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Agreements with ptcl- Motorola and Telstra Corporation

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 years.

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 Firoz said.