theindialog

December 16, 2009

Reliance Netconnect (Chennai)

Filed under: Evdo.coverage,Tamil Nadu,Technology — loggers @ 1:25 pm

100% coverage on the Nungambakkam High Road.

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December 14, 2009

Reliance Netconnect (Pondicherry)

Filed under: Evdo.coverage,Pondicherry,Technology — loggers @ 3:06 pm

98% coverage at the Pondicherry bus station.

December 11, 2009

Connectivity

Filed under: Evdo.coverage,Lessons,Technology — loggers @ 8:36 pm

All along this trip, technology has played an integral role in keeping us connected and more importantly, in updating the blog regularly. As mentioned earlier, the speed test comparison could not be carried because of dreadful customer service in order to get Mihir’s Photon working. Another incident that could be useful in making choices easier occurred with regards to cell-phone and tower connectivity, while in Tamil Nadu. To be clear, while roaming, connectivity can either be obtained through the home network or through agreements with other networks. E.g. Aircel can work either through its own network, or use the towers that have been setup by IDEA, assuming an agreement is in place to share their tower.

Vodafone consistently received EDGE/GPRS connectivity[1] throughout the state, through one of the two methods described above. Even at some of the remotest points in Rameswaram, close to land’s end and Sri Lanka’s border, connectivity was available. On the other hand, Loop Mobile’s data service has been dismal, with no service available anywhere. In addition to the absence of their own towers, the apparent agreements they have with Vodafone and Aircel count for nothing. After repeated complaints to the Loop technical team, there was still no rectification.

These two events seek to highlight the customer service and infrastructure deficiencies of TATA Photon and Loop Mobile respectively. Especially in the latter’s market, with MNP (Multiple Number Portability) coming early next year, serious improvements will need to be made to prevent an outflow of dissatisfied customers to other providers.


[1] Necessary for data transfers, i.e. email, internet, BlackBerry Messenger etc.

Reliance Netconnect (Rameswaram)

Filed under: Evdo.coverage,Tamil Nadu,Technology — loggers @ 7:25 pm

99% coverage at the railway station.

December 9, 2009

Reliance Netconnect vs. Tata Photon

Filed under: Evdo.coverage,Technology — loggers @ 11:50 am

Dear Readers,

The speed and coverage tests between 2 wireless internet providers have been a highlight of this blog. Unfortunately, no more contests will be held. One of the original loggers, Alok (also the owner of the Photon stick), has not been able to join us for leg 3. Mihir tried to get a Photon but faced several issues with regards to activation, which are still to be resolved. The customer service guys at Tata have been extremely unresponsive. While you will continue to see Reliance Netconnect’s performance data, there will be no competition.

Apologies,

Loggers

Thus far, Reliance has emerged as a better service provider between the 2 nominees.

December 7, 2009

Technology In Education

Filed under: Education,Tamil Nadu,Technology — loggers @ 10:50 pm

Building a strong knowledge economy is a very important aspect of a developing nation. Hence, visiting educational institutions has been an important and frequent agenda of our travels. We have been attempting to understand some characteristics of the education (predominantly school) system across various states and identify shortfalls/possible lessons, if any. From Assam to Mizoram to UP, we have interacted with educators at institutions from a variety of backgrounds. The southern states have historically led the way in reducing illiteracy and providing quality schooling, and we embarked to try and find out why.

The use of technology in education is part of an explicit effort by the government to encourage schools to introduce such teaching methods. Educomp, one of the leading educational service providers in the country, identified this potential early and has experienced exponential growth as a result of schools increasing adopting these technologies. Adwaith Secondary School in Coimbatore is one such school that has taken this step, and reaped the rewards. Even though the equipment and maintenance costs are relatively expensive, the principal unequivocally pushed for its use in some of her classrooms. This was mainly due to the agreement of the management (trustees) of the school, who were willing to provide additional funding for this purpose. This was done without increasing student fees significantly since the students were mostly from lower to middle income families.

The setup itself consists of a central server that needs to be housed within the school premises, which is then connected to individual operating systems in each of the equipped classrooms. Each classroom has its own CPU, mouse, keyboard and LCD TV, with the help of which teachers can conduct lessons. The digitization of content and conversion into presentation material is done by Educomp, by sending them the relevant course material prior to the start of the academic year.

Equipment in the classroom

Initiatives such as these can go a long way in improving the quality of education at our schools. It is important to note here that this should be utilized as a compliment to teachers and not a substitute where students can simply learn from the material presented visually. To this end, teachers should also be adequately trained in these new technologies in order to make the delivery even more efficient.

November 15, 2009

Reliance Netconnect in Vidarbha

Filed under: Evdo.coverage,Maharashtra,Technology — loggers @ 8:48 pm

Netconnect in Nagpur:

NS_Nagpur

Netconnect worked well in Chandrapur and Amravati as well. Speeds were ~256kbps (download) in both those cities. Unfortunately, we are not carrying the Photon stick on this leg. Comparisons will be back on Leg 3(b) when we cover the southern states.

