Booming Internet telephony market
PESHAWAR- Like most other towns and cities computers and phones have made considerable inroads into the communications market of Peshawar.
With a large population of Afghan refugees and those who’s friends and relatives live abroad, people throng the internet/cyber cafes to communicate with them.
If it weren’t for the refugees’ relatives abroad most of the Internet clubs would have closed down by now, said one netcafe owner. The passion was at its peak when people were calling up places in North America and Europe for the cost of a local telephone call, with a little extra for Internet usage.
The process of routing calls over the Internet, rather than using the traditional phone lines, goes by many names: Internet telephony, IP (Internet Protocol) telephony, Telephony, Voice over IP (VoIP) and e-calling.
Most experts agree that some day, voice, text, video and audio will all travel over IP networks to homes and businesses around the world.
Today, the single greatest benefit of moving voice over the Internet is cost savings. However, as the technology matures, new highly- personalized, intelligent applications will be developed, providing customers with exciting new ways of communication.
These sites were being run mostly on advertisements, like hotelephone.com and dialpad.com with a few offering special packages and fewer connection problems if one paid by credit card for special usage packages set according to the usage you wish.
Originally, PTCL, in order to hold on to its monopoly and the lucrative international calls revenue market it was losing, banned access to these websites from its Internet provider Paknet. This scheme backfired when competing ISPs did not enforce a similar ban forcing many Internet users and businesses having dealings abroad to switch over to the other ISPs in Peshawar.
This un-innovative approach to new technologies continued for quite some time till the present science and technology minister Dr Ataur Rehman took over, and agreed to allow PC-to-phone (or Internet telephony as they say) communication.
Most of these free services, with the exception of Hot telephones who are no longer able to handle the massive load on their website, were discontinued after stock market prices in IT companies collapsed.
The few remaining have now gone commercial…and knowing the problems people might face in payment via credit card (as well as the related security risk) they launched their own card system, where you pay with a pre-paid card which you use when you install the programme.
The most popular PC-to-phone programme nowadays is net2phone. The cards are available at around 10 dollars to 25 dollars in Gul Haji plaza, on University Road.
The savings can be judged from this simple comparison. An ordinary Rs100,000 telephone card will last 10 minutes’ conversation to for instance the United Kingdom.
But, a similar Rs700 Internet card could last-for more then three hours.