More details are emerging on the new broadband infrastructure that PTCL has been working on. Daily Times says in a report that the project cost for the Optical Fiber Access Network was $58 million (Rs 3.5 billion) and that PTCL plans to offer triple play services on the new infrastructure with as many as 250 IPTV channels, voice lines and faster Internet access all for Rs 1,500 ($25) per month. [Let us hope they put all this together before stuff like Joost takes away most of the juice out of regular TV and channels!]
The network will continue to be build beyond the three key cities of Karachi, Lahore and Islambad:
PTCL plans to expand the service in phases across the country. During the first phase, the company will provide the service in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad. The required network will be installed across the country within a year. Two Chinese companies have installed more than 350 ONUs from exchanges to telephone cabinets by replacing old copper cables with optic fibres. One optic network unit costs Rs 10 million.
PTCL’s new management apparently knows it is easy to put the nuts and bolts together but difficult to build up customers’ confidence in their service attitude that is very badly tarnished due to the people in its ranks that are used to of decades of monopolistic environment. Let’s hope they put together a better support team they are currently seeking people for.
Provided the network is properly rolled out in time (with adequate customer support backing the higher speeds it promises), it will open up opportunities of more BPO businesses by existing or new SMB outfits and other virtual transactions.
A key challenge that PTCL will face in the roll out of this network would be provisioning of real IPv4 addresses to its envisaged 100,000 always-on customers. Since this would require close to the equivalent of 400 class C blocks and given the shortage of IPv4 addresses worldwide, it is most probable that PTCL will resort to network address translation (NAT) and put its customers behind fewer real IPv4 addresses. While browsing and download speeds will increase with the new network, a lot of fun would go away because of the absence of real IPv4 addresses. It would be logical to expect that there would be an exception to this for the ‘gold plan’ customers on the network. It would also be good to see PTCL experimenting with IPv6 deployment along side this network roll out though shortage of applications for IPv6 will remain a tough challenge to surpass.