PTCL's Smart IPTV – Service Review

Thanks to Mr. Mudassar Jehangir, Editor-in-Chief, More Magazine, who did this service Review of “PTCL’s Smart IPTV” and allowed me to post it here.

I received two calls in the third week of August from the sales staff of PTCL confirming from me the order of “Smart IPTV connection”. Before the installation, my telephone line was checked by the staff to confirm the signal strength.

IPTV won’t run properly if data downstream and upstream value is lower than 10 in your phone line. In case it is less than 10, the transmission will be jerky.

The installation was just a process of 1 hour. My old broadband modem was replaced by the new modem of Huawei. From the modem you can get two CAT 5 (network) cables for the out put. One goes to the computer for the internet connection and other goes to the set-top box, a device which makes the transmission possible. Technically, set-top box (STB) is a device that connects to a television and an external source of signal, turning the signal into content which is then displayed on the television screen.

The old PTCL logo was visible on the top left corner of the box which revealed that the smart IPTV project was designed to be launched in the year 2006 and it must have been put on hold due to certain reasons.
To activate the STB, there is a content security IRDETO ZETA smart card which is inserted into the box to unlock the transmission. Basically this is the card that makes possible the desired TV contents and the revenue. For the information, IRDETO is an Amsterdam based company which is into Digital TV content business since 1969.

Once the card is inserted and STB turned on, same old PTCL logo appears on the welcome screen which confirms the project’s roots back in 2006.

At the start, the main menu screen provides options to choose either live transmission or Video on Demand (VOD).  The pause and rewind option is available for few of the live channels. Currently PTCL provides a reverse transmission for 2 and half hours which it plans to extend for more hours in the future.
Overall the quality of live transmission is impressive and unlike conventional TV cable the result is High Definition from 1st to over 100th channel. Initially PTCL had announced a free service of IPTV for 15 days which it has extended for one more month just like it did with the broadband services.

The Video on Demand (VOD) section requires more attention as the already saved movies (both Hollywood and Bollywood) on the server are obsolete, it is bearable for a temporary period but very soon PTCL will need to update its database and include new collection because it is a paid section and subscriber is required to pay Rs. 50 every time he/she select and item.

The service also allows parents to lock and unlock any channel, and allows users to search for their movies and TV shows by title and cast listing and then watch them on-demand.

Smart IPTV service is only possible on places where PTCL broadband is already running. Homes or offices where broadband connection is a requirement, Smart IPTV will be a point of attraction. On a 1 MB connection the total monthly fee becomes Rs. 2300 provided you have purchased the Set Top Box for Rs. 9995.

PTCL was smart enough to start selling the broadband connection well before the IPTV launch. According to company’s statistics it has sold more than 50,000 broadband connections so far. The prospects of selling IPTV connections are therefore higher on already installed broadband connections.

Only time will tell how quickly it can become a replacement to the conventional cable which still cost Rs. 100 to 200 and has huge acceptability among masses. The availability of service largely depends on the condition of copper wire that goes to the customer’s premises.

Tech and telecom reporter with over 15 years of experience, he works as founder of ProPakistani.PK

  • I really want to check what is your phone line condition. They are not installing at my place saying its all copper and can hardly support 512kbps let alone 2mbps. My neighbour uses the 2mbps connection from PTCL and the line engineers in the area are damn lazy.

  • i think this is gr8 …

    1 mb connection n having lots of features .. only for 2300 rs per month ..

    sweeeet …i love this …i love Pakistan .:)

  • Has anyone installed this on more than one TV set yet? Do PTCL charge the full 9995 for each additional TV if you want to watch different channels on the other tv?

      • @Faraz Feroz, Thanks Faraz, i figured this would be the case. There’s no real technical way around this issue either is there?

  • Myself applied for smart tv later a confirmation call was recvd and likewise on 16-0ct at 7.27pm a msg from 598 for tks was recvd in which they informed user login ID and password and also informed “You wil be happy with our services”
    A week after I enquired by phone and was told that ur concerned tel office cancelled ur connection which is without informing me next day I went to their office at Johar town the concerned gentleman was not available but another gentleman explained me that the cable is very old and smart tv cannot be fixed I am already using ADSL which is good leaving behind the server problems
    None of the ptcl department had informed me about the cancellation or not providing me the service which is a very bad Administration fault they should have informed me for delaying or cancelling the service
    Who is Responsible ? but noone cares
    This is not the only but there are many problem here but Noone cares

  • Its been two months since I am (so called) using the ptcl smart TV, and It doesnt worth Rs. 2
    its useless
    the picture is to jerky, the customer relation officers at 1218 are very sweet and talk to you very confidently but NO ACTION, i just wanted to say a thing..why they installed it in my premisses if there were some wire/line problem,
    anyway… I am not satisfied with the service at all

