Certainly Not Journalism!

Daily Times is back with a rejoinder (registration required to read Daily Times [smarties can use bugmenot {firefox ext here} to bypass such absurd restrictions on news portals) on Wateen and its CEO. The battle that we discussed earlier here and here is getting uglier and uglier. While its fun reading such stuff in a lunch-less Ramadan day, it is technology journalism that is getting hurt. That press and media always have influential groups behind them who ’tilt’ the stuff the way that suits their ends is a known fact. However, there is a big difference between being suggestive and crude pin-pointing.

Only if there could have been a sprinkle of journalistic balance in this article, it would have made a far more interesting industry account of contemporary Pakistani Telecom market.

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Bandwidth Tariffs – PTA’s Fresh Determination

PTA has issued Determination on 5th October 2006 on Bandwidth Tariffs offered by PTCL. You can grab your copy of the determination (53 pages, ~1 MB) from here. PTA’s website has a nice summary of the same here.

This determination is the conclusive part of the industry consultation process that PTA started in early September 2006.

Juice:

  1. PTCL has been made to reduce prices of IPLCs further. Tariffs for ISPs/Data Operators (read customers) and Voice / LDI operators (read competitors) are still different except the difference has narrowed down. Cost of half-circuits for high capacity IPLCs will, for the first time, fall under the $100K figure. Under $52K, an Voice or an ISP operator can now get an STM-1 (155 MB). This is high impact item. If even a few providers opt for leased international STM1 capacities, Pakistan will get some much-needed network-layer diversification. Yes, we will still be travelling on the same media (SMW3 / SMW4) but we should fare much better against DoS attacks and network config problems with this diversification.
  2. IP Transit services are still differentiated based on usage (something most of the people except PTCL disagreed with). However, the new reduced rates are welcome. For example, an ISP could now get STM1 capacity (155 MB) for around $47K as against $60K previously.
  3. PTCL has been asked to provide contention based (1:2) transit Internet services @ $1,000 per E1. This is in accordance with the point 6 of the recommendation I gave (full recommendation here). With lots of OFAN customers getting on-board, this is one enforced-decision that PTCL should actually be happy about. A good decision that PTCL was not taking on its own has now been forced on it. This is again, high impact. At these rates, lots of smaller ISPs that serve business customers will now be faced with a competitive price of $500 per MB while the going rate in the market is around $800 per MB.
  4. It will still cost a Voice operator $238K (down from $361K) to subscribe to 155 MB of transit Internet in Islamabad that could be used for VoIP.
  5. DPLC (Domestic Leased Private Circuits) costs have been slashed down by 20% to 30%.

What to Expect:

  1. PTCL crying foul once again with the Ministry of IT & T and/or moving legal courts against PTA’s determination.
  2. PTCL’s IP gear enforcing voice/non-voice usages on high-capacity circuits to face hickups and even getting tripped when large number of STM1 circuits get loaded. And, in the longer run,
  3. Better DSL and cable modem experiences

Ramadan Rumours

Day-times during Ramadan are generally lunch-free with faithfuls fasting. But this does not keeps from interesting rumours from being crafted and moving around.

One such news rumour is that GSM giant Mobilink is/will/might acquire dominant stakes in Cybernet – one of the leading local Internet service providers. While insiders are generally confirming the rumour various details are being provided depending on whom you are talking to.

Cybernet has been a chief provider of Internet services to Mobilink. The dramatic exit of three or four top seat employees of Cybernet last month has created quite a stir in the local market. From employees to customers, there had been wide ranging speculations as well as a general anticipation of more-upsets-to-come. At that time, the sudden changes were attributed to some rift between the higher employed-management and the group financiers.

<rumour-dissection>Mobilink (read Orascom) is certainly focused on diversifying its portfolio. Not only did they create multiple companies to support the core voice operations of Mobilink, the diversification has gone into real-estate purchases, cement industries and even GSM Terminal Support services such as the one offered under brand name of Ring. A deal to acquire top-placed Internet service provider is quite in-line with their strategy. The Intel Capital’s fund aimed towards spreading of the Wimax adoption worldwide (and reportedly sized around $100 million) has gone into various Telecom holding companies including Orascom. Mobilink is one of the darlings of Orascom as compared to its other regional ventures and that significant portion of this fund will go into Mobilink is quite likely. Once Mobilink has a Wimax offering, it will definetly need a platform (license, brand, users, channel sales network etc) to toy with its beyond-the-voice ideas. There couldn’t have been a better choice than Cybernet.</rumour-dissection>

One of the interesting twist that is being associated with the current Ramadan rumour is that the very team that was quit Cybernet in a hurry is coming back now sporting Mobilink’s badges to run the company. Well, if this is true, this is what we can call Dramas in Life!