the-south-asian.com July / August 2006
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Pakistan – Markets in Telecomm Convergent Technologies
the Special report undertaken for the-south-asian.com. The abstracts will be published in parts over the next year. The complete unabridged report is available to interested readers for U.S. $300.00
First published in October 2003
CONNECTIVITY = PRODUCTIVITY
8.0 1997- Pakistan Data Networks
By 1997, PTCL had also started to introduce Data Networks & X.25 packet swiitching networks with dial-up facilities for corporate customers. This was called "Paknet" and was built using SPRINT’s TP 4900 and TP 3000 X.25 switches. PTCL staff was sent to SPRINT’s Operations and Engineering, Packet Data Services in Reston, Virginia for the network’s operations and engineering training. However, PTCL being a public sector culture was unable to operate, maintain and market this network and sub-contracted the maintenance to Gulfnet Pvt.Ltd., a Karachi [ now Islamabad ] based telecoms and software engineering company. Later a separate company was formed by the name of Pak Datacomm under the umbrella of Pakistan Telecom Foundation, which similar in nature to the Fauji Foundation was meant to provide a business entity which could provide opportunities for retired & experienced PTCL staff. Gulfnet carried out the initial education of a voice-oriented PTCL engineering staff, who were explained the concept of value added services [voice–mail, E-mail, etc].
These X.25 data networks were later to change their hardware composition from SPRINT’s switches to Alcatel as SPRINT sold its equipment making groups to Alcatel and became a pure infrastructure carrier. Nortel switches eventually replaced the Alcatel switches similar to the case at SPRINT-USA .The Paknet network changed from being a X.25 analog based leased circuits network to a fiber optic based frame–relay digital network by 1999. This development was in parallel with the PTCL Fiber Optic backbone [ Peshawar, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Karachi] and ribs [ connection to secondary cities along the Backbone such as Faislabad, Sialkot, Gujranwala, Hyderabad, Sukkur , Quetta, etc.
Pak Datacom Limited (PDL)
Pak DataCom was split from PTCL in 1999 to look after the Data networks side of PTCL. Pak Datacom Limited (PDL), which commenced operations as a subsidiary of Telecom Foundation in July 1994, developed and established its credibility to great extent in a span of only one year so that its shares, when floated at the stock market in 1995, were over subscribed by more than 48 times despite a premium of Rs. 15 on a share of Rs. 10.
The Network established by Pak Datacom Ltd. employs a number of technologies which include terrestrial, radio and satellite based systems. Optical fibre is used for terrestrial trunk circuits, VSATs and bigger satellite systems for alternate trunks. More than 65 VSATs and five large Satellite Stations have been installed till 1996 and are in operation in the Network. During 1997, more VSATs were under installation.
The company has been successful in establishing a high speed and reliable data network and provided satisfactory service to a large number of corporate organisations. Most of the Banks in the country, News Agencies, Airline Services, Government Organisations and other multinationals are using the network for their data communication needs.
The company has grown successfully and the number of circuits and subscribers have increased steadily. In the second year of its operations (July 95-June 96), the company earned an after tax profit of Rs. 18.78 million as against an after tax profit of Rs. 11.99 million for the same period the previous year.
Pak Datacom Limited is the pioneer in Pakistan in providing high speed data communication circuits both within the country and abroad. Pak Datacom Ltd. is also the first company providing data networks via Optical Fibre, Packet Switching and VSAT technologies.
Pak Datacom Ltd. has been selected by the Govt. of Bangladesh to set up their data communication network. Pak Datacom Ltd. is therefore the only International Data Network operation in Pakistan. Pak Datacom has also successfully extended international agreements with a number of satellite providers as well as with a number of international operations in the world. Pak Datacom is therefore in a position to provide data circuits to all corners of the Globe.
