DEVELOPING TELECOM & IT SECTORS IN BALOCHISTAN
Dec 08 - 21, 2008
Balochistan has immense potential for the development of telecom and IT sectors and its geo-strategic location in the region is also an attraction for the foreign telecom and IT firms. Less affordability and non-availability of electricity are the main impediments for development of these sectors in the province. Other obstacles are its geography and demography indicating a difficult terrain and scattered population. The least developed province is yet to enjoy and benefit from the advancement in computing and telecommunications.
Balochistan still lacks the sound telecommunication infrastructure and remains a potential telecom market after the deregulation of telecom industry. The province is yet to fully enjoy the fruits of deregulation, which has brought scores of new private entrants to provide service in Pakistan. The deregulation of telecom industry is fast gaining momentum with dozens of more communication companies and millions of customers entering both the fixed-line and mobile telephone markets. The mobile network covers a population of 2.7 million which is around 35 per cent of total population of Balochistan. The fixed line subscribers are substituting fixed line with mobile services in the province. In 2006, the fixed line subscribers in the province have dropped by 5 per cent.
The government should take Balochistan's telecom future seriously and announce a special telecom policy for the rapid growth of this industry in the province. It should also take steps to improve the security environment in tribal areas of the province, so that private firms could expand their operations in these areas. The level of development in telecommunication is generally measured through tele-density; hence the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) should take steps to enhance tele-density in the province. Steps should be taken to establish community-based tele-centers across Balochistan, where telecom facilities will be shared instead of having dedicated facilities.
A telecom forum should be arranged as a calendar activity by the PTA to provide a platform for promoting interaction among telecom consumers, private sector and telecom regulator for telecom development and for devising a strategic approach for development of telecom services in the province. Today, law and order has become a major problem in the province. It provides a risky environment to implement any business plan or economic activity. The incidents of bomb blasts, attacks on public installations and target killings have become a routine. The prevailing security situation in the province is enough to discourage the foreign firms to start their operations.
The government should work for creating a peaceful and business-friendly environment in the province. The investments in telecom sector can only be attracted if the province presents a stable political scene. The government should make efforts for bringing a political reconciliation in the province and improving the law and order situation, which is essential for luring the foreign investors.
Shortfall of revenue and absence of venture capital are the main issues, which should be resolved by allocating more funds for the development of IT industry in Balochistan. The local companies need a healing touch from the government. If awarding contracts accommodates them, it will help them build their record and play significant role in griping a market for Balochistan, both nationally and internationally. The issue is the development and consolidation of IT industry in the province. There will be no use of producing an army of IT professionals without developing and strengthening IT industry in the province. Government should resolve the problems of IT firms, help them build their trade record and place them in the national and international IT market. Steps should also be taken for imparting IT education in Balochistan at school level by setting up computer laboratories. The Federal government and the province should equally share the expenditure.
Balochistan lacks the skilled and qualified persons to develop IT sector in the province. It also lacks the IT infrastructure. That is why, the skilled IT professionals move towards other provinces preferably to Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. On the other hand, the lack of encouragement of local IT professionals has been an important factor that could not promote the IT environment in the province. Presently, Quetta, the provincial capita has the presence of at least six IT firms in private sector including Innovative Information Technologies (IIT), Active Communications, Pearl Institute of Information Technology, Matrix Informatics and Origin Enterprises. The IIT is also an implementing partner with Government of Pakistan in e-government project. The government should allocate more funds for setting up software houses in the province.
Balochistan absolutely lacks trained human resources for establishing call centers. The provincial government should set up institutes for training of local youth in sales, customer services, regional demographics and in English language skills. The province lacks the training facilities related to setting up a call center. Unfortunately, for shortage of skilled people in the local market, the training and development costs will go up in Balochistan.
The IT departments in the university of Balochistan and Balochistan University of Information Technology and Management Sciences (BUITMS) should arrange training programs for call centers. The department of Information Technology, Electronic and Telecommunication Engineering of BUITMS is currently managing a provincial IT Forum aimed at apprising entrepreneurs of the changing business environment in the province.
The government should allocate handsome funds for IT education and developing IT infrastructure in Balochistan. It can arrange internship program in Karachi, Lahore and other cities for IT students of the province at least for a period of six months. The province needs human capital and trained IT professionals. At least 30 young professionals and teachers from the BUITMS were recently sent abroad under HEC program for training in IT and Ph.D programs. There is a dire need to impart training in data basis, networking, web designing, graphic designing and other areas of IT field. It will take time, at least 4 to 5 years for promotion of IT skills and growth of the sector in the province.
Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) should support the development of local IT industry in areas like human capital development, IT park construction and marketing. The PSEB should help the province in preparing a training module. The call center related skills training can provide the local youth lucrative jobs.
NOKIA SIEMENS NETWORKS' US$61 MILLION AGREEMENT WITH QTEL CONTRIBUTES TO REALIZATION OF ONGOING STRATEGY TO DELIVER WORLD-CLASS COMMUNICATION
Qatar Telecom (Qtel), the leading telecommunications company, took another important stride towards delivering the highest standard of communications infrastructure today, with the completion of an agreement to implement a full network modernization project that will double mobile broadband speeds in Qatar.
As a strategic partner, Nokia Siemens Networks is modernizing and optimizing Qtel's pioneering nationwide 2G and 3G networks, providing an advanced network infrastructure based on the company's "future-proof" solutions.
His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al-Thani, Chairman of Qtel, said: "Today's announcement of this significant upgrade to Qatar's mobile network infrastructure brings us an important step closer to the realization of our vision to deliver the world's most advanced communication solutions to everyone in Qatar. We will work with Nokia Siemens Networks to ensure that the highest quality of experience and the latest services are made available for our customers."
As part of the agreement, Nokia Siemens Networks is deploying an energy-efficient radio access solution, based on a Flexi Base Station, that will offer very significant power consumption savings to Qtel. These savings will help reduce the environmental impact of the ongoing growth of Qatar's communication infrastructure, by increasing energy savings, in-line with Qtel's strategy for enhanced corporate social responsibility.
Nokia Siemens Networks is also providing technical and business consultancy, site preparation, field activities and network operations support. It is implementing a state-of-the-art infrastructure roll-out process, built upon a circuit-switch core network capacity expansion and a packet core network swap based on the Flexi ISN solution for optimized data traffic.
These services will ensure a seamless upgrade for everyone in Qatar, providing uninterrupted and enhanced mobile broadband service, as well as enabling Qtel to continue to deliver its range of product enhancements and upgrades to customers across Qatar.
Commenting on this deal, which extends the strong relationship with Qtel that started in 1994, Christoph Caselitz, Chief Market Operations Officer, Nokia Siemens Networks said: "This is an important deal for us as it strengthens our collaboration and commitments with an industry leader such as Qtel."
"As a significant regional operator, with tremendous expansion potential, Qtel is one of our key customers. We are very pleased that it has recognized Nokia Siemens Networks as a reliable supplier, and we're ready to offer our best-in-class technologies in line with Qtel's long-term plans to provide superior quality to their customers," added Qais Esrawee, Head of the "Qtel group" Customer Business Team for Nokia Siemens Networks.
Qtel's network continues to be supported by the multivendor, multi-technology NetAct network and service management solution. Nokia Siemens Networks will also provide Qtel with NetAct Global Reporter for collecting, processing and visualizing network performance information, and NetAct Optimizer for enhancing service quality for Qtel customers and increasing efficiency of the optimization processes.