Tuesday, October 19, 2004

India: Broadband, Indo Mail and Open Sky

Last time I heard, Pakistan's broadband policy was to be announced two weeks ago. But what do PR managers for the Minister of IT know, eh? ;~) If you've seen any news confirming anything about the policy, do comment.

Meanwhile, the Indian broadband policy is serious about spreading the 'always-on' bug and getting 'Indo-Mail' back to India. Thanks to my friend Murali for the pointer.

From The Hindu news item of Saturday: "The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) will monitor the speed offered by the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and consumers can cite the broadband policy and take the ISPs to court if the speed is less than the minimum of 256 kbps. 'There was no broadband and no classification. We were stuck at the dial-up network stage. My feeling is that people using dial-up will migrate to the `always-on' 256 kbps. They are paying Rs. 1,000 per month for low Internet speeds. Our initiatives will bring higher speeds for less than Rs. 500 per month.' The broadband policy has also attempted to cut through red tape. VSAT dish owners can start operations one month after all the documents are submitted for approval."


Sikander said...

I'm a home user and i don't know much about the "very" technical stuff, all I know is that im extremely annoyed with my slow dialup speed and i desperately want to enter the world of broadband......or at least something that let's me download stuff a little bit faster, I can't imagine the fun it would be to play online video games and all the other stuff with fast Internet. I read a news in Spider this month which stated something like "10 new ISP's offering high speed internet access in major cities in two months".....hmmmmmm, I come across news like this every now and then, but I'm still stuck with the same old slow dialup! What is this news based Upon?

Teeth Maestro said...

Personally I think it just might be a fantasy dream to imagine that the Govt might move away from its cutback's and pass along a solid policy - there is always so much grey area (perfect place for cutbacks) that the users NEVER see daylight.

India I agree has a solid policy and you see the effects in the overall Indian Economy, Pakistan has to realize and reform our goal should be jsut like India - Internet in each and every home.

Who cares about making Internet cities in Khi, Lhr and Isb. I think we desperately need to look at the High Speed rates and imporve the dial-up speeds. Bring out something that is cheap enough that, at the minimum, any middle class person can get the high speed line - once you accomplish that then you can worry about restructuring the policy.

Im no expert so dont take me up on my words - Peace out

shobz said...

we need a good broadband policy. i envy my friend in chennai. he gets to pay 1200 bucks a month for a 1 mb dsl connection. why do we have to suffer????????????? why cant the government understand that people arent that stupid? its not as broadband is like fool's gold. its out there. all we need is a frickin policy which would remove all the stupid redtape and allow everyone to benefit. i fail to understand their limited thinking.

Merlinx said...

The issue is not just of policy and pricing, it is of infrastructure. I think the infrastructure is also affecting the pricing issues to some degree. I have 1st-hand experience with half the broadband providers in the market here as a customer and even after doling out some obscene amounts of money, I have yet to see anyone who can give me even the worst quality of broadband service available abroad. We need better infrastructure first that is widespread so consumer pricing becomes a non-issue and you can actually get good quality for your money too. And yep, the PTA and ministries should "free-market" things, so investors can put their money into better infrastructure first, then worry about "policying and policing" later else we'll continue to sit on the launch pad for the next few years.

AllahBaba said...

We are kidding ourselves here, right? Because if we are serious, this subject is not worth any of our precious time for another 2 years, but you don't have to beleive me, so go ahead, bash me for this.

I'll waste my 5 minutes: first of all, the popular 'broadband' offered here is not actually broadband at all (kindly familiarize yourselves). The 56.6 dialup jokers (if they're allowed to) can even claim broadband themselves too if they go anywhere near measly true 36.6 (even that not possible, ask them). Because the awaam don't even have the slightest idea what always-on 256 even means, so without having any point of reference, we'll always keep debating these fancy sounding 'connectivity issues'.

Free-market decentralization is the ONLY key for an industry that cannot even predict trends over next 6 months (most govt depts TAKE atleast a year just to furnish!)

Happy surfing! BTW, no offence meant to anyone but to the 'industry' itself.

Gist: The internet 'industry' in this country is just an excuse for former dairy farmers and tired cotton godown owners to make a quick buck. Beleive it for the sake of your sanity and save some of your energy!

Zunaira said...

Doom and gloom, AllahBaba? Anything new?

Totally agree with you ref. ISPs not offering adequate dial-up. Cyber gives 50.0kbps rarely. I end up with 38 to 40.0 most times. Beyond that would feel like broadband ;~)

Merlinx said...

About once a week or twice even, I get upto 65 Kbps and I mainly use WOL but the median speed is around 30-35 Kbps. Most Cybernet users don't go beyond the 40 Kbps barrier because just about everyone who has a PC in the major cities has a Cybernet account. The bandwidth is simply divided among too many users to get any better than this.

