Agreements with ptcl- Motorola and Telstra Corporation
By AMANULLAH BASHAR
Jan 31 - Feb 06, 2000
Under the stagnant economic growth currently prevailing in the country, TeleCard, a
public listed company, has done a wonderful job by entering into an agreement with Network
Design & Construction (NDC), a subsidiary of Telstra Corporation Limited, world's most
reputed telecommunication service providers as their strategic partner to expand TeleCard
network all over Pakistan.
Shahid Firoz, Director of TeleCard told PAGE that with the valuable experience
of NDC in similar fields, TeleCard expects the most cost effective and profitable
build-out and operation of the Wireless Payphone Service in Pakistan.
The project will provide much needed phone service, which is currently not available in
most of the rural and sub-urban areas of the country. TeleCard network will cover all the
major population centres in Pakistan.
According to an estimate the service will be made available in areas having a total
population of almost 90 million people as compared to the current PTCL network which
presently provides service in areas with an estimated total population of 50 million. The
availability of this service will bring tremendous benefits to the rural population of the
country, including easier communication, closer integration with the urban population,
better information on markets and prices of agricultural produce etc. The service will
continue to be provided with prepaid cards, which will mean that people would not have to
wait for their bills and then queue to make payments.
TeleCard will implement a WLL network using the CDMA technology. It may be pointed out
that WLL or Wireless in the local loop is a more advanced alternative for providing phone
service instead of the traditional system of laying copper wire in the ground which is
more time consuming, costly and unsuitable for rural areas.
Shahid Firoz said that arrival of Telstra in Pakistan as strategic partner of TeleCard
is being taken as a significant breakthrough as their presence will not ony help
revolutionizing the telecommunication technology in Pakistan but pave the way for other
foreign investors in this country.
This international interest and investment in Telecard is of course an outstanding
achievement of TeleCard especially in the backdrop of the difficult conditions faced by
the national economy. The commitments made by international giants in the field of
telecommunication not only reassuring for Pakistan but prove the professionally sound
strategies being pursued by the management of Telecard.
Shahid Firoz, while highlighting the salient features of the new project said that his
company had signed an agreement with Pakistan Telecommunication Corporation Ltd (PTCL) in
May 1999 to provide payphone services in all parts of Pakistan through the revolutionary
Wireless Local Loop (WLL) technology.
This technology, Shahid Firoz said, will help PTCL and TeleCard to jointly provide
phone services especially in the sub-urban and rural areas of Pakistan, where PTCL finds
it more expensive to deploy its traditional copper-wire telephone network beside
administrative cost of maintenance and bill collections etc.
Another agreement reached between TeleCard and Motorola Corporation of the United
States, one of the world's largest manufacturer of wireless telecommunications equipment,
will facilitate TeleCard with CDMA wireless access equipment for the build out of
TeleCard's network and supplier credits to finance the equipment.
Though we are late in introducing the Wireless Local Loop (WLL) technology as it is
already in use elsewhere in the world. Since it is a proved technology there is no risk of
any experiment which can be taken as a positive aspect of the late arrival, he remarked.
In collaboration with PTCL, TeleCard will provide a total of 125,000 lines in a 3 tier
network spreading over urban, sub-urban and rural areas. However 70 per cent of the total
lines would be allocated for rural and sub-urban areas.
The cost of the project is estimated at $150 million, which TeleCard has planned to
finance through a combination of debt and equity funds.
When asked about the schedule for completion of the project, Shahid Firoz said that
work is likely to start from the third quarter of the current year and to be finished in 3
Availability of the pre-paid phone facility through TeleCard is likely to bring
revolutionary change especially in our farm life. Shahid Firoz said that at present the
farmers have to sell their hard earned agriculture produce sometimes at a throw away price
due to glut in the market. Since most of the farm produce are generally perishable the
farmers once transported them to the market have to sell them off at any cost instead of
bringing back to farm. The TeleCard will help providing them access to the market through
phone to know better about the market conditions. The farmers will be in a much better
position when they know about the market conditions before leaving for market, Shahid