Siliconistan

Tech gossip for the rest of us

Telenor takes the lead, offers Free 3G Trial

Telenor 3g launches trial service in PakistanIn a bold move, Telenor Pakistan has taken a lead by offering free 3G trial to its customers in some parts of Pakistan. The newly licensed 3G operator is sending text message to its customers asking them if they would like to try Telenor’s 3G service for free. Upon accepting the offer by SMS, customers are sent a confirmation depending upon 3G availability in that area.

It is interesting to note here that the free service is applicable for limited apps for now. For example, DailyMotion video streaming is offered free of charge under this offer.

Two days ago, Pakistan Telecom Authority auctioned 3G and 4G spectrum. Telenor is one of the four companies to get 3G license as others include Ufone, Zong and Mobilink.

To avail Telenor’s Free 3G Trial offer:

Dial *7799#

Apparently, KPK’s IT Ministry doesn’t have an email address

In Pakistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s provincial Ministry of Science, Technology & Information Technology does not have an email address listed on government’s official website. The website’s content management system shows up the email address field but it is empty and does not show up any email address. The page can be seen here and does not have email address information as of 4:00pm PST (Thursday, September 26th) – http://www.khyberpakhtunkhwa.gov.pk/Contacts/Contact-Details.php?FacilityId=85

Probably, the ministry needs to update the website and mention their email address in contact information so that people can reach them.

A screenshot in this regard is being published here:

KPK IT Ministry Email Address Missing

Screenshot taken from KPK government website where Ministry of Science, Technology & Information Technology does not have any mentioned email address

Also, when KPK’s IT Ministry’s website was further explored, it was found that the mentioned link to the said “IT Excellence Center” also shows a broken link (an unavailable page, technically referred as a 404 error). A screenshot of the said IT Excellence center’s webpage (linked from http://www.khyberpakhtunkhwa.gov.pk/Departments/DoIT/index.php) is provided below. The error can be seen as of 4:45PM PST (Thursday, September 26th) at http://www.khyberpakhtunkhwa.gov.pk/nwfpgov/Departments/itec/

IT Excellence Center KPK IT Ministry

A broken link (unavailable webpage) linking from KPK's IT Ministry website

Ufone enters web designing business

by Tariq Ali

Ufone enters web designing business - Website Builder800Rs per year per domain and 1200Rs per year for website designing and then put taxes on it

In a surprising move, Pakistan’s cellular operator Ufone (a subsidiary of PTCL and Abu Dhabi based Etisalat) has entered into web designing business  and stared selling domain names for 800Rs whereas the cost of website designing & hosting is 1200Rs per year (and put taxes on top of this as well). It is yet to be known if such a service comes under Pakistan’s telecom regulations or not but one thing is for sure the cellular operator instead of focusing on its Quality of Service (QoS) for its core voice & data services, has entered into a new business. Ufone calls the new service as “a unique website builder platform”.

Ufone’s website read “No longer is customer required to pay hefty fees to create a website and further pay excessive charges to maintain it.” whereas it is charging 100Rs+tax to every website owner. There are already cheaper web hosting and web builder services available both internationally and nationally that offer the same services cheaper than this. Also, according to a senior IT professional based in Islamabad, such a service can only be suited for very small scaled businesses. Any business that is looking for a flexible and technically scalable solution to run their website online will not go for such a service because you don’t get 100% freedom that you typically get with a web hosting package, he further added.

Ufone Website Builder charges

Screenshot from Ufone website showing fees it will be charging every month from website users

Risky Investment?

Interestingly, Ufone showed a website template with dummy business name as “Risky Investments” and the dummy address is “The Road Not Taken” on “Bankrupt Street”. Although the name kind of resonates with the service as the customer will have to pay every month almost the same web hosting fee that anyone can pay to a specialized web hosting provider, the dummy names also sound very non serious.

Risky Investments template at Ufone Site Builder

'Risky Investments' template at Ufone Site Builder

Imran Khan is the most popular Pakistani politician on Facebook (it’s official now!)

Most popular Pakistani politician on Facebook1.2 million vs 1.1 million – Imran Khan’s Facebook page beats Musharraf’s facebook page finally after a long competition on the largest social media platform

Although for a long time, Imran Khan has been termed as the most popular Pakistani politician on Facebook and other social media platforms, for some reason he was always having fewer fans than Pervez Musharraf on Facebook. In the last few months, especially when the general elections were near, Imran Khan gained big number of ‘likes’ on Facebook. At the same time, Pervez Musharraf’s Facebook page also experienced great response and the page was well marketed through organic means and paid advertising. But now Imran Khan’s official Facebook page has 1,283,059 likes and Musharraf’s Facebook page has 1,179,200 likes as of 4:50PM PST (Thursday, September 26th).