  • Free service til Dec, end
    Ptcl is Gov. Orgination the Seniors sitting who are making improvements on commercially Do they think of making improvement to the old cables Certainly NOT Did they ever plan to make their line secure I mean the connection lines from the DP to the subscriber
    I think the divisional exchange authorities would never had get time to go around their area for checking purposes
    I know my area cable was laid new one but for more than 3 years no one cared for the joints which were open and creating problems for the subscribers as weel including the staff
    Stil many connection are used from left to right and right to left
    Which is wastage of cables although the poll are mentioned for that certain area but never used at the correct point
    I already applied for this service and until today NO One from the PTCL staff had informed me for the cancellation of this service due to weak cable atleast they should have made a cal for not supplying this service
    My msg for this is already posted above
    In my young age I use to hear this saying (Agha Dor Pecha Chorh)

  • there are gap areas in the copper wires that do not fulfill the requirements for a 3 mbps connection. PTCL is working on providing IPTV on optic networks and will be soon available at a much better standard. Even for copper wire issues, new HR is being trained to serve the customers better and the subscribers will experience a better PTCL in a couple of months. By the time this service is charged for, it will be a pleasure to pay for

    • @Majed,

      These are lame excuse my DSL is working properly How come the wire problm I think the cable authorities may have approached them for not installing bcz of their businee otherwise ….
      On the other hand I am entitled to have this box free of charge may be this the reason they are avoiding
      Etisilat … they are surely here to gain some thing and not to loose this is not enough to say but when U say this U should know their working strtegdy I am well known to them They are providing the connection for any of their item listed within hours not days I have used their service for Eleven years without a single day complaint Lame excuses are our TRADITION everywhere the new comer wil blame the older one

  • Then main problem of PTCL is no work at LINE.. 30 years old line in ground and no maintanence.. call center agents just forward the complaint. and no action to check the line.. you gays directly call to manager call centre at lahore and karachi.
    Shahid PTCL

  • The article is something very good stuff to read for deciding whether one should get the service or not, but in fact i am in search of some arguments about the market acceptability of this IPTV service of PTCL.

    • @Assad Iqbal, thanks for your appreciation…

      About acceptability, see, such services gonna see hike in coming days, IPTV and DTH are going to replace conventional cable operators, and it will take some time – depending on ratio at what prices goes down.

      Currently, prices are not acceptable, especially upfront cost, but with time, as more equipment manufacturers will step in, this upfront cost, as well as monthly rental will go down. That will be the time when masses will start transiting into IPTV.

      By the way, IPTV got good response in early days as well.

  • Everybody knows about the lines , But there are places where the lines are fresh this is not the problem Why the Higher authorities do not think about this before launching any programme
    All this should have to checked and repaired earlier again is the case WHO CARES
    Sure the the newly appointed staff must be u under training but I can assure U theynwill also be doing the same as the elders are doing 2ndly the older staff should have given some instructions
    Look at the Chief Minister himself standing on the roads and other places asking the authorities about the neglegencies but Why not the every concerned department think about their responsiablities . We as a muslim are ready to fight but never feel and think what lession has been given by our Prophet
    I really dont want to hurt anyones feeling

  • There are a few realities I have shared on my blog. Obviously Etisalat did not come in to just loose money here. They are concerned and they are investing in upgradations. but chage does take some time
    hopefully the service will not take more than a quarter to come up with some exceptional developments. I can comment on a lots of things here but i guess only seeing is believing
    I try putting in the news online when ever possible and u’ll find more attractive changes coming soon


  • I agree that the IPTV is a revolutionary product, but……………………..
    its useless until we get the good service
    my IPTV service is not working since months im compalning regularly
    the agents forward the complain… in my case
    lineman are more responsible than the DSL team,
    lineman came to my area but no one gave a visit from DSL TEAM,
    the lineman said there is no problem in the line … MAXCOM is working fine everywhere but PTCL has low quality modems etc,,,he also phoned and forward the complain to the dsl dep. and said that they will visit you next day….but………. no one came to visit its a week now
    anyway.. i m still hoping to use the ptcl smart tv not the stupid tv
    apart of everything…. they should invest more to improve the quality rather than the advertisment

  • I must get in touch with the higher authorities to get this Free Smart Box this is my right
    Pls give me details to whom contact I mean email id and their contact numbers

  • I think PTCL want as many people as possible to apply for the smart box as they can then start charging them and collect revenues. Once they have managed to collect enough to cover the cost of the the smart box AND to service the cables, only then will the IPTV service work well. Until then I think we’ll have to put up with poor service. This is Pakistan ladies and gentlemen…nothing is free.
    You have a choice…poor quality cable, poor quality IPTV or expensive satellite tv which is of good quality.

    The philosophy in this case is just like everything else here – Those that have the money, have satellite, those that don’t…don’t matter!!

