ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) has unveiled ambitious plans to turn country’s telecom giant into a real ‘customer centric and customer focused’ business concern.

Sharing these plans and strategy in an exclusive interview with The Nation on Friday, PTCL’s Senior Executive Vice President Business Development, Hamid Farooq said these multi-billion-rupees development plans, currently being executed, are targeting various sectors including banks and corporations etc.

The following are excerpts of the interview with Hamid Farooq:

Q: How would you define Business Development for a company that has historically been seen as a basic telephony operation?

A: Historically PTCL had been seen as a basic telephony operation but PTCL had also been maintaining necessary national/international telecom infrastructure for the country. Business Development activities in saturated market having cut throat competition with a high number of cellular operators are obviously a big challenge. However, PTCL understands that the customer needs and preferences have been changing and PTCL had been adaptive to these changes. PTCL realized the increased demand of data and developed state of art and robust data network with highest growth rate in the region. PTCL has the privilege to introduce data services at corporate and consumer level. We have diversified our product portfolio and although basic telephony is still our core product but now we have augmented this core product in line with our customer requirements. Being incumbent operator, PTCL has advantage of developing technical expertise of maintaining telecom infrastructure and we have capitalized this advantage by offering wholesale services to other operators and to our corporate clients.

Q: Which entities and commercial targets PTCL aims to engage and achieve in its Business Development sphere?

A: PTCL aims to maintain its status as leading information and communication technology service provider in the region. We are focusing on corporate, consumer as well as wholesale segment to offer voice as well as data services. Being the leader in telecommunications in Pakistan we are committed to offer innovative solutions and extend technological revolution to our customers. Despite the current cutthroat competition in Pakistan telecom market we understand our additional responsibility to play our role in stabilizing the market.

Q: Please give us a review of the kind of services and products that PTCL is offering to its corporate clients.

A: PTCL being the only largest ICT and Telecom Infrastructure provider offering complete products suite is fulfilling the demands of enterprise and corporate sectors. Following are the description of corporate products:

1. Connectivity Products: PTCL business connectivity offers secure, reliable and integrated end-to-end domestic and global connectivity solutions to cater for the demands of corporate and enterprise users. PTCL’s connectivity products range includes a variety of corporate solutions for large as well as branch offices and small offices.

Leased Lines: Leased lines can be extended in local, domestic and international fashions over different media like copper, fiber, radio, CDMA and satellite.

Internet Protocol Products: IP based products include the Premium IP Bandwidth, Business DSL, VDSL, Business in a Box for SMEs, EV-DO Dongle, EVO Cloud, I Sentry - Security and Surveillance, VSAT, Virtual Private networks over various media like copper, fiber, radio, CDMA and Satellite.

2.  Voice and VAS Products: PTCL’s communication product portfolio is tailored to help business enterprises gain productivity advantages by offering a suite of powerful convergence, presence-enabled applications, and seamless fixed and wireless communications technologies. Plainly defined, PTCL solutions integrated telephony and IT applications in ways that make it easier to conduct business.

Voice Services: These include PRI - Primary Rate Interface (30 Lines), BRI - Basic Rate Interface (2 lines), Voice over IP Services.

Value Added Services: These include Toll Free Number (0800), Universal Access Number (UAN), Audio Conferencing, Video Conferencing, TelePresence, etc.

3. ICT and Hosted Products: PTCL’s Hosted Services for businesses delivers a combination of traditional IT functions such as infrastructure, security, monitoring, storage, Web development, website hosting and email, over the Internet or other wide area networks (WAN).

This approach enables customers to consolidate and outsource much of their IT needs for a predictable recurring fee. And PTCL being largest converged services provider integrate hosted services while giving customers a central repository to rapidly and efficiently distribute information and resources among employees, customers, partners and the general public.

Hosted Service extends the benefit of economies of scale and operates on a one-to-many business model, delivering the same software and services to many customers at once. Customers are charged on a subscription basis, with having huge Capex savings. This also reduces the technology migration risks for customers while giving them an opportunity to focus on their core business in a faster manner.

These include the Tier 3+ Data Centers, Unified Communications, Managed Services, Web Hosting and Hosted Email etc.

Q: What are your Business Development strategies for the future?

