More Details on PTCL IPTV Plans

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.

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APNIC Internet Trainings in Karachi

From 1st May to 5th May 2007, Asia Pacific Network Information Center (APNIC) is conducting a training course for Internet engineers in Pakistan. Details of the training and workshop are available here. Recommended course is Routing/IPv6 Workshop that would cost a non-APNIC member Rs 7,000.

The training is being held at NDC Training Academy‘s Sharah-e-Faisal Campus and is being locally hosted by Networker’s Society of Pakistan.

PTA Keeps on Lipservicing Broadband Cause

PTA has yet again paid lipservice to the cause of wide broadband penetration in Pakistan. At a seminar organized on the theme of Wimax by South Asia Middle East North Africa (SAMENA) Telecommunications Council, PTA’s chief repeated the combo of words that could easily be created by anyone associated with the industry.

More clear, practical announcements on the broadband penetration cause would have been far more useful. Yes, PTA has published a consultation paper that aims to bring down the costs of Internet bandwidth in Pakistan but bandwidth tariffs are just one part of the broadband proliferation. Matters relating to IP traffic exchange between service providers, local loop unbundling, application agnostic Internet infrastructure, development of localized contents, IPv6 adoption via incentives and legislation, subsidies on local telehouses in the private sector and many other factors are needed to kick-off a broadband revolution in Pakistan in its true sense.