By Syed M. Aslam
Aug 18 - 24, 2003




Ejaz Husain is an IT consultant. He started his computer career in 1989 as a trainee programmer with Peat Marwick Associates (Pvt) Ltd., one of world's leading computer consultancy firm. His initial responsibilities included programming of business application softwares which helped him learn data modeling, software designing, development, implementation and Customer Support techniques. When he left the company in November 1992, he was analyst/programmer. During his association with Peat Marwick he also worked as computer consultant for various government, private and multi-national organizations. His areas of expertise comprise web development, hosting, e-commerce solutions, business application software development, 3D animation and commercial graphics, business management, advertising and marketing. After leaving Peat Marwick he joined a private organization as Head of IT where he designed and developed a software package to monitor live TV commercials on daily basis. The software tracked the duration, delivery, performance and share of voice of all TV commercials generating reports based on product/category/company to help marketing managers plan advertising campaigns. He also worked for Pakistan Television, former NTM and many advertising agencies to visualize and produce digital effects and 3D animations for TV commercials and drama titles. One of his prominent work was the production of visual effects for a children's education program "Alif-Say-Yeay" which was PTV's longest educational programme spread over of 39 episodes.

PAGE: You are the president of Internet Association of Pakistan. What are the aims and objectives?

EJAZ HUSAIN: IAP is a non-commercial organization aimed to protect the interests of Internet users, support Internet initiatives and to serve as policy. Internet technology in Pakistan is better than many other countries and it is getting better by each passing day. However, there are still some problems that got to be addressed. For instance, rampant disconnections due to bad and/or noisy lines are inflating the telephone bills users for the Internet users. In many cases a user has to dial as many as 5-15 times to his ISP to establish to connect or to remain connected.

PAGE: What's the reason?

EJAZ HUSAIN: The frequent reconnection is primarily caused due to noise and distortion in the old age telephone lines. But it may also be due to computer itself as a large number of PCs in use here are unbranded machine or cheap IBM compatibles. These unbranded machines with lots of free/pirated softwares installed hang up the computer and/or disconnect the Internet connection and can even disable or disturb dialup networking configurations. Sometimes a user has to pay for as many as 15 calls for using the service for as little as 5-10 minutes.

PAGE: What do you suggest?

EJAZ HUSAIN: I feel that in the prevalent situation a multi-metering-free 131 number is just not good enough. This is particularly so because telephone infrastructure and computer technology is not good, there is poverty and unemployment and the majority of users can not afford to buy expensive branded PCs and dedicated Internet lines. I feel that ISPs should offer Toll-Free (0800) numbers to the users for Dialup Internet connections.

PAGE: The PTCL has banned Internet telephony. What are your views?

EJAZ HUSAIN: The banning of Voice over IP (VoIP) telephone is creating problems and sometimes hopeless situations for IT professionals specially the new comers who try to interact with the developed world for information sharing, education, services, support etc. The Internet user is bound to use PTCL's regular telephone gateway in to make international phone calls or send faxes that costs over Rs. 500 in many cases a call. This is discouraging the interacting with the developed world.

PAGE: Should the ban be lifted?

EJAZ HUSSAIN: Yes. Internet users should at least be allowed to use Internet for calling USA and Canada because most of those calling the USA and Canada are high-tech IT professionals. In USA and Canada almost every organization/institution offer Toll Free numbers (0800) to the callers for customer services, sales and inquiries etc. Some of these organisations do not give their international phone numbers and since we can not dial US toll free number from Pakistan via regular phone we can not access those companies. Therefore, another advantage of using VoIP is that we can access those companies/organizations by using their toll free numbers absolutely free. The ban should be lifted at the earliest at least for these two countries.



PAGE: Why Internet dial-up is expensive here?

EJAZ HUSAIN: The monopoly of Internet backbone provider in Pakistan has made Internet dialup connection expensive. Open competition always benefits the end users and therefore, more companies/backbone providers should be allowed to take part in the open competition. It would benefit the end users by improving the services, offering affordable price and better customer support. Internet users in Pakistan are paying more the services than their counterparts in the US whereas the quality of the service is far more inferior here. Either the standard should be matched or the price should be reduced.