A: Customers’ satisfaction through improved service experience at affordable price remains at the core of PTCL future vision. By focusing the high value to volume ratio of broadband, PTCL will strive not only to maintain its leadership in both wire-line and wireless broadband but will continue to explore new positions, markets & capabilities in line with forward-looking strategic positioning for the business, and reflecting anticipated state of business.

Following are the core areas for future business development strategies:

1. Capitalize the data need of country through facilitating the corporate sector speed requirement (up to 50 Mbps), penetration into masses by introducing 256 Kbps DSL broadband to serve semi urban and rural areas by offering affordable yet faster alternative to dial-up service, offering high-speed wireless broadband with Internet speed up to 9.3 Mbps to capture on move data need, expansion of DSL footprint across Pakistan & EVO over 1000 sites.

2. Enhanced landline usage through innovation & quality of services with new products and services offering more value to the customers along with tariff optimization, innovative products for business solution e.g. date centers, Global IP Connect, Business in a Box - a small gateway device that provides broadband internet connection sharing, Firewall security, VPN connectivity, IP telephony, IP Camera Surveillance audio/video streaming and wireless LAN connectivity, better quality of services Next Generation Switching Network (NGN) using the MSAGs (Multi Service Access Gateway) is being completed for 1.3 million customers and started the transformation of network to GPON and new international packages, with addition of many global destinations.

3. Expansion of network for wholesale & IP band width, through commissioning of I-ME-WE submarine cable system, which extends from Asia to Europe terminating in France and spanning 14,000 kms and additional national backbone network of 1,700 Km of optical fiber cable.

Q: How does PTCL create, manage and leverage synergies with its mobile subsidiary Ufone?

A: Synergy department is committed to facilitate all internal and external customers of fixed line, Broadband and EVO by providing services such as common bill collection points, common Electronic Voucher Card for Ufone and PTCL customers.

Synergy is helping in areas such as joint procurement to get maximum discount, network infrastructure that can save OPEX and CAPEX. PTCL is also looking into the possibilities of sharing properties. Several options are being looked at on commercial/business side to create synergy.

Q: How does PTCL keep its competitive edge while providing carrier services to other operators in the country?

A: Being the largest integrated telecommunications service provider in the country PTCL keeps competitive advantage in the market place in the following manner.

Our aim is to be a carrier of choice for all operators by offering the widest range of services based on our extensive and reliable infrastructure present in all areas across Pakistan. This ensures that carrier customers get a one-window-facility for all their needs and do not have to manage multiple service providers.

Flexible and market aligned pricing of services. For international services, PTCL provides connectivity to our carrier customers through three (3) submarine fiber optic cables. PTCL’s IP network connects to global tier-1 networks for providing reliable and resilient Internet connectivity to our data and Internet customers.

PTCL ensures better quality of service compared to its competitors through a large pool of on-ground resources, which are mobilized quickly in times of service outages and other problems. In addition, PTCL possesses centralized network monitoring and management systems to monitor all aspects of its network operations.

Since PTCL itself is in the telecommunication services business, its carrier customers have the confidence that the technology and services being deployed to serve such customers is future proof and fully compliant with international standards to that effect.

Q: What are the scope, range and direction of PTCL’s International Business Relations?

A: Being leading player in this segment, our focus is to maintain robust and diversified international connectivity through various mediums including satellite and submarine cables. We have invested in various submarine cables that connect Pakistan to rest of the world and PTCL is offering this connectivity to other operators in Pakistan as well to support their operations. We are constantly working to increase data bandwidths at reduced prices. We are offering voice and data services at corporate, wholesale and consumer levels.

Q: Apart from corporate sector, what broadband options PTCL is offering to the students?

A: PTCL has launched a new Broadband Student Bundle Package with free voice minutes included. In addition to PTCL’s existing Broadband Student Basic Package, the new Student Bundle Package with PSTN includes 1Mbps broadband connectivity with unlimited downloads, 150 free voice minutes and buzz entertainment portal, all just for flat Rs.999 per month.

“PTCL has taken this initiative keeping in view the need to provide our youth with easy and economical access to high speed broadband Internet, thereby expanding their knowledge, skills and productivity.

“Such a package will make the usage of high speed unlimited Internet not only affordable for students but also give them the liberty to download unlimited infotainment material, along with free minutes to call on landline numbers.”