dimanche 17 août 2014

Many ways to Internet

This post is done with a GPRS modem of my Nokia 6510. This completes my usage of all the modes of Internet access available in India. I used the Plain Old Dial-up access, Leased Circuits of various speeds (at work ofcourse!), Cable (Crap), CDMA modems at 115kbps, and now GPRS at slow but cheapest rate. I describe my experience here.
Government Telecom companies are the most honest in this category, they haven't reached the bandwidth oversell threshold, since they have big-fat gateways to the hub ISPs of the Internet. They don't use the Innovative billing rules that are often used (mostly without informing the users) by Private ISPs. The general quality of service and reliability is good. Support is not very good, but for dial-up services the support is not much required, and good reliability of the service makes it not an important factor. Private ISPs on the other hand, are mostly into Billing fraud, you buy a 100 Hours package, and they charge you in innovative ways, -15 minutes for every connection, -2 minutes for every MB of download, -n minutes per hour if you are in a B-Class town (!!!), -n minutes if you dare use it during the peak hours, etc.. Speed is okay, most of the ISPs entered the business when Indian government started distributing licenses at the fees of 1 Rupee (2 cents US). These ISPs use bandwidth from Government Gateways, some do have their own gateways, but they use the submarine cables of government telecom companies. Those who use satellite links are the lousiest, you know the delay in satellite communication. Support is excellent, you get to a phone monkey very quickly, but they read a scripted dialog. No problem gets solved unless a number of people report the same problem, a lone caller with a problem is always shooed away. Classic BOFH material. Among the Dial-up ISPs, Government Owned VSNL which is now privatized and called Tata Indicom is the best and most professional (for ISDN too). In Private ISPs, Satyam is worst.
Leased circuits
Mostly reliable but very expensive. Equipment and installation costs are high, but it works well. Normally Government telecom companies budget the bandwidth separately for the leased circuits based Internet subscribers, and overselling is very less. At work, I have found a 2Mbps (advertised) leased line to be good enough for an office of 100 people. ofcourse, it depends on the usage, employee culture, and filters at firewall ;-).
In the cities, Cable TV providers and some ISPs have introduced the Cable Internet. Most of the ISPs use the local cable providers to run CAT5 (cheapest) cables between buildings, and put hubs and switches wherever necessary. In most cities the cabling is overhead, using the street light poles, so it is very much prone to weather and vandalism. On top of that, in case of a blackout (very often) the hubs and switches go down, so even if you have a uninterrupted power supply at your home you can't use the Cable Internet. In more annoying cases, switches and hubs are often installed at somebody's home in your neighborhood, and if that person switches off power to the equipment and goes on a vacation, you are disconnected from the world.
There is only one provider which gives Internet Access in most parts of the country using 3G CDMA wireless technology. The service is good enough, but not very attractively priced. There were reports on Indian rant sites, that access for only well-known ports is available, but I think they have rectified it. Support is not worth mentioning, I mean, it is a giant petrochemicals company that diversified into Tech business, what do they know about Customer Care?. This however is the best, and cheapest option for road warriors.
Its offered by almost all GSM providers, and it comes at a cost of nearly 500 rupees (12$ US) per month. Speed is less than attractive, but it works. I am using it from home, with no availability of a fixed Internet connection, GPRS at this cost is a good compromise. My phone is always connected to the Power outlet, and always pointing its IRDA to my Laptop computer. It keeps on checking my mail, and RSS feeds. At 12$ per month.
Update: A cell phone with active GPRS connection causes noise in your computer speakers, I am forced to mute the volumes on my laptop.

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