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Technology and Communication Sector

- - - - - Technology Communication Telcom Sector

232 replies to this topic

#1
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    Shortage of qualified manpower: IT-related foreign investors holding back
    IQBAL MIRZA
    KARACHI (March 01 2007): Several foreign information technology (IT) related organisations, particularly from United States, which are eager to invest in Pakistan, are holding back due to shortage of qualified manpower.

    A National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) official, referring to a survey conducted in Islamabad, told Business Recorder that 82 percent of the IT graduates possess the required skill and are aware of what is expected of them in the job market.

    But, on the other hand, only 34 percent of non-IT graduates and non-graduates have some IT exposure and understanding of what their potential employers would expect from them.

    This, the official said, was not very encouraging for the IT related organisations. As far as non-IT qualified staff is concerned, they obviously are not required to do research, development, providing technical assistance, but at least they must know how to carry out their everyday task using IT resources. "But, unfortunately, that is not the case here," he added.

    He urged the IT organisations to step up and prepare a strategy for provision of training to both IT and non-IT graduates, and undergraduates enabling them to fill the vacancies in this rapidly growing field.

    Nadra, as a pure welfare measure, has launched a countrywide computer literacy drive by starting short but compact computer training courses, which would make them a proficient data entry operator within a short span of four weeks.

    The contents of the curriculum of the course have been so designed that it will not only meet the demand of the local industry, NGOs and other government departments but also the foreign NGOs would be too eager to hire these qualified boys and girls trained by the most qualified staff of Nadra using modern techniques and tools in use world-wide for training.

    The course would not only teach the students to undertake the multifaceted data entry operations but would also focus on a better code of conduct, which would help them in getting prepared for diversified nature jobs available in the country as well as abroad.

    These courses would be conducted in phases, with Rawalpindi/Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi in the first phase and Peshawar, Sargodha, Multan, Sukkur and Quetta in the second phase.

    The network of this computer training outfit will be further expanded to other towns in the near future. Nadra has planned to establish around 80 such training centres all over the country.

    Preparation of a database of the citizens of Pakistan, introduction of machine-readable passport, automation of border control on basis of bio-metric facial and fingerprints and creating public convenience by introducing utility bill machines, preparation of database of more than 1.2 million people of earthquake-affected areas in a record time of five months speak of the quality of data entry operators (DEOs) Nadra has trained and subsequently employed.

    The official said that Pakistan's information technology market is rapidly growing and going to emerge as an internationally recognised leading IT destination. Starting from a relatively low base in 2003, Pakistan's IT industry has developed into a $2 billion market and is still growing. Unlike India, which had the IT manpower and specific marketing strategies by 1950 and had funding management techniques by 1980, Pakistan's skilled IT manpower achieved a good position by 2000. "But, can Pakistan sustain this growth?" he asked.

    Due to proper management of the industry in 2003, Pakistan had been one of the leading destinations for some leading businesses. Some of the multinational giants, like NCR, IBM and Chinese ZTE, have grown over 400 percent, in terms of human resource and office space.

    The biggest IT organisation in Pakistan is Nadra, with more than 9,000 qualified persons of all shades of expertise in information technology.

    The expansion of IT related field has always been the focus of attention of the Government, giving rise to more demands and creating more vacancies in IT related organisations.

    But, still, various IT based organisations in the country keep on hunting for talented young boys/girls qualified in IT related field who are either in short supply or, due to financial constraints, cannot afford to acquire skills which would provide them a reasonable job in the market.

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    #2
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    Pak telecom sector growing rapidly, offers numerous incentives: PM

    BEIJING (updated on: April 17, 2007, 22:19 PST): Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said Tuesday that Pakistan's tele-density was growing at a rate of 35 per cent annually adding one and a half million subscribers and offers attractive incentives for foreign telecom companies for more investment.

    Addressing a Telecom Roundtable here attended by Chief Executive Officers, and Presidents of leading Chinese companies including the ZTE, Huwaei, Alcatel, Boco Inter Telecom, Kongzhong, Lenovo, Ningho Bird, TCC, Asia Info, Beijing University of Ports and Telecom and China Mobile Pakistan, the Prime Minister said Pakistan can serve as a base for developing both the software and hardware for the telecom industry.

