oh crap....was that a snake!!???

Unbundled? Try Unravelled.....

, posted: 30-Nov-2007 07:17

At ground level - broadband/ mobile in India

What are the big issues here at the moment? Funny enough - more
broadband! There are two major state providers who own the core network
and local loop. Other providers are able to supply by purchasing network on a wholesale
arrangement - but the core infrastructure is owned by the state. At
present you get get connections up to 2meg (and one of the private
providers the other day annouce plans for 8meg connections) but most
DSL connections are limited to about 256-512k.

In terms of mobile - 2G and 2.5G only. There are two main CDMA providers (1Xrtt), and two main GSM providers (GPRS, and believe it or not - EDGE). At present the providers and the government are negotiating over spectrum for the supply of 3G services (what I wouldn't give for EVDO, let alone REV A or HSPDA). The mobile situation here is complicated by the fact that there isn't enough spectrum even for the suppply of standard 2G voice services - let alone adding more subscribers (which are currently being added at the rate of 8 million people per month). Added to that - the frequency range providers would like to use for 3G - is currently owned by the Army!

In addition to DSL and mobile - there are some wireless services - and also cable. The cable service is kind of interesting as the company that provides it has an arrangement with cable TV providers to pipe internet connectivty to them via wireless (?) before sending it down the coax to consumers. Would be a great service if it weren't for the unreliability of the cable network.

So what's the network like?

If I could figure out how to paste a picture in this blog (providing I'm allowed to), and firefox played nicely I would show you a picture of the birds nest currently outside our house impersonating a telephone pole. Imagine if you will your worst fishing nightmare with multiple lines hopelessly tangled - that's the phone lines. There is also a grey box stuck to the side of the post with a broken lid showing lots of twisted pairs! Goodness knows where they go. There's another box with a padlock on it - and something inside with a red flashing light - don't even want to know what that is. Yep - the phone service is fairly....whats the word I'm looking for......feral? Just his morning there was an article in the paper about a businessman arrested for operating an illegal telephone exchange. How on earth do you mange to setup and operate an illegal telephone exchange!

Getting services

When we ordered our phone and broadband - the installation process was an eye opener to say the least. In NZ - a van turns up, maybe 2! Guys with hardhats and bright vests get out - they might setup traffic cones - maybe a sign down the road saying "linesmen" - turn on the flashing organe light. All very comforting.

Ok......now imagine a guy (in sandles) on a bicycle with a big roll of copper wire wrapped around his shoulder, a pair of combination wire snips and pliers, and a handheld phone (the kind the techs had in NZ when Post and Telecom were one company). Your phone installer has arrived! Despite the minimalist approach - the phone was up and running in five minutes (although they did think there a fault because there was no dial tone - until I switched the phone from pulse to tone)!? The broadband proved a bit trickyer.

So its your basic PPPoE running on ADSL2 (thats the protocol they use - but the line quality,etc means you haven't a hope of getting anywhere near that). The setup is almost indentical to getting xtra broadband in NZ (I think the VC indentifiers are the only difference) - which is just as well as you get no instructions as to how to set it up. You get your password and ID - then hunt around in the setup menu of the router to input the information - reboot, wait a full 2 minutes and its running. So far its been pretty reliable. There are occassions when the providers DNS seems to die (you can get an IP address, download the providers homepage - but the rest of the internet is invisible) - but otherwise ok. The next challenge is to try and get a fast line - maybe 2meg!

Fault finding - I thank my lucky stars that I worked in the industry in NZ and have a reasonable understanding of DSL setup, network to the exchange, that sort of thing. One thing is very clear here - the people on the front desk and help desk have very little training in what they deal with - so if you can tell them what to do (please reset my password, etc) - that's more likely to get the problem solved.


Buying a basic phone is cheap - 30 bucks. Prepay is also very cheap - a years worth of calling for 15 bucks say. National tolls - ok. International tolls - ouch. Smart phones, PDAs - are expensive. The only people who buy them earn way more money then you and I back in NZ - so why discount? One of the most noticeable differences? If you buy a phone it may only work in your particular city. Want to roam nationally - you have to apply for it. Want voicemail - that's separate. Want to roam internationally and your on a post pay - you need to apply and pay a deposit! For almost all the operators bar one - all the service that you might expect to be included in a phone service - are extra.

Service quality? Well....its cheap. Cross talk, frequent disconnections, unexplained outages - I think we've had more disruption here in 6 month than we did in 6 years in NZ. Man - NZ network is rock solid! Is it a big problem - not really - you just phone again later - and it is cheap.

What about changing service providers I hear you say. Think about it. If your signing up 2-3 million people a month why would you need to encourage anyone else to swap providers? So no - there are no specials, no discounts, no incentives. Basically - if you don't have a lot of money then you buy a cheap phone on prepay. If you buy anything else it means you have money so why would you need a discount?

So there we are. Sometimes frustrating - but never dull. This place just blows you away. BTW - apologies in advance should you post something in geekzone about the poor state of broadband in NZ, falling behind in the OECD rankings, making comparisons to oh......a developing country - all because your broadband is only running at 6 meg instead of 10 - or 10 meg instead of 20. In short - I'd like to bite your arse since you need to snap out of it!

Comment by maverick, on 30-Nov-2007 08:09

Thanks for the insight Rawiri,

Interesting to see a perspective like this, I did some work in Cambodia with the Army and UN and can so relate to birdsnest of lines and things, we may not be perfect here in NZ but heck we are better off than a lot of people.

Author's note by KiwiOverseas66, on 30-Nov-2007 20:25

oh bloody hell.....village NZ strikes again. I was in Cambodia as well - during UNTAC (but not with the army). Which province were you in? Were you with the engineers up in Siem Reap? Remember the exploding transformer boxes! Not a suprise really if you choose to use old ammo boxes as covers for high voltage equipment!

Comment by maverick, on 3-Dec-2007 09:09

LOL , now this is a Small World, I was with UNTAC as well RNZSIGS (40 Kiwis and 400 Aussies) I myself was based out of Phom Phen, I was responsible for the UN PABX systems install and commissioning MD110 through DAMA PAMA for the whole Country, travelled to the most of the provinces though doing the commissioning and acceptance testing for th MD110,

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Rawiri Johnston
New Delhi

Resident in India for the next few years. Left the corporate IT/ Telco job behind for a change of scene, spend more time with the family, eat lots of spicy food, drink more beer! Currently living in New Delhi - a lovely cosmopolitan city filled with great people. The politics here are wild! So is the IT (8 million cell phone connections a month - wooohoooo)!

I'm maori, married, three lovely kids, avid rugby fan (go the blacks), and play guitar.