Friday, June 08, 2001

PTCL brings high speed Internet link home



Ok. It's here. PTCL has linked up its countrywide optic fiber ring with an OC-3 Internet backbone obtained from QWest (US). The prices are also good. Instead of costing you an arm and a leg, an E1 (2 mega bits per second) circuit will cost only US $ 15,000. While critics maintain that this chunk still costs PTCL less than $5,000 and PTCL is making a killing already, the reduction is huge if you compare it with the bandwidth rates that prevailed in this region until a few months ago.

Of course, Ministry of Science & Technology is behind this bold initiative of our beloved PTCL. The cheaper rates of the bandwidth will definetly attract a lot of customers to PTCL. However, there are more than one issues that industry observers are pointing at amid all the hype that is being created for this new facility. They are:

1. Lack of proper backup circuitry for this new link - The national carrier has not provisioned a 1:1 backup circuit for this connectivity. Critics are quick to point to the dooms day scenario when one fine day the optic fiber link suffers a cut and the entire country - all the ISPs, educational institutes, call centers, software house - are disconnected from the Internet for - hold your heart - may tens and even hundreds of hours. PTCL cites the huge costs of the backup links as a hinderence keeping in view the low bandwidth costs that the Ministry is asking it to maintain.

2. Because of the huge price gap that has been brough in by the new facility, any other bandwidth option would stop making any sense. Almost everyone would be going through PTCL. Of course, this is not mandatory but with the current rates, it simply does not make any sense to go with any other international service provider for Internet bandwidth.

3. The most thorny (and probably the most corruption-vulnerable) issue is the difference of bandwdith costs between customers that are commercial ISPs and customers that are either software house, call centers or Universities. While 2 megabit per second of bandwidth will cost an ISP 15,000 dollars, the same will cost a software house just 6,000 US dollars! When you look at the difference (nine thousand dollars), you know we are immediately talking about dummy software houses, subscribing to these circuits at lucrative prices and passing this on to the ISP next door in what can easily be called high tech corruption. And who would stop small software houses from passing on the benefits of the fat pipe to the residents and other peer tenants of the same building at a neat cost? You'd say that its good that Internet is spreading but then this would be killing the ISPs business right at the bottom. And since these would be under-the-table deals, the government won't be getting anything either!

So get ready for some good bandwidth - which, of course, is subject to the availiblity of power in your street!

Wednesday, June 06, 2001

Pakistan Internet Society


The Ministry of Science and Technology is about to notify the establishment of Pakistan Internet Society or PISOC as it is affectionately being called. The establishment of PISOC is a solid step, and in the right direction as well, towards the positive growth of Internet in Pakistan.



PISOC will consist of two arms called Pakistan Internet Engineering Task Force (PIETF) and Pakistan Internet Soceital Task Force (PISTF) which will in turn be composed of people from all walks of life who are in the forefront of the Interent revolution in Pakistan.