Pak Datacom Limited has established a Data Network by the name of TRANSLINK, which employs a number of technologies to provide high speed and reliable data communication service. It employs the technologies of Satellite Systems VSATs, Optical Fibre, Packet Switches, Frame Relay, Digital E1 add/drop and cross connect equipment, TDMA and Speed Spectrum Vedio. These all have been interfaced to form one homogenous network which transparently provides high quality data services to users. Pak Datacom Limited also plans to provide value added services of E-Mail, Fax and Video Conferencing. The company is installing a large 9.0 meter trackable antenna and high powered Satellite Earth Station in Karachi. This will provide a large capacity of direct circuits and will help in revenue and profit growth in the future.
a) IN 1997, the Arfeeen Group decided to enter the Telecoms market as a main infrastructure player. Their second telecoms project after their mobile cellular "Instaphone" project was SuperNet consisting of Newbridge Data switches using Frame-Relay Technology and Linking the main Pakistani cities using leased lines from the PTCL..
b) Comstar ISA : It's a joint venture between Comsat RSI Corp. (USA) and a couple of local investors. This company specializes in VSAT satellite data circuits for wide area connectivity and for metropolitan areas networks it uses wireless radio modems. -Subscriber base: 14
c) Supernet PDS -Subscriber base: 27
d) Fascom -Subscriber base: 9
e) Acsys -Subscriber base: 4
f) Abacus --Awaiting installation
Most of the banks in the country, news agencies, airlines, oil companies, and other multinational corporations and government agencies are now using these networks for their data.
9.0 VOICE TELEPHONE SERVICE
Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) is the dominant telecommunication carrier in the country with a monopoly on fixed lines, domestic and international services. It owns a PDH based fiber optic backbone transmission network in the country. PTCL has been given a 25-year (renewable) license by the PTA for providing basic telephone services. The company enjoys a tax holiday till 30th June 1999 and monopoly on service until the year 2003- March.
PTCL has a fairly extensive network in the major urban areas. It has a total installed capacity of 3.2 million lines; 2.6 million of which are operational. Approximately 85% percent of PTCL's network is digital. A large number of switching equipment/exchanges installed at PTCL is made by Siemens Germany in collaboration with Telephone Industries of Pakistan at a factory jointly owned by Siemens and PTCL. It also uses Alcatel and Ericsson exchanges at international gateways. Currently all new digital telephone exchanges [ as well as multiplexing equipment [ DWMD – dense wave multiplexing division- to further enhance existing fiber capacity] are being supplied by Hua Wei and ZTE, both Chinese telecom equipment makers, with prices at one-fourth the price of western telecom equipment .
PTCL has three operational gateway exchanges; one at Karachi and two at Islamabad. The international gateway exchanges have "C-7/SS7 " Intelligent Network [ out-of-Band Signalling ] and a capacity of 8,000 international circuits, about half of which are operational.
10.0 De-Regulation Policy , Expressions of Interest for PTCL 25% privatization.
The PTCL de-regulation policy for new operators to enter the voice telephony [ based on land lines or fixed wireless ] has been completed and is available from the www.pta.com.pk web site. It basically allows telecom operators to operate local calls [ called the local loop- LL] and the International and long distance [ LDI] telephony sectors. The license costs for the LL is US $ 10,000 and that for the LDI is US$ 100,000 . In addition to prevent non-serious players from entering the market there is a US $ 10 million performance bond. The Government is considering the entry of a fifth player in the mobile wireless sector .
The existing four mobile wireless operators have been issued the permission to operate without expensive Frequency spectrum licenses from the Government in an effort to start mobile telephony in 1990’s . The entry of a fifth operator will complicate matters and so consultants have been busy preparing this report .
The material presented so far covers almost 95 % of the Pakistan Telecom sector . Defense Networks have been left out and it believed that VSAT Satellite networks came into service in 1990. A separate report that will cover the Banking sector will also highlight a telecom market sector that has had a very old working relationship with Telecoms. This will be added in the near future by October end 2003. It will cover the current banking telecom networks. A
number of exciting opportunities and developments are taking place in the Banking sector. Traditionally Pakistani Bankers have been extremely professional and have now come back to revive this sector.
A new Commodities exchange is planned and with it new liquidity and efficiencies will start to take place in the agricultural sector as well. In addition the Airlines sector has also been a very advanced user of telecom networks such as SITA , now Equant , and the various airline reservation systems will also be covered.
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