October 22, 2009

Reliance Netconnect vs. Tata Photon (Lucknow)

Filed under: Evdo.coverage,Technology,Uttar Pradesh — loggers @ 12:05 am

Location: Meerabai Marg

Netconnect takes Lucknow

Netconnect:

NS_Lucknow

Photon:

lucknow

October 18, 2009

Reliance Netconnect vs. Tata Photon (Varanasi)

Filed under: Evdo.coverage,Technology,Uttar Pradesh — loggers @ 11:25 pm

Netconnect takes Varanasi.

Location: Benaras Club

Netconnect:

NS_Benaras

Photon: Not working

Reliance Netconnect vs. Tata Photon (Patna)

Filed under: Bihar,Evdo.coverage,Technology — loggers @ 11:17 pm

Photon wins Patna.

Location: Nirvana Cottage, White House complex

Netconnect:

NS_Patna

Photon:

patna

October 13, 2009

Reliance Netconnect vs. Tata Photon (Rajgir)

Filed under: Bihar,Evdo.coverage,Technology — loggers @ 9:50 pm

Netconnect takes Rajgir.

Location: Circuit House

Netconnect:

NS_Rajgir

Photon: Not working

October 10, 2009

Railways, Technology and Ethics

Filed under: Lessons,Technology,Transport — loggers @ 8:38 pm

Disclaimer: None of the brands mentioned have actually paid us. This is free advertising for them.

Railway ticket booking has become a lot easier these days, thanks to the IRCTC and websites such as Yatra. As a result we’ve relied on the railways to travel the eastern part of the country. Rail travel is also safer relative to roadways as local goons and Maoists/Naxalites often target vehicles on highways, especially in northern Orissa, Jharkhand and Bihar. This strategy has allowed us to see a number of railway stations which we’ve found to be clean and well-equipped. However, major stations, such as Howrah, still suffer from heavy congestion (one of us remarked, “This resembles a refugee camp”) and security at all stations remains a major concern as they are extremely porous.

We took the Purshottam Express from Bhubaneswar to Jamshedpur. The train, which was supposed to leave Bhubaneswar at 11.30pm was delayed by an hour. Due to arrive at 6.30am, we only reached at 8am. The attendant, who had assured us that he would wake us up in time for Tatanagar station, seemed content in his sleep as we exited the train. Utterly disoriented, we searched for the exit. Meters before the exit, we were stopped by a drowsy railway official who wanted to see tickets of the journey we had just performed. We realized that after the 2am ticket check and due to the hasty exit in the morning, we had forgotten our tickets in the train.

When on the wrong side of the law, defense via reason is an ideal form of offense. We proceeded to explain to the uninterested official the circumstances under which we had exited the train. We also asked for his permission to show him the soft copy of our ticket on the mobile phone or the netbook but he refused citing the INR 300/person fine as the only acceptable settlement mechanism.

As is common in India, onlookers circumscribed us for their dose of early morning entertainment. Few of the gentlemen tried to negotiate on our behalf. We even suggested to the platform TC (Ticket Collector) that 2 of us would bond with him while the third would run to a nearby cyber café and print the ticket. He rejected this offer too and proposed that we pay INR 300 at least. For that sum, he would let us go. This was the loophole in his case. We demanded that we be taken to the station manager’s cabin for what would be a hearing of sorts.

Upon arrival at the cabin, we presented our case to the manager who deployed a third, apparently independent officer to examine our e-tickets. The netbook was pulled out. The Netconnect was plugged in. Now, only internet connectivity could save us from furthering the confrontation. Towers were on our side – the device worked. The officer looked at the ticket and recommended that we be set free.

Lesson: Requesting a transfer of proceedings to the station manager was a risk. Groupism (which would work against us) of railway officials was a strong possibility. Paying INR 300 and exiting the station was the easy option but we knew that our case was flawless. We decided to stick to the facts and emerged victorious on a high moral ground.

Many of our laws are archaic, and render such settlement impossible. Not too long ago, we succumbed to a similar temptation. An upright minority is the only hope for a nation where corruption is a social norm. Pontificating high horses are more comfortable than rocky rail rides.

October 9, 2009

Reliance Netconnect vs. Tata Photon (Jamshedpur)

Filed under: Evdo.coverage,Jharkhand,Technology — loggers @ 6:58 pm

Reliance wins Tatanagar.

Location: Hotel Nalanda, Jamshedpur.

Reliance Netconnect:

NS_Jamshedpur

Photon: No coverage

October 8, 2009

Reliance Netconnect vs. Tata Photon (Bhubaneswar)

Filed under: Evdo.coverage,Orissa,Technology — loggers @ 6:43 pm

Netconnect takes Bhubaneswar.

