The Annoyance Spread

autopilot profitPTCL has quietly enabled a voice mail service on high revenue land line customers without seeking their consent. It is a clear bid to make revenue on unsuccessful (due to no answer or busy state) calls. This has widely been reported across the press and in the local telecom blogosphere. The process of disabling the answering service has also been published at various forums.

But this is all we already know. However, as we recover from the long Eid and 18th October tragedy and business gets back in full swing, the annoyance is now starting to show its real spread.

Most businesses get a telephone bill more than Rs 1,400 a month – the minimum amount arbitrarily set by PTCL to have the answering service enabled. Most of the business phone lines are often busy and have lots of customers call to these places all the time. With the ‘annoyance’ in place, each time someone calls the number, he hears a useless voice mail prompt (which, interestingly, is useless in a multi-user environment – voice mail services are always personal services) and gets charged for.

With millions of ‘engaged calls’ now turning into ‘matured calls’ (for the purpose of billing), this is proving to be a unique/ugliest idea (depending on which side of the fence you are) that plays on the muscles of PTCL’s might and the helplessness of the consumers.

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PakistanTelecom & Economy Indicators

Amir Rajput has posted an interesting analysis of the ‘Telecommunication Indicators’ recently published by PTA. The figures (economic_growth.pdf) in the analysis conclude that most of the economic growth being recorded in Pakistan is attributed to the Telecom sector.

Wateen’s Wireless Service

Shakeel Ahmed, friend and a regular contributor at TGP, has the following clip and quick information to share about Wateen’s wireless service in Lahore. The video clip shows a sneak peek by way of the synchronization process of the Motorolla CPE.

CPE was installed in DHA Lahore and has one ethernet + voice port on it. Download speed is around 120-130KBps with next hop latency around 15-20ms.

You can find some previous discussion on the wireless service by Wateen at TGP archives.

More Subs than ’02 voters!

Pakistan now has 70 million mobile subscribers . This is more than the 67 million registered voters (population above 18 years of age) as of the 2002 general elections (see page 7 of the statistics report [pdf] of the ECP). This, at least in theory, means that the 2007 elections, if held as scheduled, will see every voter carrying a cellular phone.

It seems logical that just this factor can have a significant impact on Pakistan’s politics – at least in terms of the urban votes. So why does carrying a phone by every voter mean anything to our politics? Consider this:

  • People are now talking to each other more than ever – between newer and remotest of the places.
  • The (presumably young and literate) population sent over a billion text messages (just on the Eid day alone) a lot of it containing political contents and opinions
  • Politics is coming of the TV age to enter the world of cellular activism – remember the heat the lawyers community was able to generate with their campaign recently?

Pakistan’s political scene remains ridden with question marks but what is certain that an urban population more aware than ever will be affected by the deep cellular penetration and text messaging. The next elections will have effects of this ‘connected population’ for sure. The smarter of the political lot will take their battle to this new front for the upcoming polls.

Juniper mulling Backoffice in Pakistan

Update: I have been grossly mistaken in putting up this blog post. The company in this report is NOT Juniper networks but a start up called ‘Paxterra’. Paxterra has been formed by a senior Juniper Networks staff who recently left the networking giant to form the new company. The company, among other things, will be getting contractual work from Juniper Networks and intends to get it done locally in Pakistan. So while the headline of this post has proven to be grossly wrong, there is still some original excitement in the news. The confusion was caused because my contact at Juniper Network broke this news to me and the way the dialog progressed, I mistook Paxterra for Juniper. I am sorry. 

p.s: The openings are still there and local Pakistani resources are welcome in this new venture.

Juniper Networks Some senior Juniper Networks’  staff might end up opening a technology back-office in Pakistan. The project, very small right now, can prove to be a great news for the nascent but budding IT and Telecommunication industry of Pakistan.

It is interesting to note that despite considerable sales that Juniper Networks has recently made in the otherwise invisible-on-the-sales-map Pakistan, this is NOT a sales office. Some patriotic and situation-aware Juniper guys have managed to convince the company to have a back end technology office in Pakistan. This is reportedly for the stress testing and other iterative testing jobs for which good engineers are readily available in Pakistan.

If this goes through and continues to grow, from a strategic view point, Pakistan will move upwards the value chain of the BPO business. Let us hope for the best!

Eid Mubarak!

Eid GreetingsA very warm and personal Eid Greetings to all the visitors of this blog.

May this Eid bring all the joys and blessings to you and your loved ones.

Let us remember those around us who are less fortunate and be a source of joy for them too.

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PTCL Plagiarism

ptcl-copy-paste-jobPTCL recently launched a new dial-up Internet service called Phone n Net that will allow direct access to Internet from any PTCL land line telephone connection with the billing to take place along with the monthly bill of PTCL. The service, which made smaller ISPs go obviously nervous, was apparently rushed out before Eid holidays. PTCL, it seems, just felt lazy and copy pasted part of the technical contents from the website of competition World Online (WOL). [See snap shot of the PTCL with its pants down on the right.] Here are the original WOL FAQs. [Credits: Shaheer picked this up and mentioned it in one of his posts at TGP.]

school.jpgEarlier, Rizwan, a visitor of this blog, commented that this picture at the PTCL website is also copied from an ad in the UK. We are not sure but then there is no reason to rule this out either. Fellow KMB blogger Zainab had recently done a piece on plagiarism in the Pakistani blogosphere but it seems that the practice is just too common in our homeland. And more disturbing than the prevalence of the practice is the lack of any shame associated with this.