I have been searching for a reliable wireless internet connection for some time , which allows some amount of flexibility while using it. My requirements are simple , it should be a prepaid USB connection and should work in Mumbai and Goa. Since I do not view videos or download movies, the connection should have the speed of a dialup connection at the minimum.
I have evaluated the various internet connections available and listed their features and problems:
- Airtel USB Modem : Costs Rs 2999, can be purchased through Indiatimes, tariff starts from 20 paise / 50 KB download (or Rs 4 / MB download) , Rs 349 for 500 MB free data usage, 1 month validity. However, there is no information on how you are going to charge /load the amount for the prepaid usage. Seller B.T. Agencies has no feedback on Indiatimes
- Idea Netsetter : Costs Rs 2490 , Minimum prepaid amount is Rs 150, Access charges are Rs 1.7 / MB ( from http://www.ideacellular.com/IDEA.portal?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=IDEA_Page_Advertisements&displayParam=NetSetterPostpaid/NetSetterUSBModem_DELHI.html) . However some users have found the speed of an Idea connection slow.
- Vlink USB modem : Starter kit is the cheapest at Rs 99 ( but should be used with a mobile phone) , data charges 60 paise / minute. However, the terms for their Rs 349 and Rs 801 recharge at their website are confusing and this connection does not offer the coverage I want.
Reliance Netconnect seems to be a data card. I will also check forums and list the feedback from users , so that this review is comprehensive.
One of the biggest problems due to the proliferation of social networking is the spam invites you receive from perfect strangers to the various social networking websites. I am extremely careful online, but I still face this deluge of unwanted mails. The worst culprits are:
Facebook - "Check out my photos" - who wants to waste time looking at photos of perfect strangers ?
SiliconIndia - Invites from an assortment of girls with faces pancaked with make up. They use email ids which I do not publish anywhere online, I wonder how they get the email ids.
Jhoos - XXX wants to be your friend
When you are in college or have just started working, you have plenty of time and nothing much to do , you can afford to waste time on social networking and making "friends" with perfect strangers. As you grow older, you have seen enough of human nature to make an effort to make friends. You value your time and there is so much you want to do, why waste time socializing, especially with people with whom you have nothing in common.
Like a movie sequel , my Airtel prepaid balance is again being debited for Rs 3 for Thought for the day service to which I have never subscribed.
In June I was facing this Airtel prepaid problem and after repeated follow up, I managed to get a refund. Now in the space of 30 minutes my account has been debited for Rs 12 for a VAS service to which I never subscribed. It seems that millions of Airtel subscribers are facing this problem, if no immediate action is taken, it is better to go to the consumer court. They refunded the Rs 12 initially and I switched off the mobile.
But now my account has been debited for Rs 45 since then and I continue to receive the unsolicited SMS messages from 290603. It seems all Airtel subscribers are facing this problem. I have been trying to find out if there is a mobile phone virus which could be causing this problem, but it appears unlikely since I only have a basic mobile phone model. I have written to customer support and will publish the correspondence here soon.
Sending an email to the nodal officer is also not of much use. Now I am getting an error message
Subject: Mobile no **** - Incorrect billing
was not delivered to:
Error delivering to Nodalofficer Mumbai/SERVICE EXCELLENCE/Mum/Airtel/BTVL; Router: Database disk quota exceeded
One would have thought that India's largest mobile service provider could afford more hard disk space on their servers. Before buying foreign companies like MTN, why don't they put their VAS and billing systems in order? I have wasted so much time trying to get a refund and there are so many customers who are facing a similar problem.
Update : After repeated follow up and sending emails to firstname.lastname@example.org , I got 3 refunds of Rs 12, Rs 45 and Rs 3 each . I hope Airtel is able to fix this problem permanently.
Though India is a very diverse country, one of the things I have noticed is the complete lack of diversity in the employee profile of most software / internet companies in India. Everyone comes from similar socio-economic backgrounds, age and have similar interests. Even bloggers/ websites are very similar in nature and their opinions. One company even stated that they only hire people who stay close to their office!
While this may help when you have to work as a team (for software development), it could also be the reason why there is so little innovation. India has a culture of sycophancy, so whatever the boss says is always right. No one is always right, but if no one points out the flaws or drawbacks at an early stage, you are likely to lose more.
There is very little tolerance for people who do not "belong" to their group. "Outsiders" are often treated very unfairly. The media may give a lot of coverage to discrimination against Indian students in Australia, but how often do they cover the discrimination people face daily in India because of gender,age or family background.
The other casualty of lack of diversity is that since they do not know people from different backgrounds, is that you tend to stereotype. So if your girlfriend / wive / sister / mother is only interested in cooking / fashion/ housekeeping / partying, it is impossible for them to believe that any other lady can be technically competent.
Fed on a steady diet of actresses, models and other dumb celebrities extensively covered by the mainstream media in India today, most young people think that the way a person looks or talks is the best criteria for evaluating an individual. They have closed minds and do not realise how important trust is in the long term.
If you have an internet business which is exclusively online, there is always a lot of competition since the entry barriers are low. One of the things to track is the costs which other companies who could compete with you have, so I found this post (and comments ) on startup costs interesting.
In India the infrastructure is very poor , electricity goes off up to eight times in an hour where I stay (and it is worse in other places) and internet connections are often very slow, so the only way you can compete with other companies worldwide is by keeping your costs very low. Most start ups founders wish to maintain the lifestyle they lead when they had a job, but if you need a minimum of 10 lakh a year for your start up, your chances of success are much lower.
If you lead a frugal lifestyle and optimize your web hosting costs, you can easily manage an online business with even a few lakhs a year. The advantage of having a low cost set up, is that you can reinvest a much larger amount on productive business assets, experiment more with new ideas and also be very selective while choosing both your customers and vendors.