It is generally believed that Imran Khan is the most popular politician in Pakistan among youth in general and educated youth in particular. Because Facebook and social media users mostly belong to educated class, Imran Khan’s popularity can be seen there. Also, PTI was the first political party in Pakistan to tap the real potential of Internet and social media. A large number of overseas Pakistanis also stay connected to Imran Khan and his political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) through Internet. PTI has successfully used Internet to promote its ideology and mobilize youth in last 2-3 years. In this regard, PTI’s vibrant social media team deserves the credit in addition to Imran Khan’s own popularity.

Imran’s Facebook page screenshot is provided below:

Imran Khan Facebook page has highest number of likes in Pakistan

And here is Musharraf’s Facebook page:

Musharraf's Facebook page likes

The difference can be seen.

Pakistan’s telecom regulator gets new chief: Dr. Syed Ismail Shah

Chairman PTA Dr. Syed Ismail Shah

It looks like Pakistan’s Supreme Court succeeded in doing the magic as the government finally chose a chairman for PTA.

Pakistan’s telecom regulator – Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) – gets a new chief as Dr. Syed Ismail Shah becomes its chairman, reports ProPakistani.

Dr. Syed Ismail Shah was working as consultant and executive director at South Asian Cellular Forum. Before that he was member telecom at Pakistan’s Federal Ministry of IT. Ismail has also taught in various universities alongwith working with top notch technology companies in the past.

He did his Doctorate of Philosophy and Masters from University of Pittsburgh (USA) and Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering from UET Peshawar (Pakistan).

He holds immense knowledge and experience in the field of IT and telecommunications.

He was also a senior member of technical staff at Enabling Technology (an off-shore development house of a US based company AVAZ networks).

Supreme Court’s Role

It is interesting to note here that the post of Chairman was vacant for a long time and was very critical keeping mind Pakistan’s entry into 3G technology. 3G licensing is long due in Pakistan and telecom operators were eyeing Pakistan’s 3G market for a long time. Recently Supreme Court of Pakistan asked the government to appoint Chairman PTA as early as possible.

Coming up in Pakistan: ‘Google for Entrepreneurs Week’

It seems like Pakistan’s IT industry has become really vibrant as we are seeing lot of events happening in the past few months. One such event, coming up in first week of October, is being organized by Google in partnership with Pakistan Software Houses Association (PASHA) . It is actually a group of 3 events under the umbrella of “Google for Entrepreneurs Week Pakistan” to be held in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi.

Google For Entrepreneurs Week Pakistan Event Pakistan Software Houses Association (PASHA)

These events will consists of “tech talks” and following are official dates for these three events

  • Tuesday, October 1 (2nd half): Lahore
  • Thursday, October 3 (2nd half): Islamabad
  • Saturday , October 5 (2nd half): Karachi

If you want to register for this event, please use this mandatory registration form.

According to the official event page created on Facebook by Google Pakistan, here are three main topics ‘Google for Entrepreneurs Week’ will cover:

1. What’s trending for Online Entrepreneurs

Learning from Google experts on what opportunities are there for #entrepreneurs to grow using the online monetization solutions.

2. Winning in a multi-screen world

Learning how to tailor your monetization strategy in a multi-platform world. Our experts will share best practices on how to build and improve your presence on mobile.

3. Sustaining your business by delighting your users

Learning the key essentials to keep your #website and mobile #app healthy by focusing on positive user-experience and growing your traffic sustainably.

Google for Entrepreneurs Week is an annual week celebrating entrepreneurs and the anniversary of the Google for Entrepreneurs team. Googlers from around the world host events throughout the week, sharing their time and expertise with businesses, from tech startups in Berlin, small business owners in Johannesburg, to women entrepreneurs in Sydney. Google’s goal is to positively impact entrepreneurs globally by equipping them with the skills they need to build and scale their businesses.

Last year, 3000 entrepreneurs attended Google for Entrepreneurs Week events in 29 cities and 14 countries.

Jehan Aara, President of Pakistan Software Houses Association (PASHA) while talking to Siliconistan.com said:

Jehan Ara - President Pakistan Software Houses Association (PASHA)P@SHA is delighted to partner with Google in hosting Google for Entrepreneurs week. As more and more young people aspire to take the entrepreneurial journey, it is extremely important that they understand the need for a good monetization strategy and the importance of focusing on User Experience when building a product. This series of events will help to steer them in the right direction and will also highlight some of the opportunities that exist in the online space. P@SHA is committed to supporting the entrepreneurial eco-system in Pakistan.

- Jehan Ara (President P@SHA)

PASHA recently held its annual ICT Awards & Conference in Islamabad last week which was an impressive show as technology business leaders and aspirants were under one roof in Serena Hotel Islamabad.

