Articles

 

 

 

 

 

Management Information: Limit and Extent

Gaining New Ability
Export of IT Services
Data Communication in Nepal
The role of IT: Efficiency or Burden?
Sharing Multimedia Endeavor
Intelligent System
Memory Hierarchy
Emerging Technologies

   


Data Communication in Nepal

Published in CORE, Mar/Apr, 1995

 

Communication plays a vital role in overall development of a nation. Very often a country's development and standard of life of the people in that country is reflected by the communication facilities available in that country. Good communication services help to speed up the developmental programs, research work, planning and decision making abilities.


Data communication is the outcome of long development in the communication technology. It incorporates many aspects of computing and communications. Computers in network communicate with each other and provide various facilities such as file transfer, information sharing, resource sharing etc. Computer can open door to the information highway.


In Nepal, Data Communications is still in its initial stage. The importance and need of data communications have been felt by all the related quarters. Steps are being taken to use this technology and provide services so as to help the development of the nation. It is also known in business world that using good communication system means productivity and efficiency. Number of government, semi-government  and  public organizations, banks, United Nations groups, hotels etc. are in possession of computers. At present number of organizations use public switch telephone network with their own modems for dial-up to national and international data communications networks. Bulletin Board Services(BBS) provided by Computer Association Nepal ( CAN-BBS) is one of such services currently being operated. (It is discussed in greater detail Inter.)


Telephone company of a country plays a vital role in data communications. The infrastructure required to set up a link locally and with the rest of the world is equally important in the establishment of a communication system. Yet another factor is the manpower to monitor and maintain the system to run it smoothly so that the users can get a good service. We have collected information from various organizations in our country which are putting their best efforts towards making it work for rest of us.

 

Nepal Telecommunications Corporation (NTC):
Packet Switch Public Data Network in Nepal

While packet switching public data network had reached advance stage in some countries they are still concepts in terms of applications in countries like Nepal. To meet he need and to respond to the would trend of public data switching network, a packet switching system is going to be introduced in Nepal to the user by the end of April/May 1995. The packet switched public data network (PSPDN) of Nepal is being setup by Nepal Telecommunications Corporation(NTC) called NEPPAK which is a data communications service and offers the capabilities for linking up terminals and computers both locally and internationally to its customers. Also, the proposed network consists of an X.25, X.32 and X.28 services. The switch is to be installed in Kathmandu. Three remote access units at Birgunj, Pokhara and Biratnagar are provided with X.28 Packet Assembler-Dissembler(PAD) unit.
 

What is Packet Switching?

Packet switching is a data communications service for fast, reliable, flexible and cost-effective transport of information. Packet switching can be defined as "the routing of data in discrete quantities called packets, each in a specific format and within a maximum size". This technique differs fundamentally from circuit switching used in telephone/telex networks in that, circuits are not switched and dedicated to the users for the duration of a "call". In this case, the information to be exchanged between users is transmitted in packets which occupy circuits only during the actual transmission of data in a can be shared circuit: can be shared by other calls simultaneously. Packet switching enable error free transmission and dynamic routing of calls and interconnection terminals and computers at different speed and protocols. For protection against errors each packet is checked for errors at each node along its route and retransmission from previous node are ordered in the event of an error being detected.
 

Types of Connections

Nepal packet switching at present is going to provide four types of connections, i.e., ( 1) X.25, (2) X.28 leased, (3) X.32, and (4) X.28 dial up.


A customer with an X.25 connection can receive and originate several simultaneous calls to ther customers using special equipment (X.25, PAD, cards etc.) at their own premises. this is similar to the PABX connection of the telephone network.the telephone network. It offers high reliability through a sophisticated error detection and data retransmissions feature which ensures that everything sent is received. The speed of the connection can be 2400bps, 4800bps or 9600bps.


A customer with an X.28 leased connection can receive or originate one call at a time. This is similar to the normal connection of the telephone network. The customer can use any PC/terminal with appropriate communications software. The speed of the connection can be 1200bps, 2400bps.


A customer with an X.32 is the ideal service for users when low usage rates mean that permanent access is not warranted. It offers high reliability through a sophisticated error detection and data retransmissions feature which ensure that everything sent is received. This service can be used as a back-up to X.25 dedicated applications.


A customer with an X.28 dial-up connection can originate calls to other end using public switch telephone network. The customer dials a local telephone number of the exchange and set up calls using the telephone call.


Apart from these connections, a customer can get access to NEPPAK by calling a telex access port using the telex machine.
 

