BSNL Broadband - Dataone

While I was raving about BSNL's dataone broadband all around the world, BSNL was busy in its own bureaucratic innovations!

I use dataone at home and I have Home Unlimited 900 plus plan. This means I get unlimited downloads and uploads and the bandwidth is 256Kbps. When I saw this news on dataone portal I was very excited and I happily blogged about that in my intranet blog also. But then Veetrag asked me to do a bandwidth test and post the image showing 2Mbps or so bandwidth. So I did a bandwidth test and saw this -

Eating the humble pie! A retest within a few minutes was some solace -

But I am confused! Though this is still not enough (afterall they said they will be giving 2Mbps). I checked up with the helpline, and its there at the dataone website also. BSNL is not increasing the bandwidth for Home Unlimited users so why am I getting > 256Kbps b/w. For me the higher the better, but where is 2Mbps? So now, I have asked them to migrate me to Home-1000 plan where there is an assured b/w of 384Kbps which can go up to 2Mbps. Only guys paying 3300/- per month get 2Mbps b/w. What does this mean? 2Mbps is still a faraway dream. Lets see what I get next month when they change my plan.

I am sure they think that these buggers are already eating up the bandwidth with huge downloads and if they get faster connection they are going to eat up the whole world. I used to believe the same for Airtel also, the bandwidth they offer in their unlimited plans used to be much less than what they offered in limited download/upload plans. Not sure about the current status there. Also, note that BSNL was offering no unlimited plans in the beginning, they worked it out only later. It seems unlimited downloads and high bandwidth together don't make business sense for them.

I have this fundamental doubt - Why is there a download/upload limit in a broadband plan when it is supposed to be always on facility. On one hand they shout about "Video on Demand" and "Online Gaming" facilities and on the other hand they charge Rs 0.90 per MB if your download/upload crosses 1 GB in a month. 256Kbps is a pre-historic bandwidth when I compare with what others get in broadband advanced countries (check those for South Korea, US). While they can claim the broadband tarrif in India is going to be the lowest in the world, I can easily show it can be highest because of the way it has been formulated. Given an opportunity, I will download at least 500MB to 1GB per day @ 256Kbps which makes it 15-30GB in a month. In the home 3300 plan, my bill would be Rs 3300 to Rs 10000/- per month. To give you an example, I recently upgraded the Ubuntu on my home pc and fedora core 6 on my laptop and both the updates were just a little less than 1 GB each. 2 GB of my limit gone in 2 days straight. If I want to download Solaris 10 to try it out, it will be another 3-4 GB. And lets not discuss about the videos of my son which I want to share with parents in Varanasi because the bandwidth situation is Varanasi is even worse. I don't want to restrict myself with such download/upload limits.

If they want to proliferate the usage of broadband internet in India, they have to come out of these restricted pricing methods. Its not any social service I am asking them to do, we are 1 billion people in India and lets divide it by 10 to get 100 million households. Dividing it by 10 again gives 10 million households which may want to get internet at home and if they pay Rs. 250-500 per month it comes out to be Rs 30-60 Billion per year business opportunity. How's that?

Looking at statistics, I find that the target for 2007 is 9 million broadband subscribers and 20 million till 2010. One would also say broadband proliferation is dependent on PC penetration but still internet access is one of most important reasons why one would buy a PC. If my parents can seamlessly video chat with my son while sitting at the comforts of our homes they are going to tell 20 more people about the experience. OTOH, a father is going scold his son/daughter big time if the poor guy downloads 5 GB of data in a particular month because instead of Rs 250/- the bill will be Rs. 4000/- for that month. It may look like loss of revenue to BSNL if they are looking at just one connection at a time, but if it scares some 1000 dads like that, it is an opportunity lost worth 2.5 Lacs per month for n number of years.

Finally, I am still hopeful that it will not be like this for long, we will have even better days in future like what we have seen with Mobiles and Telephones in India. Sooner the better!


PS - As you would have noticed at the top of this page, I do a lot of random mumblings! :-)


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