The telecom market of Pakistan has seen an unprecedented boom

Apr 17 - 23, 2006

The expansion in Nokia operations in Pakistan during the year 2005 has been spectacular by any standard. During the year, Nokia, a world leader in mobile communication has fully established itself in the fast growing telecommunication industry in Pakistan and has achieved its due share in the expanding market during the last 15 months.

Syed Veqar ul Islam, former chief of NCR Pakistan, who won laurels for his outstanding performance throughout NCR Worldwide network joined Nokia in early 2005 and has been mainly responsible for the excellent performance of this Finland origin company in Pakistan during the last 15 months. Nokia established its office in Pakistan on August 2004 and even today is working with a lean administrative set up comprising only 150 persons in its Pakistan offices majority of whom are Pakistani national including its country director Mr. Vequar ul Islam.

As Country Director, Nokia Networks, Veqar Ul Islam oversees Nokia Network business in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In his capacity, Veqar is responsible for the growth and operations for Nokia Networks complete line of solutions in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Veqar joined Nokia Company after spending 19 years at NCR. During his short span at Nokia, Veqar has managed to establish Nokia Networks presence in the marketplace and also within Nokia Corporation. He has also been instrumental in significantly localization the operation and consolidating Nokia's presence in the country. Veqar's numerous professional achievements also include his instrumental role in creating and expanding the Data warehouse and CRM market in Pakistan. He holds Masters Degree in Commerce from Karachi University. He has traveled extensively and has been trained on different segments of Information Technology and has participated in various National and International IT Forums in USA, UK, France, Cyprus and the Middle East. In September 2005, Veqar was awarded the South East Asia Regional Computer Confederation (SEARCC) Conference, IT professional of the Year Award and subsequently Nutsell Forum also awarded him with Exemplary contribution award in the field of IT.

Following the pro-active deregulation policies of the Government of Pakistan, the telecom market of Pakistan has seen an unprecedented boom. As a result nearly 13 millions new cell service customers were added in the past 12 months, an average of more than a million customers a month. Today, there are 18 million cell service subscribers in Pakistan and yet, it is a partly 11% tele-density.

Nokia has GSM/EDGE, GPRS, EG WCDMA network deployment projects with various operators throughout the region. In Pakistan, Nokia has partnered with Telenor with a 3-year frame agreement. The agreement between the two companies was signed on July 7 2004. Geographically the agreement is for the North half of the country. Under the agreement Nokia will supply its complete GSM base station subsystem that can be smoothly upgraded to 3 G WCDMA. In addition Nokia will provide turnkey implementation of the network, including site acquisition, civil works, network planning, implementation and project management for fast quality ramp up of the solution. The first Phase of the project was complete green field with no network in place. Therefore the first stage entailed rolling out a comprehensive network for the operation from scratch. Now the project is in Phase II which is mostly expansion of the network laid out in Phase I. As of December 31, 2005 a total of 703 sites were up and running.

Nokia Networks true to its commitment to Pakistan has initiated steps to develop a test bed facility in Pakistan, which will be the first of its kind for the MEA region. A Test Bed is a center where telecom equipment manufacturer can carry out testing of hardware, software along with training of Human Resources.

This test bed facility will be one of 18 facilities world wide, with almost all of them being in Europe. This training center will serve as a regional training center for the Middle East Africa region where Nokia Engineers will provide training on latest 3g technologies. European trainers will initially provide training at this facility, but by the end of the year it is expected that local employees will be performing this duty. The test bed facility aims to provide training to approximately 90 engineers in the first year of its establishment. This will help to provide trained human resource to the regional Telco Sector, as this is one of the most rapidly growing industries. Nokia Networks is now working towards developing a dull fledged country office with a clear cut strategy of pursuing more business and aiming towards making Pakistan the center of expertise for the region.

Nokia has a long history in the Middle East and Africa region. As early as the 1950s Nokai deployed telecommunication-cabling projects in the region and later expanded into transmission, fixed networks and analogue cellular networks. With the introduction of digital cellular technology, Nokia deployed its first GSM network in Iran in 1993, placing Nokia at the forefront of mobile communications in the region. Nokia established its regional headquarters in Dubai in 1994, with an African office operating out of Johannesburg, South Africa.

Nokia is committed to the Middle East and Africa region. Today Networks, Nokia's infrastructure business group has offices in the UAE, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia and Pakistan, as well as an active presence in Ethiopia, Libya, Sierra Leone and South Africa. It is looking to further expand its presence in new key markets in the region. Networks and Nokia's Customer and Market Operations division both have a strong presence in the region with over 450 employees.

Nokia's Networks business group focuses on GSM/EDGE/WCDMA/HSDPA technologies across the region, while promoting its cost optimized Nokia GSM Mobile Entry Products Solutions for new growth markets in developing countries primarily in Africa. Networks deliver mobile networks, as well as professional mobile radio networks, to several operators in 13 countries across the Middle East and Africa region. It has GSM/EDGE, GPRS, EG WCDMA network deployment projects with the following operators in the Middle East and Africa: MTC Vodafone in Bahrain, MCI in Iran, Atheer Telecom in Iraq, MTC Vodafone in Kuwait, Maroc Telecom in Morocco, Telenor in Pakistan, STC in Saudi Arabia, GPTC in Libya, Millicom in Sierra Leone, CellC in South Africa and ETC in Ethiopia.

Nokia also provides a wide range of services for operators through its won experienced and dedicated project staff and consultants, and through local and regional partners. Nokia's service solutions are customized to help operators to improve efficiency and productivity, reduce network OPEX and complexity, and improve network and service quality in order to decrease subscriber churn, grow ARPU and capture market share - all impacting operators' return on capital employed. Nokia draws on its extensive track record in services, having delivered services to virtually all of its infrastructure customers for over 15 years.

Nokia was also heavily involved on community level in Pakistan. Its rapid response to the October 8th earthquake in Pakistan was based on a three-tier strategy of helping provide immediate Relief, being part of the Rehabilitation and taking an active role in the Reconstruction. It formulated an immediate-short and long term plan as a strategic decision taken in concurrence with its Crisis Management Team. Responding to the call by the President of Pakistan, Nokia made a cash donation of pounds 10,000 to the Edhi Foundation. It contributed a further pounds 50,000 to the President's Earthquake Relief Fund.