Black Day, December 16, 2014
Adventures in Halvaland
It is not everyday that one wakes up to read the newspaper to find that the entire fleet of our above-the-stars molvis have been hospitalised because of something as sweet as the ‘halva’ 🙂
I laughed. I giggled. I whistled. Tears rolled down my cheeks because of the mere thought of the right wingers getting sick because of sweet halva. Now I know its not good to make fun of someone who has been hospitalized but the sheer joy of knowing that everyone from Mufti Muneeb ur Rehman sahib to Liaqat Baloch sahib had ended up being hospitalized because of eating halva put a big wide grin on my face which just wouldn’t go away since it was from the heart. The wide grin proved to be temporary as I quickly sifted through the list of the ulema to find out that our beloved maulana Fazal ur Rehman was not on the list. Dang!. How could this happen? Oh God…. why was he left out. A slight depression momentarily took over. I took a deep breath and worked on the Khwaja Saad Depression Removal therapy. After five deep breaths, I had recovered and the happiness returned.
Many sinister thoughts crossed my wicked mind. I thought if this was because of the clergymens misdeeds. I thought of the infamous sandwitches between which many a maulanas had been caught. I then thought maybe this was a divinely bestowed moment on all us Pakistanis to tell us that the insatiable craving that molvis have for the halva was indeed very much real rather surreal!
A little more research revealed that the halva presented to our star cast was black. Mian Aslam, whom I note always arrives in protests and processions in time and who always has a smile on his face was one lucky fellow as he merely tasted the halva and thus escaped the fate of his fellow clergymen.
All in all, it was the news that made my day!
Long Live the halva!
Government orders partial shut down of GSM network in twin cities during Long March!
Orders of shutting down GSM service have been recieved by GSM operaters. The orders were sent by the regulator (PTA).
According to a source at the leading GSM company in Pakistan, orders have been recieved to shut down the service in certain areas of the twin cities at 12 midnight today till further orders.
Mobilink Launches Wimax Service in Karachi
Mobilink launched it’s Wimax Services in Karachi. Branded Mobilink Infinity, this service will be competing directly with Wateen’s flawed Wimax offering.
Mobilink Infinity rates are quite reasonable. CPE Cost is Rs 12,000 (approx.USD 160) which is being offered at a subsidized cost of Rs 6000 (usd 85 approx). One-tme setup charges are Rs 2000 (usd 30 approx). These have been waived off at the initial launch. Let’s see how the Mobilink offering fares in Karachi.
Update linuxgeek has been using Mobilink Infinity in Karachi. Click here to read about his experience.
Diallog is a CDMA-based Local Loop operator in Islamabad/Rawalpindi area. Operating in the 450 Mhz spectrum, Diallog currently serves about 60,000 customers in the region. Diallog has been offering CDMA based 1x data since quite some time.
But now Diallog is all set to offer High Speed Data using EVDO (Evolution Data-Only). Mr Artem, the CEO, today showed us the combo Wifi/EVDO and the USB-based EVDO teminals. The EVDO can provide 2Mbps+ of downloads and 1.8Mbps of upload. On an average, a user can easliy get 500-600 Kbps of data throughput.
When this is launched, this is certainly going to become another alternative for bandwidth-hungry rambos like myself :-).
Combo EVDO / Wifi box ideal for home use. About 150 usd
USB-based EVDO terminals are also available in different forms. The problem with them is that the closer to the laptop they are, the more likely they are to decrease data speeds since the laptops are not that well shielded. If you have used PCMCIA cards for GRPS/EDGE on GSM networks (such as those from Mobilink, Telenor and the like), you will find out that their speed is not that good when you compare them with the thoughtput on the same network using a modem that is placed a bit far from your laptop.
USB-based EVDO terminals. True High-speed data connectivity on-the-go.
EVDO vs Wimax vs GPRS/EGDE vs FTTH
Diallog’s EVDO launch is definity going to be a lucrative option for bandwidth-hungry users. Compared to the GSM operators pathetic GPRS/EDGE performance, EVDO looks promising. I’ll try to get a terminal and do some testing. At the moment, I use Mobilink GPRS/EDGE which is offered for a flat Rs 500 / month (approx. usd 10) fee. Yeah, I don’t pay for it…
Mobilink’s GPRS/EDGE coverage is good on the Lahore-Islamabad motorway where Blackberry service is available all along the motorway. In Lahore, GPRS coverage is truly pathetic in Model Town where I live and EDGE is no where to be found in Lahore. But then for a flat 10 usd per month, this is not a bad deal. In Islamabad on EDGE, typical ping times to yahoo.com, for example, are 600ms-700ms at best and more than a second at worst.