I don't think any ISP has more than 10 Mbps bandwidth available in Pakistan besides a select 2 or 3 perhaps. The bulk of the bandwidth is also usually sold to corporate customers in multiples of 64 Kbps via DSL, DDP, or P2P connectivity. The entire national pipe is now in the 300 Mbps range, after the last upgrade last year I think via the sub-marine cable, and that is the holy grail. That means there can be be a few dozen ISPs in the country at best. I know a few of the smaller ISPs even had 2 Mbps.

To calculate the average bandwidth availablity to you when you use a particular ISP, just divide the ISP's pipe by the no. of available phone lines. (E.g. 5000 Kbps/100 lines=50 Kbps per user during peak usage downstream.) I am talking about dialup because that is what most people use.

You also need to take into account what chunk of an ISP's total pipe is reserved for corporate accounts because what you get during dialup is what remains and ISPs reserve a huge chunk of their bandwidths for corporate services. During peak hours, when all phone lines are busy, that gives you the max. bandwidth available to you. This can vary because during offpeak hours, if not all the dialin lines are in use, you can probably get better bandwidth.

Secondly, it also depends on whether you are doing more upstream or downstream usage. Most people usually download so this is ok. However, if you are doing more upload intensive stuff, that would also be need to taken into account and usually the pipes for upstream communications are much smaller than downstream by strategy because more people download than upload data.

Also the govt. regulates that all outbound communications must go through PTCL. So your ISP could very well be getting his downlink from someone else but the uplink goes through PTCL. So your net experience might be slower if one link is slower than the other. It is all basic math.

The govt. needs a two-pronged strategy of increasing the national pipe substantially and also reducing the rates. For something like broadband to be successful, how can you give out 1 Mbps connections to the masses when the national pipe is around 300 Mbps? Again basic math: for even 10K broadband users in the country to be accommodated with an average of 256 Kbps per user account, you need a national bandwidth of 2.56 Gbps just to service these 10K broadband users. A far cry from where we are right now, wouldn't you say!

Spider does a lot of articles covering telecommunications stuff, maybe it should do a more quantitative article by researching these raw numbers and coming up with the existing plain-of-view as well as some projections on where we need to go for so-and-so needs. That would definitely open eyes and turn heads.

Teeth Maestro said...

Merlinx - an outstanding break down on the actual numbers - what SPIDER should actually do is something like a live polling of the connection speed for each ISP and then compile an overall ranking on the different ISP - almost like a BP on which service provider is providing a better service (be it speed or customer care) - In their sales pitch they all brag that they are the best but you never find out until you actually walk down tornado alley.

Merlinx said...

You're welcome.

You can run speed tests using a variety of freeware tools and services available on the Net such as www.bandwidthplace.com or www.dslreports.com. You can download several tools for this as well from downloads.com and tucows.com e.g. RxTx.

Zunaira said...

Yep, Spider should be doing all that and more.

SA said...


This is a ridiculous state of affairs. The speeds referred to here is NOT broadband by any strecth of the imagination.

Pakistan will not progress if it cannot provide accessible, affordable services above 1MB/s. I live in the UK and i pay £30 (about PKR 3,400) for a 4MB/s connection (unlimited usage) which has never suffered any downtime in the year I have been using it.

I was shooked to learn that the national pipe is only 300MB. There are many companies here that have that sort of bandwidth for their INTERNAL use.

This ridiculous state of affairs with third-world telecoms is actually stopping me from moving to live in Islamabad.

Who is to blame for this? One would guess governmental incompetence. 3 years ago, I was attempting to set up an IT services company in Paksistan and I tried contacting, by several emails, telephone calls and letters, many government departments, who were supposedly charged with 'Export Promotion' and 'IT'. I found their attitude utterly disgraceful. In general, I did not get any response from them whatsoever, and whn eI eventually managed to speak by telephone to one minister, my only conclusion was that he was a complete buffoon.

I eventually gave up and set up offices in Kerala, India, where the contrast in attitide and competence could not be more marked.

In my opinion, entire the Pakistan Telecom Authority should be comletely sacked; pakistanies, I beleive, are paying to pay the salaries of people who discharge their obligations by sitting in fancy offices drinking tea.

Those with the power to improve matters should be thoroughly ashamed.

I await a day when I can get 10MB DSL in Islamabad for PKR 5,000 or less. Until then, I am stuck in icey Europe.

Pakistanis: do not put up with this proposterous state of affairs.


KABEER said...

Internet Speeds.. I disagree with the Initiatives to bring Better speeds at Rs. 500.00. Companies in India are now bringing in free internet whereby only downloads would be charged. That's better hopefully.. It won't be more then Rs. 500 a month. Further those old ones "ALWAYS ON" are below Rs. 500.Not more then Rs. 450 at most of the places