Netconnect:

NS_Bhubaneswar

Photon: No coverage

October 7, 2009

Reliance Netconnect vs. Tata Photon (Puri)

Filed under: Evdo.coverage,Orissa,Technology — loggers @ 10:15 pm

Netconnect wins Puri.

Netconnect:

NS_Puri

Photon: No coverage

October 3, 2009

Reliance Netconnect vs. Tata Photon (Calcutta)

Filed under: Evdo.coverage,Technology,West Bengal — loggers @ 12:46 am

Photon takes Calcutta.

Reliance Netconnect:

NS_Calcutta

Tata Photon:

kolkata

October 1, 2009

Reliance Netconnect vs. Tata Photon (Aizawl)

Filed under: Evdo.coverage,Mizoram,Technology — loggers @ 10:52 pm

Photon wins Aizawl

Reliance Netconnect:

No coverage

Tata Photon:

Aizawl, Mizoram

September 29, 2009

Reliance Netconnect vs. Tata Photon (Guwahati)

Filed under: Assam,Evdo.coverage,Technology — loggers @ 10:33 pm

Tata Photon wins the Guwahati round.
(Photon also had strong connectivity in Tezpur while Netconnect did not work…just wasn’t able to take the speedtest)

Reliance Netconnect:

No coverage

Tata Photon:

guwahati speed test

September 8, 2009

Paddy Cultivation Revisited: Drought-proofing

Filed under: Economics,Punjab,Technology — loggers @ 5:03 pm

After touring Punjab, we had written (1,2) about the negative externalities associated with paddy cultivation. Normally, 3,000 — 5,000 litres of water are needed to produce a kilogramme of rice. We inferred that this level of water usage is unsustainable (this is reflected by a depleting water table). In a column in the Business Standard, Surinder Sud covers a potential solution to the problem in the form of  “aerobic rice cultivation”.

This is exactly the kind of technological innovation that is needed to curb the painful wastage of water associated with growing rice in India. According to Sud, the water saved using this technique can equal a fourth of all the water used in Asia. It seems that China had the method figured out in 2002 and that Pakistan was contemplating a similar practice in 2005.

September 4, 2009

Conversation with Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat

Filed under: Conversation,Economics,Gujarat,Politics,Technology,Transport — loggers @ 8:11 pm

We contacted Narendra Modi’s office on Monday, introducing ourselves as recent graduates from US colleges on an all-India tour. We received a meeting confirmation 2 days later. It was clear that Modi enjoys meeting young people, and the efficiency of his office was representative of the state of Gujarat as a whole.

What Sets Gujarat Apart?

The meeting began with Modi explaining what sets Gujarat apart from the rest of India. Firstly, his policy-driven approach to governance allows businesses to run with minimal interference, so long as they operate within the clearly prescribed rules and regulations set forth by the state government. Secondly, maintaining 24-hour power supply to every household and business across the state has always been a top priority (Gujarat was the only state where we didn’t experience a single power cut). He is also currently working on spreading broadband connectivity across the rural villages of the state. Thirdly, Gujarat’s implementation of the National Highway Authority of India’s (NHAI) schemes has been more effective than other states. These are some of the drivers behind Gujarat’s unrivaled intra-state road connectivity and infrastructure.

The DMIC and GIFT

The Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) is a large-scale national project which will likely shape the country’s economic future as it is implemented. Modi believes that Gujarat will be a key beneficiary of the project. He also holds a positive outlook on its feasibility- so much so that he has commissioned the erection of 9 state highways (which are already built) in support of the corridor.

Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) is Modi’s baby. We were shown a premium quality coffee table book on the project as he explained its place in the future of Gujarat. His vision is to make a financial hub of international standards in India. Gujarat would be a natural birthplace for such a project as it houses the highest number of Chartered Accountants in the country and is a breeding ground for people who are interested in financial services. If all goes as planned, we envision GIFT turning into the financial hub of India, in spite of Mumbai being the official financial capital (like how Hong Kong is China’s financial hub, in spite of Shanghai being the official financial capital).

Graphic design of GIFT skyline

Graphic design of GIFT skyline

Constant Learning

When asked what the rest of India should learn from Gujarat, Modi instead chose to talk about what Gujarat learns from the rest of the country. He explained that if he notices anything working successfully in other states (be it in public works, the arts or education), he immediately sends a 10-person team there to understand the strategy. Modi also routinely dispatches all his MLA’s to different states to learn about those states’ best practices and adapt them to Gujarat’s growth model.

Wrapping-up…

Modi runs a tight ship, and this has allowed him to build a state with road connectivity, power supply and infrastructure that is superior to any of the states we have covered so far. It is a combination of the CM’s leadership and the enterprising nature of the Gujarati people that has made the state what it is today. With such large-scale economic and financial projects underway, we expect to see it develop into a major commercial hub of the country.