    "We are an open economy and welcomes investors, providing them a level playing field for both the local and foreign companies," he added.

    He said the Special Incentives Zone inaugurated by Chinese President Hu Jintao during his recent visit to Pakistan provides a number of incentives and facilities including rental subsidies, zero tax rates and cheaper labour to expand and diversify business for export to other countries in the region.

    Prime Minister Aziz said tele-density in the country was likely to grow unabated due to the rapid economic growth and demographics and said the country has a large percentage of under-25 population that desires newer handsets and value-added services.

    Aziz inviting the Chinese software and hardware companies to invest in Pakistan said they can diversify and utilize the services of highly educated and skilled manpower and the large base of telecom engineers. He said these companies can also collaborate with Pakistani companies.

    He said the Pakistan Telecom Authority was a good regulator and was ensuring that all mobile companies get fair share in the market. He said there was huge potential in Pakistani telecom market as there was low cost of production. He said there was a need to improve the billing, networking and allied facilities for Paktel and work was underway in this regard.

    He said Pakistan has now over 50 million subscribers and 1.5 million were being added monthly as the income of the people were increasing. He said Pakistan was appreciative of the success of Chinese telecom companies and asked them to consider it as a base for these to diversify geographically.

    CEO of China Mobile Wang Jiazhou said his company had acquired Paktel for US 460 million dollars and will add another US 400 million dollars to make it more competitive with the existing cellular companies. He said Pakistan was a rapidly growing telecom market and was the main attraction for investment.

    He said Chinese mobile market was also growing at a rate of 35 per cent and five million subscribers were being added every month.

    Adviser to Prime Minister Sharifuddin Pirzada,

    Minister for IT Awais Leghari, Minister for Science and Technology Naouraiz Shakoor, Foreign Secretary Riaz Mohammad Khan, Chinese ambassador to Pakistan and Pakistan's ambassador to China Salman Bashir.

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    #3
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    PTA to check cell phone towers hazards

    ISLAMABAD (updated on: May 09, 2007, 16:57 PST): Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) would launch public awareness campaign to implement policy to check mobile phone towers hazards in true spirit and to address public concerns.

    The government has already unveiled the policy to check health related effects of mobile phone towers or antennas installed by mobile phone operators in different parts of the country.

    Ministry of Information Technology is taking all necessary actions as relevant to the policy measures and issued a policy to the regulator PTA to establish national guidelines for mitigating environmental and health hazards and to address public concerns about radiation effects of the infrastructure.

    Due to heavy investment of operators in roll-out, the total number of cellular mobile and Wireless Local Loop (WLL) base stations in the country stands at around 10,000 and is expected to reach a figure of more than 13000 to 15,000 during this year.

    While development of cellular infrastructure is the key indicator of the growth of telecom industry there are some public concerns and negative perceptions relating to health hazards due to base station towers.

    It is estimated, in major cities, only about 3 percent of antenna sites, currently commissioned will have to be re-designed or improved, it is officially learnt here Wednesday.

    PTA will give a timeline of six months for such improvements and at the same time concerns of local authorities and provincial governments will be addressed through harmonised guidelines for the entire country.

    PTA will also conduct independent, random, ongoing audit of base stations to ensure compliance to the guidelines about levels of exposure. This will ensure that the public will be protected against any radiation exposure risks within guideline levels.

    The Authority will also ensure that the information on the audit surveys is posted on its website and is readily accessible.

    Radiation Standards will also be published on PTA website and media and the Ministry and PTA in collaboration with the industry will devise and execute a well structured media campaign to educate the public about safety standards related to radiation from base station antennas.

    The media campaign will also cover the implementation of guidelines and availability of related information on PTA website.

    PTA in its regulations on the subject will ensure that appropriate measures are adopted by operators to follow the base station sitting criteria and work practices proposed in the study.

    The adoption of proposed guidelines will harmonise the antenna deployment and work practices and bring installations in line with international practices and address perceptional concerns of general public. With the media awareness campaign and public availability of data on base station antennas and the audit trail data of all antennas, on the PTA website, it is expected that public perceptions about health hazards will improve.

