ISPS AND PTCL
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 country.
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.