    • @Nasir Mahmood,
      Ptcl was charging for the Box but recently they have announced it FREE til end Dec Then why NOT every one should avail the facility of this free Box Rest about service they have to rectified the service for their business may be if being the Gov org. they left it going as it is but now V who are holding Dsl must get this service Box Free of Charge later they wil charge only the rental

      • @M.Saleem Sabir, you missed the entire point I was making. They WANT everyone to get the box so that they can start collecting fees from everyone. The cost of the box to them is only around Rs.3000 so thats 10 months approximately for payback and then they have a ready supply of people who are willing to pay for poor quality as they already have the box. Forget about seeing any major improvements in the service until at least a couple of years.

        • @Nasir Mahmood,
          There is a lot of difference in Private and Govt. organisation
          Private they want the job to done and done by all means and they spend money also so the staff has to work hard o/wise they are fired
          But in Govt. No one cares and No one can say anything even No one has the final authority to fire that Guy even if he is 100% wrong
          How can U expect the system will be changed in such a short time Impossible
          We already have lost 60 years U mean more 60 years well I cannot wait I am already 66
          On my cable Ptv is not connected to the right place connection and likewise other informative channels are everyday lost to the end where U can not get them back This all they do to watch rubbish dancing programmes

  • well…. PTCL smart TV is not that bad but the lines are not good and the staff is not trained enough… i called the line-man myself.. and asked him to listen the distrortion in my line..he said the line is just fine…there is no noise.. but i told him that there is a problem i can hear…i made him to hear that vibration in the line… then he agreed with me… i asked him to fix it..he said “sir itni to hoti he hai afterall these are old lines and has to be changed every year but in pakistan the department doesnt take any action about it”
    then i gave him an idea to swap the pear(connection) with our another line…
    now the problem is solved
    but this is not our job to guide them and tell them that there is a line issue..they should know about it
    Faraz Feroz

    • @Faraz Feroz,
      Pls read my comments of Nov 10th
      In my area all the cables are new and the development had laid and left the joints according to the houses on that road but the connections are opposite
      From original no body had got the connection all from other source far end
      This is a clear wastage of the cables Again NO ONE CARES this is GOV. property Lineman or the supervisor had nothing to pay from pocket Rest none of the staff from the department had ever visited for these irregularities and wastes bcz they are also from them

    • the customer service is terrible, and the people they send to install are illeterate, dont know anything about computers, cant install shit, they have a habit of saying that ” ye kaam aap khuddi ker lena, ye hamara masla nahi ha”

      well PTCL…GO F**K URSELVES !!

  • i am using 4 mb connection… :( not satisfied with it… only downloads @ 1987 kb/s i want more!! PTCL … hurry up … launch a 10mb TLS program… :)

  • I got DSL 512kbps installed about 3 weeks ago, hoping to run “smart” on it too. but even the dsl did not work properly. after all, had to get it disconnected!!

      • why not?

        as long as you have a valid ptcl smart tv id should work abroad. I dont think ptcl smart tv is smart enough to determine differnt ip range other than pakistan.
        if you disagree please explain with the reason

  • Dear all,
    it was 3rd june, 2009 and i have planned to watch pakistan india t20 match on my smart tv which i had installed two weaks back and watched it only for few hours.

    when i turned on it takes time in ….. logging connecting intezar famaiy blah blah.

    then i saw garbage on the screen like old video cds do.

    i went on first floor and resetted the router.
    then it started smoothly and after give minutes same problem.

    during this match was started and pakistan has lost 4-5 players i lost that part.

    i restarted the system and revind the geo super and was feeling it is like hell to me instead of entertainment and enjoy i felt it is hactic.

    i turned off the tv and dam box and went to my bed room and started watching on cable result was good and have 5 different options of channels to watch on same match and on ptcl smart tv it was only on geo super which was garbage.
    super sport was also telecasting without ads.

    today on 4th of june i have requested them to take back this foolis box and technology which is not appropriate for entertainment.

    take care all of you and have a good safe and secure day.

  • During my last week trip to Faisalabad, I visited display centers of SONY and SAMSUNG LCD/LED TV in the Koh-e-noor city. I asked them a question i.e. why we should purchase these LCD TVs as a replacement of conventional television sets. Both of them replied that these can be used for better results if we can get some digital television providers likewise PTCL Smart TV but the quality of service is not guaranteed. The salesman of Samsung display center has also shown me the demo of PTCL Smart TV on the LED screen they have had on display. The result was quite pathetic at its best even worse than conventional TVs running on cable.

    • i was asking the same question few days back, that whats the point of buying LCDs and HD tvs when there is no service to support them, i was told that evenn Ptcl smart tv does’nt work on HDtv, i think in pakistan the only option for HDtv owners is Dish tv, that also is avaliable illegally i believe..

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