Rant on Digital India

This is a long rant on my inability to get a half-decent Internet connection. Read at peril and with caution. Lots of cuss words.

So, ladies and gents, as you may know, I am a computer-science graduate. I run an events agency and a digital marketing business. All my life's content is on a cloud storage. I use a iPhone as comfortably as a fashion model handles those stilettos on a ramp. I live at a pretty affluent neighbourhood in Mumbai in an even more affluent apartment complex (rented, shared and "semi-furnished"). I use Vodafone as a mobile-service provider, which is probably amongst the top 3 telcos in the world and is generally priced at a premium. My sis worked for Vodafone for 5 years. My ex-roommate continues to head one of the most important divisions there. A really good friend from MDI heads a product division there. So, I am pretty connected at Vodafone. I get access to a level of service that most others dont. And yet! I will come back to this.

The rant!
The place where I live, that locality is "owned" by this politician that controls everything happening around here. Might sound like bullshit in this day and age but he does. From the maids to shops around the building to servicemen to nariyal paani wala to brokers to the fucking Internet Service Provider, all are controlled by him. And since he controls the shit, he can actually choose who delivers what service to the complex. Including the ISP.

But I did not know this when I moved here. In fact when I moved, I had to choose between his ISP and MTNL (the state-owned-operated telco). The commonsensical man in me told me that MTNL is of no use and I must get the alternative. And I promptly did that. Little did I know that his ISP is probably the most fucked up I've ever experienced. Bad speed, unreliable service, unresponsive support staff that doesn't know an IP address from a MAC address (wait, do I know? I dont. But am I a service provider?).

So after a month or so, I moved to MTNL, which is another story in itself. I will not digress. When MTNL started giving me trouble, I started looking for alternatives. And this is when I realised his clout. Apparently if you want to operate in the complex as an ISP, you have to use said politicians' ISP as support network and of course they can hold you ransom. And no, I am not making this up. They did that to me. I was not allowed to get a new connection (from a different company) because I refused to pay for shoddy service.

Oh, the most established ones, the Airtels of the world do not provide internet because they dont have enough subscribers. Why? Because everyone else in the complex is using either the politicians' broadband or MTNL and no one seems to be bothered about it.

This is where I could have relied on Vodafone. I am happy paying for a service that I use. And I am super happy paying for Internet, well its the lifeline. But Vodafone is another story. I do not get coverage at my place. Apparently the floor I live at is very high for them to ensure connectivity. No, they do not know that these days planes that fly at 33000 feet or something have fast mobile connections and Internet. They just cant ensure connectivity on the 24th floor. So when am home, I am living in a cage - no Internet (because of what I said above), no mobile (because Vodafone cant put a booster for just one house, even though my ARPU is like 5000 bucks and on top my sis knows EXACTLY the guy who can make it happen).

And when I am out, couple of days ago, Vodafone decided that I have exhausted all mobile data (even though their official app shows that I have data left) and I am downgraded to 2G. And no, I cant buy more packs as the packs are already active on my connection. So, all in all, I am pretty handicapped right now. My work is suffering - no I am not giving bahanas - I am just lamenting.

As a result, here I am. On a day when we are celebrating our constitution. Forced to workout from a business that is American and yet has found a way to operate in India. Irony much?

Anyhow. So, while we usher in the cashless economy and digital India (which I totally support), I remain in the dark ages. And I realise that I will continue to do so till the time I become someone who can influence things around him. For starters, grow the balls to tell the politician to fix things. I cant even do that. I choose to remain a faceless blog on the Internet and do a fucking candle-light march of the blogosphere.

And if you are living in an illusion, no, we are not yet free. We are not yet republic. We are and we shall remain in the dark ages till we sort us the people who cede the power and control and respect to a handful few.

Because of all this, my work suffer -- I refuse to budge down and get a connection from the said person (and Vodafone can't help). I refuse to give him my business. I know that my 1500 bucks a month is not significant to the billionaire politician (who apparently owns 2 benami flats in the said complex). I in my head is making a change. I dont know if this change will impact anyone in the long run. The point is, I am without an Internet connection. And there is no solution. Even if I throw money at it. So yeah. Damn!!

Over n out.

Posted from a Starbucks outlet - because they have a ISP that actually works. And no, its not owned by a politician. And no, the ISP is not Vodafone India.

Filed under: Urban Poor, First World Problems, Internet, Vodafone, ISP, Rant

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