the world’s leading telecom solutions provider. “We have found policies of Pakistan very friendly towards local as well as foreign investors and we plan to boost our investments here,” said Mr. Qiu Xuefeng, Deputy President, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.
He said this while talking to Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President Pakistan Economy Watch, who was on a visit to Huawei’s global core network workshop to acknowledge the company’s contribution towards the development of telecom sector. Mr. Qiu Xuefeng informed him that core network solutions are the key to operational excellence, the foundation for increasing revenues from new services and the backbone of service specialisation. “We want to share our achievements in with telecom operators of Pakistan who are neck-to-neck with top operators of the world,” he said.
Presently one billion people are benefiting from Huawei’s technologies. While calling Huawei a long-term strategic partner, Dr. Mughal emphasised that Pakistan offers vast investment opportunities in the telecom sector as it is the most connected country in South Asia, with the highest teledensity. Pakistan has the world’s largest WiMAX network while it has one of the world’s most aggressive Fibre-to-Home rollouts.
Mobilink launches GPS services
Mobilink has taken location services, previously launched by other mobile operators, a step further by introducing Mobi Track. Mobi Track offers real-time GPS navigation services custom-made for the Pakistani user. Through Mobi Track, one can search an address, navigate through cities (only Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore for the time being, with other cities soon to be added) or locate any place, all through one’s mobile handset. There are interactive maps and satellite tracking, so if one finds themselves in unfamiliar terrain, there’s no need to panic! Mobilink is offering a free 5-day trial for this service presently.
However, for Blackberry and iPhone users, this service might be slightly less useful as the Google Maps and Google Lattitude applications on these handsets offers similar services for free. These apps are a little less custom-made as compared to Mobi Track, as the latter lists shops, ATMs, hospitals, restaurants, etc. and you can hold the phone in your hand while driving and follow the arrows to get to your destination.