Facilities

When connected to NEPPAK, an user can get on-line access to thousands of national and international databases. NEPPAK offers the users with the facilities

a) Close User Group (CUG)

A CUG consists of two or more NEPPAK customers, who can initiate or receive calls between them. An user can belong to more than one CUG,

b) Abbreviated Address Calling

The alphanumeric characters can be used to be charged to the called address and this will save time.

c) Reverse Charging

This Facility enables the calls to be charged to the called party if he/she is willing accept the call charging for  calls made to his/her terminal or host computer.

d) Fast Select

This is to send small message in stanly in one packet which is quite useful in credit card system.

e) Connectivity

All NEPPAK customers will have access to each other because X.25, X.32, X.28 and Telex are interconnected with each other.


The installation of a PSPDN opens up a range of services e.g. Corporate banking, Credit card verification, Email, Telemarketing, Ticket reservation etc.
 

National Computer Centre (NCC):
Proposed Network Establishment

National Computer Centre(NCC) which recently celebrated its 20th Anniversary was established in Poush 15, 2031 B.S. The main objective behind the establishment was to speed up the development of the nation. At present, NCC is working on the following areas:

 

The network design, planning and implementation

NCC is giving main emphasis on this area. At present, it is in the design and planning stage of a RSS News Network, which will provide an on-line news service. If the proposed network be established then news can be exchanged efficiently and easily between RSS and various news agencies such as Radio Nepal, Gorkhapatra Sansthan, Nepal T.V. etc.

 

Software development both application oriented and generalised packages

In this sector, NCC is emphasising on the development of the generalised packages.

 

Training

A six month Diploma Course in Computer Science has been running to fulfil the high demand of trained personnel in this held.

 

Batch processing of data

NCC has been providing batch processing of data, (e g. S.L.C. exams) since a long time. It is one of the important services provided by NCC.

 

What does NCC plan to do in regard to Data Communications?

NCC, on the other hand is planning to become the National Information Centre, which will provide different sector databases both nationally and internationally. Not only, that, it wants to be the provider of E-mail services within and outside the country. The plan is divided mainly into two phases:

 

a. First Phase: Access to other Internet via NCC
In the first phase, NCC is planning to provide access to other International networks for which one need not be dependent upon India. Right now one has to go via India to access the same facilities but NCC will provide direct access to them. To achieve the very goal, NCC may establish it's own V-Sat with the help of UNESCO and then access the already existing satellites(which one will be decided later).


If the first phase be implemented then international information such as medical, tourism, agricultural, educational etc. will be accessed easily and cheaply through the computer network. An user can get an on-line access to international information and the government sector can also benefit from it, for example, National Planning Commission can look at the international databases and examine the budget allocation of foreign countries and decide upon our own budget allocation.

 

b. Second Phase: Development of the Data Bank
For NCC to become the National Informatic Centre it has to collect all the relevant data and develop the data bank. It will then be possible to provide all kinds of information such as tourism, agricultural, educational, population census etc. This information will be helpful to all international and national users and organizations.


The proposed network will largely depend upon the lines provided by Nepal Telecommunications Corporation. Since on-line information has to be accessed the lines should handle large bits-per-second so that the information can be transferred quickly. If the NTC also think of this the day may not be far when Nepal would not be as remote as it is today.
 

Computer Association of Nepal (CAN):
BULLETIN BOARD SERVICES(BBS)

Computer Association of Nepal is running a computer bulletin board service(BBS). BBS serves as a medium for computer users with modems to exchange information from the comfort of their home or offices. A computer user with a  modem, terminal(Macintosh IBM Compatible or UNIX dummy terminal) and communication software can dial BBS at any time to view existing information, ask for help, answer a call for help or post new information.
 

What services can CAN BBS provide?

1. Teleconference
Teleconferencing simply allows several users to converse with one another over their terminals. Whatsoever one user types is send to all the other users, identifying the sender.


There are distinct advantages over voice conferences such as many users can participate, the conferee's voice does not fade when too many are on the line, each conferee can automatically capture the complete transcript of the entire conference, all messages will eventually get through and private messages can be passed between conferees.

 

2. Electronic Mail
Users can leave messages for other users or write messages for Special Interest Groups. The recipient will be notified of the mail, can read it, review and edit it and delete it as well.

 

3. Classified Advertisements
Users can advertise the sale or need for items or services. Other users can view the ads and respond to them. Later, the user who placed the ad receives the responses when he/she logs on the computer.

 

4. Information Centre
This service provides information on the various topics:

  • A log of users who have recently logged of BBS.

  • Other users on the system and menu options they are using.

  • Description of the hardware used on BBS.

