VSAT Hubs Mushroom

Pak Datacom is announcing that they are installing an iDirect VSAT hub.

Insufficient fiber and other wired infrastructure, limited range of existing terrestrial wireless technologies and a boom in ICT industry in Pakistan is causing an upsurge in the satellite services.

Banks and other financial institutions are one of the major drivers for remote area data connectivity market. New initiatives by the Government to introduce electronic management in its working is the often considered as the second largest factor driving the satellite services consumption in Pakistan.

Modern VSAT hubs are intelligent entities that make better use of the expensive and scarce satellite bandwidth resources by intelligently distributing the same to a large number of customers that are equipped with smart satellite terminals – costs of which is coming down as third-party CPEs made to a number of standards are getting cheaper. Installation cost and complexity for the remote sites is also coming down allowing better confidence towards the service by the end customer.

Lately, a number of network service providers have installed VSAT Hubs to service the growing data services sector. Supernet (iDirect), Comstar, Pak Datacom (wing of PTCL) and Multinet all have either installed or are in the process of installing VSAT hubs to complement their existing wired and wireless services.

The explosive growth of cellular services in Pakistan has resulted in the companies’ new quest to reach the untapped rural markets and in the absence of optical fiber backhaul, VSAT backhaul have picked up big times. Mobilink, Ufone and Telenor all have placed huge orders of VSAT backhuals for their base stations in far flung areas such as FATA and Azad Jammu Kashmir. The volume of the business has taken the otherwise go-slow network service providers by surprise and in certain cases, single orders placed by the cellular giants have been comparable with the annual volume of business done by the network service provider.

50 paisas only!

“The market will dive down to the ’50 paisas per minute, anywhere in Pakistan’ level – in five years. ” These were the ‘prophetic’ words that were ‘very in’ two years ago when two additional licenses were given to Warid and Telenor in Pakistan. Telecom executives would announced this to each other. Little did they know that they are only half correct. The 50 paisa per minute anywhere would come but that would not take the whole five years!

The competition in the Pakistani cellular sector is fueling the price war like never before. Although the ‘aath anay’ (old local term for half a rupee) milestone is still not here, the prices have come down to a point where the marketeers of the services can bring in the 50 paisa mention in their sales pitches with fine prints telling us that this is for 30 seconds, on-net and/or for close user groups of friends and families.

CMPak (previously known as Paktel) announced their new package plans which flashes the 50 paisas rate.

CMPak Limited – formerly Paktel and China Mobile’s first venture outside China ñhas introduced a new tariff package named “Power Package”, said a statement on Monday.

It said the package offered its subscribers 50paisas per 30 seconds (on net) the lowest call rates in the market – from 7 pm to 10 pm. Moreover a customer can enjoy three (on-net) friends and family numbers for the same rate throughout the day, it added.

Lower rates, while a welcome news to the subscribers, would also mean that operators would have to be vigilant on their spendings and accurate in their planning and execution.  This would also mean that the operators would have to pay attention to value added services and other revenue enhancers.

CMPak’s Investements – Insomania for Mobilink?

AFP is carrying a report that mentions CMPak’s resolve to invest another $500 million in its Pakistan operations. Rural penetration is being cited as one of the main components of the expansion thrust:

World’s biggest telecom operator China mobile having 320 million subscribers in China plans to invest another $ 500 million next year as the investment atmosphere is very conducive here. Executive Director China Mobile Pakistan Sikandar Naqvi Thursday told CNBC channel that a sum of $ 1.2 billion has already been invested in Pakistan.

This, read along with the statement from the China Mobile Chairman that China Mobile sees their Pakistan operations as a valuable experience for its subsequent international ventures, will surely put the existing big boys of cellular services in Pakistan like Mobilink and Ufone on high-alert and may be give them sleepless nights.

Pakistan Post Plans Paper Email Service

Pakistan Post is reportedly facing a 20% volume decrease every year. This could directly be attributed to the penetration of modern communication means such as cellular telephony and Internet.  The state owned organization is now planning a new service that would allow users to send messages to their loved ones in remote areas using a website of Pakistan Post. The message will than be sent via Pakistan Post’s traditional network of paper mail to these areas.

India launched this service (called ePost) 4 years ago.  So much for innovative thinking.

Enroll In Pakistan Telecom Grid

If you enjoy reading local technology blogs like this one (or this, or this, or this, or this, or this) and enjoy contributing information and commentary on the same, we are building up a mailing group and we are calling it Pakistan Telecom Grid. The group membership is open to all and other blog authors (like Babar, Mustafa and Sajjad and anyone else who care to join) will be upgraded as managers so that we’ve a collective stewardship of the collection.

About the group: An informal grid of Telecommunication and Network Services professionals and insiders of Pakistan. Inspired from the fact that the collective authors and respective audience of the relatively few technology blogs that relate to Pakistan can be team up as a virtual pool of guys with an interested in communications technologies. This assembly can be used to enhance social interaction between the members, get-together events, private discussions, rumor sharing and rumor milling ;) etc.

Join in now.

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A Billion Dollar Game

Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI), as quoted by Dialy Times, says that Pakistan imported cellular phones worth $ 1 billion during the current fiscal year.

A few days ago, Daily Times was reporting that Pakistan imported cell phone worth just around $780,000 which was clearly illogical.

CMPak – South Goes to Ericsson

Ericsson is announcing that CMPak (formerly Paktel) has awarded its expansion project in the south of Pakistan to the company. Ericsson will provide GSM and microwave transmission network equipment to CMPak for its expansion project that will cover 312 cities of Sindh and Baluchistan that form the southern part of Pakistan.

CMPak has awarded the expansion project of northern wing of its network  to Alcatel-Lucent that we covered here. 

The news bodes well for the industry in terms of more jobs in the sector particularly in the outsourced contract projects segment. The news also mean that increased network capacity will drive down the cost for the consumer due to increased competition and force the cellular operators to focus more on value added services on their network beyond just voice.

Let us hope Mr Leghari can lure in cellular manufacturers to start making terminals in Pakistan so that the import bill for these terminals can be minimized

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