53 per cent reduction in
rates of internet bandwidth
By Faraz Siddiqui
Jul 03 - 09, 2000
The 53 per cent decrease in Internet bandwidth rates by the PTCL was
wecomed by the IT users. However the joy was shortlived as the internet service providers(
ISPs) chose not to pass on the benefit to the end user. Only a handful of ISPs have passed
benefit to the consumers.
Talking to PAGE, Ejaz Husain, Founder and President of Internet
Association of Pakistan said that decrease in bandwidth rate by 53 per cent is an
excellent move but the end users of internet could not get benefit because majority of
ISPs despite of having increase in their profits did not transferred it to the end user to
its full extent, he added. Although number of ISPs reduced their rates but only 18 to 20
per cent which is not very good. The real position of how many ISPs giving discount will
be cleared in a couple of months, he added.
Enlightening the other aspects, Husain further said that throughout the
world the internet charges are very low for instance in America one can get supreme
quality internet services with unlimited use in just $10 to $20 per month, with ten times
faster speed services than our country where charges are very high but the quality
services are not available. Explaining the reasons of such drawbacks, Husain also
criticized that in our country the whole system of data link is monopolized by PTCL which
is the main detriment for the other companies to enter in the market, other good companies
should also allowed for their free operations.
He also pointed out that PTCL has decreased the prices but no proper
monitoring is done to ensure whether the benefit is transferred to the end users or not.
What currently practiced by some ISPs is taking the undue advantage of this decrease, more
users are provided services with current datalink capacity which is creating a sort of
transmission lag resulted in a slow speed of bandwidth. He said, available bandwidth
download speed for end user in Pakistan is about 1-3 KBps during off hours which is very
low as compared to the countries like America and Europe where normal rate is about 20
KBps during rush hours. Reducing prices is not enough for consumer benefit but PTCL should
enhance their data link.
Talking to another aspect Husain said PTCL is charging almost three
times higher charges what they are charging from ISPs. For the general benefit ISPs and
PTCL both should play their roles because if the relief does not reach to the target than
it is useless.
Explaining the view point of ISPs, he said that cost of internet band
width has three parts, first part 33 per cent goes to PTCL to provide access to bandwidth
to ISP, another 30 per cent goes to Foreign Half Circuit (FHC) the company which actually
responsible for providing the internet bandwidth and rest goes to symmetric provider which
gives one way direct link to ISPs in order to speed up their data transmission. Now ISPs
claim that PTCL has given 53 per cent reduction only on its own part that is 33 per cent
and not on overall back bone. Therefore, ISPs claim that actual discount is merely 17 per
cent where ISPs are offering upto 20 per cent which is a net loss and no organization born
for loss, So their claims seems senseless because no organization seeking for loss.
Talking about scenario in which every next day appears with a new ISP,
and our market is not large enough, Husain said, that in this flooded situation hardly
20-30 ISPs comes under the category of real leading ISPs, so emergence of new competitors
will be resulted in intense competition which will provide the users with better services.
But ISPs should not seek only profit but they should also provide excellent services to
the public. We do not need more ISPs we need good ISPs, he added.
Husain lauded the budget and called it a best budget from IT
perspective. He further said that this can bring an IT revolution in the country specially
the decision to allow banks to offer Internet Merchant Bank account with which our country
can also achieve the lucrative benefits of e-commerce.
Hussain advocated that other companies like AT&T, America on line
and IBM should allow them to install their own network in the country to facilitate the
end user with highly sophisticated and speedy internet services.
Tariff reduction on internet back bone is not enough for consumer
benefit in the present scenario. He also proposed a number of suggestion to provide
maximum benefit to the end user. He advocated the reduction on telephone lines and other
services provided by PTCL to the ISPs. Consumers should not be charged any phone call if
they are dialing internet, he added.
He recommended, since the PTCL has given this 53 % reduction subject to
the provision of FREE internet connections to the universities and educational
institutions, there should also be some checks on ISPs that they are providing the free
connections to said organizations or not. Finally he suggested that there should be
separate internet policy like IT policy in order to promote the use of internet in the
IT is the future and to be an IT nation it is imperative that awareness
should be created at large and every benefit should be transferred to the common man in
order to promote the use of internet and IT in the country. Only joint, sincere and
constructive efforts at all levels can enable Pakistan to compete with the modern world
specially with the neibouring countries.