  • description of the software.

  • List of users who have signed up for RES.

5. Special Interest Groups (SIG)
A Special Interest Group is a message database for users to exchange messages and files, and to hold conferences on a specific topic. hn user's particular problem can be posted to the appropriate SIG so that other interested persons can read the problem and suggest solutions.

 

6. Registry of Users
This part contains information of the users who have signed up for Registry on voluntary basis. Users can access this information to send letters, information about products etc.

 

7. Polls and Questionnaires
    Users can either place questionnaires or respond to the questionnaires placed by other users. This is done on a voluntary basis.

 

8. Multi User Computer Games
Various users can play games.
 

How to access the BBS?  

  • Dial the phone number 526667 using any communication software e.g. ProComm, CrossTalk etc.

  • Once the connection is established, a menu with the various available services will be displayed on the screen. These services can be accessed free of cost and you will be guided by the software. You may require the following universal user commands.

 

?<Return> Help 
X<Return> Exit. You will exit to the first menu. 
<Ctrl-S> Suspend. Tapping any key resumes the output. 
<Ctrl-O>Abort Messages. The flow of text from BBS is chopped off. <Return> Abort Output from BBS. 

 

BBS Specification:

CPU (IBM Compatible), Internal Hayes Compatible Modem, baud rate 2400bps and a telephone line.
 

Mercantile Office Systems:
E-Mail Services

It may come as a surprise to most to learn that e-mail services have been available in Nepal for the last one year.


Mercantile Office Systems(MOS) which is the only ISP (Internet Service Provider) in Nepal, started its e-mail services one year back with 3 single 386 computer as its e-mail server, running a UNIX operating system and with one person to man it. Today the a-mail department of MOS has four 486nX running UNIX operating systems, dedicated to e-mail services and a manpower of five, to man the systems and give customer support.


The servers within the department and the organization are networked using the IPX and TCP/IP protocols.


Clients using e-mail services are provided with UUCP(Unix to Unix Copy) accounts with only a few being given terminal accounts. With UUCP accounts clients connect to the e-mail server at MOS only for the transfer of mail. Other functions like reading, composing and editing messages are done off-line on each clients computer. UUCP connectivity is provided for both single users as well as organizations that have LAN's of their own.


At present MOS is providing e-mail services only but in the near future it plans to provide other services like telnet, ftp and remote login etc. SLIP/PPP (Serial IP/ Point to Point Protocol) connectivity will also be provided.


During the last one year of operation, two major steps were taken MOS to provide a better and reliable e-mail service. One of them was to obtain a domain name for Nepal. The second was the switch over of connecting point from India to Australia. Initially, mail from MOS flowed through the Education and Research Network (ERNET) of India. But due to the unreliability of the network and also because there was a need for the establishment of an identity of its own for Nepal the changes were made.


Now the transfer of mail is done every two hours to Australia. Where as with the setup with India, mail was transferred only during the night causing significant delay in the de livery and receipt of mail.    

The charges for E-mail Services provided by MOS is as follows : 

 

Type A 

 

 

6 Months 

1 Year 

Subcription Charge 

 

 

per E-mail address 

3000 

5400 

Transaction Charge

Rs. 25 for the first2K( 2048 bytes) 

 

 

Rs. 20 for each additional 1K 

 

 

 

 

 

Type B 

 

 

6 Months

1 Year

subcription Charge 

 

 

per E-mail address

Rs.5000

Rs. 9000 

Transaction Charge

Rs.20 for the first 2K(2048 bytes) 

 

 

Rs.15 for each additional 1K 

 

 

 

 

 

Type C/Corporate Rates 

 

 

6 Months

1 Year 

Subcription Rate 

 

 

per node

Rs. 10000 

Rs. 15000 

Fixed Rates

Volume/Month

Charge upto

 

500 K 

Rs. 6000 

 

1MB 

Rs. 8000 

 

1.5MB 

Rs. 12000 

 

2.0MB 

Rs. 16000 

  • Email to othe users on the network is free. Only International mail is chargeable.

  • There is no connection time charge.

  • Calculation of each email message is done separately.

  • Installation of the meial software is provided by MOS is done free of cost only once.

  • Bounced mail is chargeable.

  • All international mail received is chargeable.

  • All international mail received is chargeable.


The various types of effort made by the mentioned sectors and commendable. Not only these, RONAST was also conducting e-mail services and Unlimited Software Network is also running its one BBS to provide its clients and others the required plat form to exchange information. These types of endeavor initiated by different sectors must be appreciated by all the concerned people and help them go for the proper network establishment in Nepal.

^