Wimax is what I called a Future-Failure technology. No way is this technology making it to 4G. Already, due to Wateen’s greatly flawed rollout of it’s Motorola-based Wimax network, Mobilink has delayed the commercial launch of its Wimax rollout gearing for densely populated cities like Karachi and Lahore instead of Islamabad.
Telenor charges an exhorbitant amount of money for their EDGE connectivity since it is volume-based. So the more your usage on the internet, the higher the bill. Since the Telenor sites are all powered by newer Nokia-Siemens BTS sites, they are all EDGE enabled. I haven’t had a chance to try Telenor EDGE yet.
Warid Telecom BTS sites are powered by Ericsson which is also EDGE enabled. I haven’t had a chance (i.e. didn’t get time) to test this yet. I will test EDGE on both of these networks soon.
Nayatel FTTH remains the unbeatable value-for-money in the market at the moment. Not because I work for Nayatel but because of the technology. On my home FTTU connection, I get 5Mbps plus of data from the internet at which all these other technologies cannot shake their stick at :-).
If you need mobility and you are based in the Islamabad region, certainly the Diallog EVDO is going to be better than the GSM data counterparts.
You might have noted that I have not mentioned PTCL’s EVDO. From the looks of things, PTCL will be a dead horse within the next five years. It is unfortunate that it was sold to Etisalat which is a monopoly itself in the UAE and has no idea of what to do in a competitive market. I will do a separate piece on PTCL’s EVDO.
Draconian Cyber Law offers Capital Punishment
As if the situation in the ‘land of the pure’ was not ghastly enough, here’s something new in the offing from the Government.
No Electricity? No Flour? No Diesel or Petrol?
Stuffed in your room using Broadband Internet?. So, here is Big Brother’s new tool to keep you in your whims!
Meanwhile, download a copy of this dreaded Cyber Crime Law here.
The following table has been compiled from the 2006 Draft. As soon as I get hold of the copy of the final draft that was approved, I’ll reflect the changes (if any).
Click on the table below to see a summary of offences and punishments (sick!)
Alcatel-Lucent Committed to Pakistan’s Broadband Market
Oliver Laurus is Alcatel-Lucent’s new country manager and replaces Sid Taylor who has returned to the US. So we managed to catch Olivier at lunch to congratulate him on his elevated position. He was overlooking Commercial Operations before being made Country head.
Alcatel-Lucent is committed to the Pakistan market. Having just signed an MoU with Mobilink for depolyment of Wimax in Pakistan, Alcatel-Lucent also powers Micronet Broadband’s as well as Nayatel‘s FTTU Access networks.
Commercial Wimax deployments in the Pakistan market from Mobilink (powered by Alcatel-Lucent) and Wateen (powered by Motorola) will take off in the next six to eight months. Wimax does not require the PTCL Local Loop. So Mobilink and Wateen will be able to deliver services bypassing the PTCL last mile infrastructure that haunts the DSL service providers. (PTCL haunts them, that is 🙂 )
Wimax will mainly target Home DSL market customers using 256Kbps or 512Kbps volume-based services from DSL Service Providers. Mobilink and Wateen would also like to grab some of the PTCL fixed-line telephony customers. The Wimax CPEs provide POTS interface as well. However, Wimax will not be able to provide high quality Television. Corporate Customers requiring high-bandwidth circuits (typically 10Mbps and above) are likely to stick with FTTU.
Mobilink and Wateen both are in a position to bundle the Wimax with their existing Cellular services in order to come up with Attractive packages for the customer. Both are also expected to heavily subsidize the Wimax CPE cost to the customer. I expect the Wimax installation cost (including the CPE) to be in the 100 usd – 150 usd range. They are unlikely to give unlimited internet packages since the cost for Internet bandwidth is still a bit expensive in this part of the world with an STM-4 (622Mbps) costing around 70,000 usd per month.
PTCL meanwhile will continue switching it’s traditional telephony service to the new ZTE ONUs ensuring that no DSL operater will be able to provide services to its customers (sick!). So Wimax will be a boon for Internet users requiring upto a Megabit of bandwidth.
The Wimax CPEs provided by Wateen and Mobilink in the first phase would be fixed i.e. the terminals won’t be mobile. So, if you get the CPE installed at home, you cannot take it with you across the city.
Interesting times ahead i guess. By end 2008-9, Wimax might shrink the DSL user base. It depends on how well the Wimax players play their cards. The DSL users would be left probably with only one choice … the incumbent PTCL. Only the companies with their own Last-Mile infrastructure like Nayatel are expected to be alive in the next round of broadband offerings. Other DSL Players are likely to kick to bucket by then.