INTERVIEW WITH MR. ABDUL WASEY KHAN, MANAGER PTCL & HONORARY SECRETARY ICMAP

KHALIL AHMED
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)

Mar 19 - 25, 20
12

PAGE: TELL ME SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF PLEASE.

KHAN: I qualified my CMA in year 1999, joined KPMG, and performed on financial audits, internal audit assignments and information system audits. I did my CISA in year 2002, worked at Wazir Ali Industries, and Sui Southern Gas Company. In 2008, I joined PTCL, and am working there as manager internal audit.

I have been elected in Karachi Branch council of ICMAP thrice from year 2008 to 2010 for the term 2012-14. I have been elected in national council and given responsibility as Honorary Secretary ICMAP.

PAGE: AT LEAST NINE TELECOMMUNICATION COMPANIES INCLUDING FOUR WORLD MAJORS ARE LIKELY TO PARTICIPATE IN BIDDING DUE BY END-MARCH FOR THIRD (3G) AND FOURTH GENERATION (4G) TELECOM LICENSES IN PAKISTAN. YOUR VIEWS.

KHAN: It must be noted that 3G services will facilitate the expansion of various data services including mobile banking, e-education, and accessibility of these services in rural areas that may have a positive impact on economy. However, there is a need to analytically review the situation, i.e. the bidding process, as there is already a lot of speculation and hue and cry over the base price set i.e. US$210 million, claiming it to be too low, in comparison with India, and earlier licensing in Pakistan in year 2004, of 2G services (GSM) at the rate of $291 million per license. Nevertheless, it is interesting to mention here that the base price set at that time for 2G services was a mere $61 million, so I strongly believe that now, again, the 3 and 4G, licenses would finally be awarded at a much higher rate. The government and PTA would have to play a vigilant role to ensure the transparency of the whole process, and I strongly believe that they will.

PAGE: CELLULAR COMPANIES PAID $291 MILLION PER LICENSE IN 2004 FOR 2G SERVICES (GSM), WHICH IS NOW CONSIDERED AN OBSOLETE TECHNOLOGY. YOUR VIEWS.

KHAN: Though I have discussed this earlier in the comparison above, I would like to give my comments on technological aspects here. It is the beauty of technological evolution, that some gadgets or technologies that are considered the height of innovation at the time of their arrival, get redundant within a single decade. The automobile industry has gone through that phase some decades back. The IT industry is facing the same phenomenon, as is happening with telecom. Almost all the tech related companies face the same dilemma, the pace of evolution these days, especially in telecom is so swift that one can never afford to set his foot off the pedal, or he would get left far behind the others. Some years back, it was pager, then mobile, then black berry, smart phones, iPhones, the whole new generation and now these are the days of tablets, with a promise of a lot more to come in times to follow.

PAGE: THE BROADBAND INTERNET SERVICE IN PAKISTAN IS WITNESSING SHARP GROWTH AS THE NUMBER OF SUBSCRIBERS HAS GROWN BY MORE THAN 60 PER CENT DURING LAST FISCAL, WITH OPERATORS PINNING HOPES THAT THE CUSTOMER BASE IS LIKELY TO DOUBLE IN THE NEXT TWO YEARS. YOUR COMMENTS.

KHAN: Yes, certainly the broadband market is yet to reach its potential, as per the figures of PTA, as of September 2011, there were 111 million cell phone subscribers in Pakistan as compared to 1.66 million broadband subscribers. Broadband is still considered a luxury, some entertainment facility in Pakistan, and mostly people are using it for recreation purposes. There is a dire need that broadband service providers revisit their business model and make people realize the true potential and benefits of broadband, otherwise I feel that the conditions of economy may play a pivotal role in increase or otherwise stagnation in consumer base in the years to come.

PAGE: YOUR COMMENTS ON BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES FOR TELECOM COMPANIES IN PAKISTAN.

KHAN: We are living in information age, and telecom is all about information and its sharing, so its importance cannot be overemphasized. The days of mere telephony are over, a decade ago, the telecom companies have to broaden their horizon, especially the range of services they offer, and since 3rd and 4th generation licenses are on the horizon, we expect a lot from telecom companies. Though there is a stiff competition and price war between them, but I feel, still they may distinguish themselves by offering value added services, (as I do not see any sharp increase in the customer base in future) and thus setting a complimentary price for that exclusive service.

PAGE: HOW WOULD YOU COMMENT ON BENEFITS OF VIDEOCONFERENCING IN PAKISTAN?

KHAN: The main benefit is saving of time and hassle. The parties that need to meet to arrive at some decision may talk face to face via video conferencing without going through the hassle of travelling that is time consuming, inconvenient as well as costly. Moreover, that way the parties may contact each other many times a single day or on daily basis, if the need so arises. However, the quality of equipment and technology used is a very relevant factor because if the equipment is outdated or the link is weak or gets broken often, then one may not be able to truly appraise its potential benefits. Last week, I participated in a video conference at a PTCL facility and it was such awesome state of art. The communication with our colleagues at Islamabad was so fluent that we felt that our friends were just touching distance away.