Pakistan capable to lead ICT world from the front: Amir

Amir Malik is currently leading COMSATS Internet Services as Chief Executive Officer. He carries with him a long and rich experience of diverse fields of ICTs while remaining in senior positions in various organisations of both public and private sectors.

During his recent interview with Technology Times, he spoke in detail about his future plans as well as the ICT potential in the countr.

Q1: Tell us briefly the highlights of your background?
Ans: I am currently working as Chief Executive Officer, COMSATS Internet Services (CIS). I have also served as Member IT at the Ministry of Information Technology, Managing Director at Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) and Chief Executive of Pak Datacom Limited, Pakistan. I have previously worked as Head of Regulatory Compliance at Ufone, PTML and at Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) in the capacity of Director (ICT). Recapitulating my previous professional work experience, I worked as Senior Technical Support Consultant at SAP AG, Research Engineer with Air France, Smartcard Programmer at Schlumberger and Site Installation Engineer at Alcatel CIT.
I completed my Bachelors of Electrical Engineering from National University of Science and Technology, Pakistan with Honors. I then went on to complete my Masters of Computer Science and Telecommunication Engineering from ENSIMAG, INPG France with Honors. I also have distinctions in Intermediate and Matriculation examinations from Lawrence College, Ghora Gali Murree.
Q2: Which are the various sectors you previously worked for?
Ans: I have a vast experience of working in various sectors; Electronics Industry, IT and Telecom Sector, Airline Industry, Regulatory Authority, Policy Making Body and Petroleum Sector.
Q3: What is the future of Wireless Broadband do you see in coming years in Pakistan?
Ans: Wireless broadband aims to offer universal access and Always Broadband Connection (ABC) services at any anytime, at any place, and across varied networks using any terminal. It is clear that only a hybrid wireless network is needed to deliver a mobile, economical broadband service. The handover between heterogeneous networks to hybrid networking will remove restrictions on enhancing applications and performance that occurs in only uniform networks. By using a single terminal based on open wireless architecture the end users can drive through network boundaries and then enjoy broadband services and applications anytime, anywhere, and through any network. The real end-to-end application of wireless broadband will happen after holistic technological development allows a single terminal to flawlessly roam among various networks of different standards. This will be a positive accomplishment, and is a bright vision that motivates industry players.
In future wireless broadband networks, an open terminal, or Intelligent Internet Device, will act as a portal. It will incorporate services and provide customer experiences. Intelligent Internet Device can access networks through different air interfaces and use only one widget for a given service application, including voice and data services. We can also predict that in future wireless broadband market the conventional telecom operation mode that only provides a voice service will vanish. Streaming media will play an even more fundamental role in data services. The ARPU of streaming media will be replaced by other indices such as average bandwidth speed and the average bandwidth consumption per month. In addition, a greater range of business models will accommodate ARPU of data services. Listing services top-down in terms of requirements on network transmission quality yields the following order: online games, real-time videos, voice services, streaming media, web browsing, and non-real-time services. These services have different requirements for network indices such as jitter, delay, bandwidth, security. Streaming media most closely bonds the requirements of subscribers and the provisioning potential of networks. As a key broadband data service, it will no doubt enhance reputation among subscribers, and use the major share of bandwidth resources. Spectrum resources will be the key in future, these high quality spectrum resources will be regularly released for new communication technologies. In deliberation of market competition and speculation protection, HSPA and WiMAX will form considerable wireless broadband technologies in the coming years.
Q4: What are your primary customer segments and corporate sector? What is the service portfolio offered by COMSATS to clients?
Ans: CIS offers diversified services including wireless broadband, Fiber-optics, web development, Tele-health services, and specialized training to name a few. There is still a lot of potential in the internet market. My focus is going to be on building a stronger portfolio for the company. I am interested in expanding our customer base and bringing in new services to enhance user experience. CIS is currently working towards Infrastructure development and expansion. Right now our main focus is to target major corporate clients across the country not only for wireless broadband but also for Data Center and value added services.
We have a great team here at CIS and I look forward to come up with creative solutions that will appeal to a wider range of users. My main motivation is to ensure COMSATS Internet Services stays the best ISP in Pakistan in terms of quality of services and support which will InshaAllah exceed customer expectations.
Q5: What are the highlights for the recently launched VPS services by COMSATS? Do you see potential for cloud computing in Pakistan?
Ans: Customers can save on investing over expensive hardware; Virtual Private Servers provide flexibility in choosing hardware according to exact requirements in terms of storage, memory, and process power. They may upgrade or downgrade according to the workload at any time. VPS is one component of Cloud computing, and the products associated with cloud computing have great potential in coming days.
We have already launched VPS servers and are offering managed as well as unmanaged VPS packages. Both national and foreign customers are availing our VPS facility. CIS is currently offering IaaS infrastructure, VPS and SAN to corporate customers, and we are planning to add more hardware in our data center. So far, we have received a very positive response from customers. We aspire to further our SaaS and PaaS services; since we realize the importance of cloud computing for internet in the future.
Our dedicated Customer Support offers 24x7x365 service and we can proudly say that it is highly appreciated by our customers. We also have a feedback mechanism to get valuable inputs from our customers as to what kind of services they would like to see from CIS. We definitely plan to fortify this area.
Q6: How is COMSATS Internet Services serving the community?
Ans: COMSATS Internet Services launched its first Tele-Health clinic in April 2013 in Pakistan. Tele-Health is a social service from CIS where patients from remote areas get free Tele-Consultations from doctors and specialists sitting at CIS headquarter using video conferencing and Tele-Medicine equipment. We not only have the latest digital equipment but also have a well-qualified medical team for giving treatment to patients via video conferencing. We have setup the Tele-Health centers in all the four provinces of Pakistan. Around (Twenty thousand) 20,840 consultations are being given by all Tele-Health clinics. Our goal till the year 2015 is to establish 19 centers under the CIS TELE-HEALTH PROJECT. Up till now we have established 6 centers successfully, which are fully equipped and functional. We are now heading to bring specialist consultation at our centers to assist the patients.
Q7: Summarize your opinion for the betterment of ISPs?
Ans: ISPs are de facto gatekeepers of the internet; a position which brings with it some considerable challenges. ISPs are the original internet companies in as much as their services were necessary for the internet to reach the critical mass of users to make it the ubiquitous and ever growing phenomenon it has since become. As a business, ISPs have to focus on providing a reliable and high quality service to its customers as well as delivering a good return on investment for its shareholders. ISPs frequently compete with each other based on their speed of connectivity; therefore the introduction of broadband internet heralds an improved internet experience, especially for the bandwidth hungry multimedia content and applications.
Several developments around internet infrastructure, and innovative content services, may offer yet another option for ISPs to evolve into something more. One such development, i.e. the impending adoption of IPv6 connectivity promises several opportunities to improve internet experience by resolving the threat of insufficient internet IP addresses and removing the need for a network address translation service. Similarly additional security measures that can be taken by ISPs to protect online activity against Man-in-the-Middle or cache poisoning attacks; for instance, Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) suite can be used for securing certain information provided by the Domain Name System (DNS), as used on Internet Protocol (IP) networks.
This progress, along with ever faster internet connectivity, could help provide ISPs with the means to deliver a guaranteed quality of service, which is particularly attractive for high bandwidth, content and internet broadcast propositions. Finally, and perhaps most crucially, is the ability to better enable dynamic business models for ISPs and online content providers; the latter may no longer need to operate their own content delivery networks if ISPs are positioned to do this far more cheaply, and with a guaranteed quality of service.

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