Airtel Broadband. 4mbps connection. This is what I am getting.
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.
I noticed this tweet in my Twitter feed. The author is related to a glamor magazine…
Arrgghhh tired of tweetiyas who have an opinion on every bloody thing on earth
— Neena Haridas (@neenaharidas) January 29, 2011
And this is what Twitter said in a recent blog post:
Our goal is to instantly connect people everywhere to what is most meaningful to them. For this to happen, freedom of expression is essential. Some Tweets may facilitate positive change in a repressed country, some make us laugh, some make us think, some downright anger a vast majority of users. We don’t always agree with the things people choose to tweet, but we keep the information flowing irrespective of any view we may have about the content.
I rest my case.
PS. It has been long believed that the people involved in media industry have never liked common people having a say. Radio, Newspapers and Television become a one way medium long time ago. You can only consume data. Internet (and thus Twitter) has changed it all for our generation. We get the power to express ourselves. A small blog can take on a big giant. People have the power finally. Though network neutrality is being seen as the latest attack on the freedom we have to communicate on the web.
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.
So, TRAI is apparently holding an open house discussion on a consultation paper on the National Broadband Plan next month.
The meeting is scheduled for September 6 and it’s taking place in Hyderabad.
The sad thing? They are not inviting the regular internet user in the country. The only people invited are: “Interested Stakeholders/industry representatives”.
How sad does that make me? Very.
I guess, we would continue to remain a third world country when it comes to internet connectivity as well.