    The state of the art technology for antennas currently being deployed has led to conclusion that exposure limits will not be violated unless the antenna sites are deployed in such a manner that they directly face populated buildings.

    One must recall that the Cabinet instructed the Ministry of IT to conduct a thorough study and take policy steps required to minimise the negative impacts of base station proliferation across the country.

    A detailed research study has been conducted by the Ministry of IT to take stock of the situation.

    Radiation hazards from the base stations were thoroughly analysed in light of international research and recommendations of standards bodies.

    The study report was also circulated to the ministries of health, environment, PTA and the industry stakeholders for comments and recommendations.

    The study has concluded that although a bulk of medical research material is available on the health related effects of electromagnetic radiation yet no conclusive evidence of hazards to human health has been established for possible exposure levels vis-à-vis current arrangement of cellular towers.

    Only if a human being comes directly in front of an antenna-radiating surface (not the tower), within more than eight meters (25 feet) can there be a possibility of exposure to radiation levels detrimental to human health.

    Most of the countries around the world have adopted one of the standards and in view of the study and extensive consultation, ministry of IT has decided that Pakistan also needs to adopt a precautionary approach in light of non-conclusiveness of international research and put in place safeguards against any remote chances of health hazards due to cellular antennas.

    Meanwhile, National Assembly in its current session referred the matter of emission of radiation from mobile telephone towers to its Standing Committee on Environment.

    MNA Syed Haider Abbas Rizvi, on an adjournment motion, drew the attention of the House towards emission of radiation from different towers installed in the populated areas.

    Parliamentary Secretary from Cabinet Division, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan told the House that PTA made the cellular companies to abide by all safety measures.

    She dispelled the impression that towers were hazardous for human health and said, around six billion population across the globe use mobile phones and there was no evidence of any threat.

    She said in some countries mobile phones have been under use for the last quarter century but there is no complaint of its hazardous impact.

    Firdous Ashiq said, PTA has a set criteria for installation of these towers and all companies fulfil security requirements at the time of issuance of licenses and later on.

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    PTA plans first three 3G licenses this year

    ISLAMABAD (updated on: May 09, 2007, 18:08 PST): Pakistan plans to issue its first three licenses for third generation (3G) mobile telecoms service by the end of this year in a cellular market of more than 55 million users, a government official said on Wednesday.

    High-speed 3G transmission would allow cell phones to better provide services such as photos and the Internet in Pakistan, one of the fastest growing cellular markets in Asia.

    "We are working on the plan, and 3G spectrum would be allocated to three companies for launching 3G mobile phone services in Pakistan," said a PTA official, who declined to be identified.

    "The 3G licenses are expected to be issued by the end of this year and will be offered only to existing mobile phone operators for a period of 15 years."

    The official telecommunications watchdog, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), recorded 55.61 million mobile phone users in the country by March 31, up from 12.77 million in 2005.

    Pakistan's existing operators include Mobilink, a unit of Egpyt-based Orascom Telecom, Norway's Telenor and Warid Telecom of the United Arab Emirates.

    Other operators are Ufone, a subsidiary of Pakistan Telecommunication Ltd., Instaphone owned by a private Pakistani group, and CM PAK, previously known as Paktel that China Mobile Communication Corp. recently acquired from Sweden's Millicom.

    The number of mobile phone users has gone up rapidly after the government gave licenses to Telenor and Warid in 2005, bringing the total number of operators to six.

    The existing policy, introduced in 2004, provided for the government not to license any more operators for five years.

    Mobile teledensity, or cellular phone users out of the total population, in Pakistan rose to 35.79 percent in March from 8.30 percent in 2005. Pakistan has a population of over 160 million.

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    Foreign cell service eyes local WLL firm
    By Imran Ayub
    KARACHI: A foreign cellular company, enjoying the highest number of subscribers across the country has decided to strengthen its presence in Pakistan, reaching a deal to acquire a local telephony company at around $12 million.

    Industry sources confirmed on Wednesday Mobilink - owned by the Egyptian Orascom Telecom - had almost finalised deal with DVCOM a licensed LDI (long distance and international) and limited mobility telecom operator.

