I bet this is going to be more frustrating than dealing with Airtel Presence folks. I am prepared for the worst. At least I have a backup connection that is working even though it is costing me a fortune.
So, I applied for a new broadband connection on an existing landline connection today.
Found out some interesting things about how airtel has changed over the last couple of months/years.
Airtel no longer handles the hardware and installation process. It is outsourced to Beetel. Beetel takes money directly from you for the modem/router/telephone instrument.
This money has to be paid in cash I believe as it would be delivered on the spot. There is no option to pay for it through your next bill. You get to pick from a very limited range of hardware options… There is only one modem. One wireless router… to pick from.
Another nonsense stuff that is sort of new… airtel no longer offers Pro-Rata billing. You can only switch to a new package on your next billing cycle. So, if you do not apply on time, it means you are stuck with your current package for the rest of the billing period.
We already know how airtel messed up their broadband services by switching to a fair usage policy on all unlimited plans. Their recent plans are much better than what they have been offering for years now. But still, this is no excuse…
Outsourcing hardware and installation to Beetel is a sad move. I also heard that only one transfer per year is free. If you apply for multiple transfers in a year, you have to pay for them.
Another thing… They love to market 4 mbps plans… But they forget to mention that 4 mbps speeds is only available in very limited areas. I applied for 4 mbps and was told that it was available in my sector. After a couple of minutes, another call came in informing me that it’s not. So, I had to switch to a 2 mbps plan. Airtel could not provide me with any timeline on when 4 mbps could be offered to me.
Just remembered another thing. Airtel for some weird reasons require original copies of (telephone) bills or (bank/credit card) statements for verification purposes. Photocopies? Not allowed. Printouts? Not allowed. This is rather funny considering they have worked hard to push e-bills over paper bills in the name of saving trees. This is a pretty annoying change in policy. I have been trying hard to switch to online statements for a lot of services. And this makes it pretty tough for me to subscribe to a new Airtel connection.
Based on what I have read on the India Broadband Forum, it is pretty clear that airtel is throttling torrents on their network.
A lot of people have complained about it. I have personally noticed it on my own computer.
There are several problems with this. First of all, this goes against the principles of network neutrality. Airtel needs to stop tinkering around with web services. We have seen them offering higher speeds specifically on YouTube for the IPL broadcast. Airtel Movies is another service that sort of goes against network neutrality philosophy.
The other problem is logic. Airtel has no truly unlimited plans above 256kbps. All of their so called unlimited plans have a fair usage policy. So basically, users have a set limit ranging from 4GB per month to 150GB per month. After that their speeds are dropped down to 256kbps. This alone makes it a sheer stupidity on their part to throttle torrent based downloads.
The company officially would not comment on it of course. The only thing we get out of them is that they do not do anything and their speed claims are restricted to their own servers. We hope that sanity would prevail in the end and the company would allow a throttle free internet experience to their customers in the future.
Business Standard did an article on the fair usage policy problem that is spreading like a plague in the country.
airtel Broadband remains one of the biggest supports of this policy. A company representative has been quoted as saying:
Our data shows that over 80 per cent of our customers use less than 5 GB every month. What it means is that such limits are more than enough for the large majority of consumers. An average customer on our network uses eight-10 GBs in an unlimited plan, the limit is in form of speed reduction and not data transfer, which incidentally has no cap.
There are a couple of issues here…
airtel seems to be unable to handle the load caused by less than 20% of their customers. If i remember correctly, this figure used to be less than 5%. Not sure when they decided to bump it to less than 20%.
In any case, the company does not respond to one simple question. Do you want to cater to the less than 20% of the user base who are affected by fair usage policy?
If yes, what are they planning to offer them besides the 256kbps speeds which they already have on offer?
I am yet to get a solid response to my proposal based on the Hayai Theory. Let the user prepay for bandwidth. Let him decide how much he wants to use. Let him buy bandwidth in bulk at reasonable prices.
We have good reasons to believe that bandwidth costing for a company like airtel does not come to more than 2-3 rupees per GB. Even if we add in other expenses… There is no reason why they cannot sell it in bulk for around 10 bucks per GB.
Airtel has an interesting tweet on their official account. It goes like this:
Bharti Airtel to unleash Broadband Revolution in India – To launch 3G in 2010. for more info: http://bit.ly/dv7R2v
The company claims that the launch of 3G on their network would bring about a broadband revolution in the country.
The same company has utterly failed to do anything with their wired broadband services. 256Kbps is what they believe broadband is.
3G is not going to change anything. Prices are going to be high. Unlimited plans are likely to be out of reach for most of us. And they are likely to feature the famous Airtel Fair Usage Policy.
This PR bullshit is getting crazy. Airtel would do good by fixing the mess they have created on their ‘actual’ broadband services. Get rid of FUP. Launch some exciting pure unlimited plans at competitive prices. Get some shit done. Please.
I specifically talk about this particular piece because I was one of the guys contacted to give the consumer’s point of view.
We did the best we could and it turned out pretty well. The article does not really go into much detail but that was too much to ask.
It does sort of does justice to our point of view. Nothing is expected to change in the end. Telecom giants have too much influence on the relevant people and they are not going to change their position on this matter at all.
A new player would have to arrive in the market to change the entire scene and mindset. Reliance did that to mobile services market… Hayai ‘could’ do it to the broadband sector.
But the fight continues! :)
Holy cow. It is a pretty huge article in the newspaper itself!
Hah. Just realized that they did not do take on Airtel as I was expected. They took on Tata Broadband instead… Editing title of the post.