Wednesday, June 13, 2001

Cisco Systems Exhibition in Karachi

Cisco Systems is holding a product and solutions exhibition in Karachi tomorrow (14th June, 2001). The local tech community is generally excited about the event. However, the excitement level is not what it would have been if the exhibition were to take place six months ago. The US economy slowdown has definitely affected the local market as well which never had a firm economic platform to stand upon.

Coming back to the Cisco event, it is interesting to note that there is a sizeable number of Pakistanis serving Cisco Systems (though the number is not as high as that of Indians serving Cisco). These people have always wanted Cisco to have a local presence in Pakistan and a lot many of these Pakistanis at Cisco have expressed their interest in setting up a worldwide Cisco TAC (Technical Assistance Center) in Pakistan where they think the human resource would be available at a very competitive price. However, the market in Pakistan is just not sizeable enough to either attract a not-just-a-shop presence of Cisco Systems. The only customer whose shopping list could sound interesting to Cisco is (probably) PTCL . Even the largest of the corporate entities or general Internet Service Providers in Pakistan have no more than a couple of dozen WAN links - with bandwidths ranging around a few hundred kilobits - and that has to be voice-free circuits (VoIP still remains an illegal option in Pakistan). Keeping all these facts in mind, one wonders what benefits could be obtained from such a product and solution display that generally revolves around cutting edge technologies such as gigabit routing and switching and voice over IP solutions. If you go by the book, it would be illegal for any customer visiting the high-tech event to buy a VoIP product or sign up for such a service because of the restrictions on VoIP by the local incumbent carrier!. For most of us, the current event is something similar to a childs visit to a glassy candy shop with all the windows tightly locked up. You can see the candies but you can't take them home (legally!).

While the current situation in Pakistan on this front is not very exciting, let us hope that with the reforms that are being introduced by the current government could trigger a change.