    “Total value of the deal has not been disclosed, but estimates suggest the deal may fetch $12 million,” said a source privy to the development.

    “The two sides have been in a process to complete formalities and regulatory obligations. The official announcement is due within next few weeks.”

    He said the Mobilink had cited serious interests in Pakistani telephony other than cellular operations mainly in wireless local loop service (WLL) and days ahead would see the company entering more acquisitions.

    “Initial findings of talks between the two sides suggest Mobilink is interested in acquiring DVCOM’s services in 14 telecom regions at 2.4 GHz (gigahertz),” added the source.

    Mobilink is among six cellular companies operating in the country with total 24.64 million subscribers out of total 55.61 million cellular service users in Pakistan. The company starting its operation in 1994 has so far invested more than $2 billion in infrastructure development and network expansion.

    Telecom players believe the company’s interest is fast stretching to other segments of telecom, which include broadband services, WLL operations and data communications. The fresh deal is seen as move in the same direction.

    “The country has lot of potential to explore investment opportunities,” said a Mobilink official but asked not to be named. “The company strives to identify all such untapped areas in the Pakistani telecom and offer those services to end users.”

    However, he did not elaborate the future plans of the Mobilink but said the company was well aware of the global trend in telecom with advanced technology and was looking for all such options, which had potential to attract encouraging response from the end users in Pakistan.

    The industry source said the company was also in talks with several other local telecom companies to acquire their stakes before launching full-fledged broadband operations across the country.

    “So there would be more news from Mobilink in the days to come once the DVCOM deal is closed,” said the source.

    The DVCOM is owned by the AKD Group with initial plans to start formal operation in third quarter of 2007 before it went into deal with Mobilink. The company has a strategic mix of 1900 and 450 MHz spectrum mix unparallel to any other operator in the market.

    DVCOM was among several companies, which acquired LDI and WLL licenses in 2004 following telecom deregulation brining an end to more than five-decade old monopoly of the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL).

    “The PTA (Pakistan Telecommunication Authority) awarded over 80 licenses to more than some 35 companies for FLL (fixed line local loop) and licensed fifteen others for WLL operations in different region while 12 licenses were issued LDI service,” said the source.

    “Mobilink-DVCOM deal is also reflective of major shift of world reputed companies’ interest towards Pakistan’s basic telephony services and it may also attract other major players in cellular sector to take initiative.”

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    Qatar Telecom poised to buy Burraq stake
    By Imran Ayub

    KARACHI: Qatar Telecom is to make its first foray into Pakistan as it is entering into final talks to acquire a local company with nationwide and intentional telephony networks at $30 million.

    The Arabian company known as Qtel is believed to be close to entering a deal with Burraq Telecom to acquire its 70 per cent stake with management control and has comprehensive plans to re-launch the company.

    “Actually the two sides (Qtel and Burraq) are engaged in talks for long and now they have almost reached a decision,” said a source in telecom privy to the development. “Burraq Telecom has already the licenses of nationwide and international telephony service operation it acquired from the PTA (Pakistan Telecommunication Authority).”

    A senior official at the company however avoided sharing details, and said the company would formally announce it by next week. “The things would be finalised within a week and we would then issue details,” said Asad Karim, Chief Technical Office (CTO) Burraq Telecom.

    The industry source said the company was looking for potential local and international investors to roll out its services across the country but this failed to come to fruition. The company management later decided to offload their shares to foreign investors and finally struck a deal with the Qtel, added the source.

    “Burraq Telecom Limited is a public limited company sponsored by three telecom firms, namely Comcept Private Limited, TeleCall Payphones Private Limited and Stancom Private Limited,” he added.

    Burraq Telecom was among several companies, which acquired LDI (long distance and international) and WLL (wireless local loop) licenses in 2004 following telecom deregulation bringing an end to more than five-decade-old monopoly of the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL).

    The PTA ñ the telecom regulator ñ awarded over 84 licenses to more than some 35 companies for fixed line local loop (FLL) and licensed fifteen others for WLL operations in different regions while 12 licenses were issued for LDI service. However Burraq-Qtel deal is seen as a major shift of world reputed companies’ interest towards

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