Bill Gates meets PM Nawaz Sharif

Bill Gates meets PM Nawaz SharifMicrosoft’s co-founder and current Chairman Bill Gates met the Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif yesterday (24th September 2013) on the sidelines of the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. According to Pakistan’s Foreign Office, PM Nawaz Sharif shared with Bill Gates his government’s vision on science and technology promotion. In this regard, the Prime Minister highlighted the importance of IT and telecommunication sector, especially its job creation potential for the youth of Pakistan. The Prime Minister reiterated that his government is particularly committed to increase IT related exports, introduction of E-government Framework and establishment of Technology Parks.

It is important to mention here that the technology tycoon Bill Gates is now focusing more on social development instead of Microsoft and  he is also co-chair and Founder of Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation which is a partner of government of Pakistan in many social development projects. Polio eradication is one such issue where Bill Gates’ foundation is collaborating with government of Pakistan. In this regard, PM Nawaz Sahrif appreciated for Bill Gates’ continued interest and support for Polio eradication in Pakistan. The Prime Minister informed Mr. Gates that his Government had redoubled its efforts to ensure effective implementation of the National Emergency Action Plan to completely eradicate polio in Pakistan.

Bill Gates appreciated the efforts made by Pakistan in the last two years on polio eradication. He recognized government’s commitment to reach all Pakistani children with Polio vaccine for the eradication of this debilitating disease. Mr. Bill Gates thanked the Prime Minster for sharing his vision on further strengthening Pakistan’s IT and Telecommunication sector.

Here is a photograph shared by unconfirmed Facebook page of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif i.e. https://www.facebook.com/PrimeMinisterNawazSharif

Bill Gates meeting PM Nawaz Sharif

Facebook founder shares World Friendship Map

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and CEO, today shared an interesting image on his own Facebook profile illustrating Facebook’s world of friendship. White colored lines depicting friendship linkages are plotted on a blue colored world view map.

It is interesting to see how the world is connected today. China has very few Facebook based linkages as compared to other countries.

Here is the image shared by Mark Zuckerberg (click to enlarge):
Facebook World Friendship Map

Here is the screenshot of Mark Zuckerberg’s profile update through which he changed his cover photo and explained the image in a comment:

Mark Zuckerberg shares World Friendship Map of Facebook

Telenor Pakistan sets a new trend, CEO goes live on Twitter

Telenor Pakistan’s CEO Lars Christian Iuel goes live on Twitter as the company celebrated “Customer First Day” today.

Telenor Pakistan CEO takes complaints on Twitter

Telenor Pakistan on its official Facebook page yesterday posted the following update:

Yes, ‘Customer First’ Day is back and this time it’s bigger than ever. Although we serve our customers every day, ‘Customer First’ Day is a symbolic reminder to all of us that we are a ‘Customer Centric Organization’ and that we celebrate and value our customers as they are the heart and soul of our organization.

In the past Telenor has introduced many innovations that other operators followed later on. Produts like EasyPaisa (a branch-less banking service) and EasyLoad were also first introduced by Telenor and then the other telcos followed the trend.

PASHA held impressive show at ICT Awards 2013

Generally termed as a ‘dead city’ and an “event managers’ nightmare”, Islamabad is little known for IT related events. Usually when it comes to IT conferences, exhibitions or events of any sort, Lahore and Karachi are on top of the list. Pakistan Software Houses Association (PASHA) this time chose Islamabad for its annual awards ceremony bundled with an interactive conference. The event started on a bright Saturday morning (21st September) with conference packed with top notch IT leaders and the awards ceremony concluded as it rained the same evening in lush green Islamabad. Even the President of PASHA Jehan Ara got surprised pleasantly as she told the crowd they weren’t expecting a big audience as this one and that they were warned about low attendance as if it is the Islamabad of 90’s.

PASHA ICT Awards & Conference 2013 Islamabad

The event started with an interactive and insightful discussion on products versus services based business models in the IT industry.

Entertainment

IT events are considered to be boring and serious but this wasn’t the case at PASHA ICT Awards & Conference 2013. There were multiple entertaining parts including skits, music and standup comedy which made the whole event colorful and enjoyable alongwith serious tech talks.

Awards – Winners & Runner-ups

Here are the winners & runner-ups of PASHA ICT Awards 2013 Islamabad:

  1. E-Learning – Winner: Learning Suite 360 (360 Training)
  2. Security Applications – Winner: CERT Station Cyber Security Dashboard
  3. New Media & Entertainment – Winner: Scoop Excavator (Arbisoft)
  4. Financial Applications – Winner: CISSII (IT Minds)
  5. Research & Development – Winner: iHospital (CARE)
  6. Industry Applications – Winner: Magic Box 2 (AKSA-SDS)
  7. E-Government – Winner: GeReg@
  8. E-Logistics – BizzTrax

This blog post is incomplete and will be updated with more details shortly.