PTA’s Consultation Paper on NGN

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has released a ‘consultation paper‘ on its website for public comments. Those who might be short on time to formally comment on the paper can use the comment space here and I will try to incorporate the inputs in my response.

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IP in Telecom Core

News are trickling in about the expected expansion of CMPak’s network. This report talks about ZTE providing a 14,000 carrier radio network and a 10 million subscriber core to CMPak expected roll-out.

Given the boom (pdf) of telecom services in Pakistan, these announcements sound like run of the mill these days. However, an interesting trend to note here is the fact that the core telecommunication equipment is getting increasingly all-IP.

Telecommunication (read voice) networks have traditionally relied upon TDM circuits to work. However, with the success of the IP Technologies in the world of Internet (and the Internet itself), there is a worldwide drift from TDM to IP for everything done at these telecommunication services shops.

According to the agreement, ZTE will provide its next-generation V3 base stations, and the core network will adopt all-IP networking.

What does this mean on ground? The telecommunication power houses will increasing turn to IP networks within their core to serve their various needs – from back hauling voice from their radio networks to their core, to IMS, signaling, billing, customer care and messaging. There will be an increased incentive to build out large, high performance and high availability IP networks in the core to serve this long menu of internal services needed by the exploding telecommunication services.

Other telecom operators who have recently upgraded their networks (or are in the process) have also been putting IP capabilities in the access network to cope with the expected increased demands from cities due to a swelling subscriber population. Mobilink had installed IP (over DSL) pico cells in some part of Karachi to extend its access network in dense urban building areas. I do not have detailed information on this and it would be great if some reader could fill this up for the rest of us.

Joost-In-Time

Kazaa and Skype creators have another disruptive candy for the world – Joost. Joost is a video distribution platform that relies on P2P protocol(s) instead of HTTP (as in the case of GooTube) with the twist that the platform is all directors-driven. That means higher quality contents. And of course, that also means some very well thought-out business models to sustain the network. A nice twist with Joost is the way it captures the entire screen of your PC to give it a ‘feel’ of a TV.

Joost, like Youtube and other video services, will remain off-limits for Pakistani users most of whom are still on dialup or ‘genetically engineered’ DSL/HFC networks.

If you have a broadband connection and want to try out the application, Umair of Salaam Bazaar and Mustafa of Broadband Pakistan are dishing out Joost invites. If you want, you can get the same directly from here too.

GSM Investments & 3G Licenses

Telegoegraphy is reporting on Warid’s further investment in Pakistan in the form of a $100m loan from IFC:

…..private sector investment arm of the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), is to extend a USD100 million loan and arrange a syndicated loan of USD140 million for Paktel rival Warid Telecom. According to an IFC document seen by Dow Jones Newswires, Warid Telecom is seeking the loans to finance the construction, expansion and operation of a nationwide GSM network. The project, which began in June 2006, is estimated to cost USD 1.4 billion and is expected to be completed in June 2009.

Government of Pakistan is also reportedly considering to offer three nationwide UMTS (3G) licenses.

ICOCN2007 in Islamabad

University of Engineering & Technology Texila is hosting the 6th International Conference on Optical Communication and NetworksICOCN2007 in Islamabad during early August 2007. From the conference’s website:

Since its very inception in 2002 in Singapore, International Conference on Optical Communications and Networks (ICOCN) has been held annually in different countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region.  The second conference was held in Bangalore, India, third one in Hong Kong, fourth one in Bangkok, Thailand and fifth one in Chengdu, China.

The 6th International Conference on Optical Communication and Networks ICOCN2007 is being organized by University of Engineering & Technology, Taxila during 7-9 August 2007 and will be held at Margala Hotel Islamabad, Pakistan.

The conference aims to provide a premier opportunity for professionals, experts, engineers, scientists and industrialists throughout the world in the field of research, development and applications of Optical Communications to share and exchange their ideas and experiences.

Important dates are:

Conference Date: 7-9 August 2007
Submission of Full Paper: 20 May, 2007
Notification of acceptance: 16 June, 2007
Camera Ready and Registration: 30th June, 2007

DIDX Gets Internet Telephony Excellence Award for 2006

DIDX – DID Exchange from Super Technologies- with Rehan Ahmed Allahwala from Karachi (yes he travels a lot but is based in Karachi) as one of its main drivers bags one of the forty three companies that received the Internet Telephony Excellence Award for 2006. The award is organized by TMC, a galaxy of communication related print and on-line publications.

Other companies that bagged the award included Alcatel, Inter-Tel, Inc., Juniper Networks, Netcentrex, Overture Networks, Samsung, Toshiba and Verizon.

Super Technologies have managed to remain ahead of the technological curve specially when compared to local companies. As early as in 1995, the company that was later to become Super Technologies was offering Faxaway services (international fax over email) to the local market. At that time, international calls cost you an arm and a leg and email was still a novelty. From Faxaway to DIDX, the company rolled as many services as the number of alphabets in English. Some of which that I can remember off the hand include Internet telephone line where the users used to get a US number for their soft or hard IP phones, call center solutions, IP PBX etc.

DIDX works on the novel concepts of useless-for-me-but-gem-for-others concept of sharing and exchanging DID (Direct Inward Dialing) numbers between Telecos of the world. Each Telco that operates anywhere in the world has access or ownership of the local E.164 telephone numbers. Using DIDX services, and the magic of VoIP protocols, Telcos can offer their cheap DID resources to others and gain DID resources on other networks for their customers use.

DIDX assumes cheap, resilient Internet available everywhere where its services are used – a situation that cannot be taken for granted in contemporary regulatory environment of Pakistan. However, despite the fact, DIDX is picking up in Pakistan. A number of Telcos are opting for DIDX services and offering a myriad of telephone numbers atop their local loop services in Pakistan.