August 24, 2009

Reliance Netconnect vs. Tata Photon (Ahmedabad)

Filed under: Evdo.coverage,Gujarat,Technology — loggers @ 11:31 pm

Netconnect wins Ahmedabad.

Netconnect:

NS_Ahmedabad

Photon:

ahmedabad

August 23, 2009

Reliance Netconnect vs. Tata Photon (Udaipur)

Filed under: Evdo.coverage,Rajasthan,Technology — loggers @ 2:58 pm

Netconnect wins Udaipur.

Netconnect:

NS_Udaipur

Photon:

No coverage.

August 22, 2009

Reliance Netconnect vs. Tata Photon (NH112)

Filed under: Evdo.coverage,Rajasthan,Technology — loggers @ 3:53 pm

Netconnect has National Highway # 112 covered.

Netconnect:

NS_NH112

The connectivity is truly seamless. Depending on where you are on the highway, a notification box pops up at the bottom right corner of your screen telling you which tower has you covered:

Switching

Photon:

No coverage

August 21, 2009

Reliance Netconnect vs. Tata Photon (Beawar)

Filed under: Evdo.coverage,Rajasthan,Technology — loggers @ 1:00 am

Netconnect wins the Beawar round.

Netconnect:

NS_Beawar

Photon:

No coverage

August 18, 2009

Reliance Netconnect vs. Tata Photon (Jaipur)

Filed under: Evdo.coverage,Rajasthan,Technology — loggers @ 10:06 pm

Netconnect wins Jaipur

Netconnect:

NS_Jaipur

Photon:

jaipur

August 17, 2009

Reliance Netconnect vs. Tata Photon (Kota)

Filed under: Evdo.coverage,Rajasthan,Technology — loggers @ 11:05 pm

This round goes to Netconnect (Photon not working)

Netconnect:

NS_Kota

August 11, 2009

Reliance Netconnect vs. Tata Photon (New Delhi)

Filed under: Delhi,Evdo.coverage,Technology — loggers @ 2:25 am

New Delhi round goes to Photon

Netconnect:

 

 

 

NS_Delhi

 

 

 

Photon:

 

 

Signal Strength

August 9, 2009

Reliance Netconnect vs. Tata Photon (Amritsar)

Filed under: Evdo.coverage,Punjab,Technology — loggers @ 12:38 am

Amritsar round goes to Netconnect.

Photon: No coverage

Netconnect:

NS_Amritsar

August 7, 2009

Reliance Netconnect vs. Tata Photon (Ludhiana)

Filed under: Evdo.coverage,Punjab,Technology — loggers @ 6:56 pm

Ludhiana round goes to Netconnect.

Photon: No coverage

Netconnect:

NS_Ludhiana

August 6, 2009

Tech updates

Filed under: Technology — loggers @ 11:31 pm
  1. Join the Facebook group
  2. Track us on Twitter
  3. Scroll down for a Platial map which will show you where we are

Reliance Netconnect vs. Tata Photon (Chandigarh)

Filed under: Evdo.coverage,Haryana,Punjab,Technology — loggers @ 1:09 am

Chandigarh round goes to Netconnect.

Photon: No coverage

Netconnect:

NS_Chandigarh

July 29, 2009

Reliance Netconnect vs. TATA Photon (Pehelgam, Anantnag, Seer)

Filed under: Evdo.coverage,J&K,Technology — loggers @ 11:27 am

To our dismay, neither the Netconnect nor the Photon had connectivity in any of the three cities. It seems like Reliance NotConnect was just joined by Tata Photoff.

July 25, 2009

Reliance Netconnect vs. TATA Photon (Srinagar)

Filed under: Evdo.coverage,J&K,Technology — loggers @ 2:10 am

Round 1 goes to TATA Photon!

Reliance Netconnect: No network coverage (more like reliance NOTconnect)

TATA Photon:
srinagar

July 22, 2009

Netconnect vs. Photon

Filed under: Evdo.coverage,Technology — namanpugalia @ 8:41 pm

One of the many ‘national’ experiments we will conduct is a coverage and speed contest between wireless broadband providers.

Naman will use the Reliance Netconnect Broadband+ and Alok will test the Tata Photon+. We will use the speed test tool available at Dslreports to check for speed.  The single transfer speed-test probes for maximum line speed, both upload and download. Almost everyday you will see images like the one below.

This is the result of a speed test conducted from Naman’s residence in south Mumbai. The download speed (in green) is 357 Kbps and the upload speed (in red) is 120 Kbps.

For network strength, we will rely on the service provider’s estimate indicated by the number of bars.

NS_Mumbai

This is a first for India. Nobody has tested 2 national wireless internet service providers as comprehensively as this.

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