by July 7, 2000 0 comments

The capital of India’s most literate state, and of God’s
own country. But the Internet revolution seems to have passed the southern tip
of the country by. No dotcom frenzy–there was only one dotcom hoarding
visible, and that too just outside the airport, no Internet madness, but if you
really listen, you can see the dotcom lingo slowly creeping into everyday
conversation. Unlike in the other cities, there are no local ISPs here. Only
three national ISPs–VSNL, Satyam, and Dishnet operate here. And at a time when
ISPs are outdoing each other in announcing and advertising newer and cheaper
packages, the only advertisement we saw in the local newspapers was on one day
for Dishnet’s five-year package for women.

So, why did we choose to check out Trivandrum, or
Tiruvananthapuram as its current name goes? We needed two cities to check out,
outside of the top seven. Being the capital of the most literate state in the
country helped. Thus, it became the ninth city to be part of this shootout, with
Chandigarh being the eighth.

We started our tests on a Sunday night and carried through
till Tuesday afternoon. The fact that there were only three ISPs enabled us to
carry out more rounds of tests. We also did away with the download tests, and
instead checked only for connectivity and browsing.

Purchase

Where do you buy an account? Satyam mentioned three sales
points in the city. That seemed a bit too low, particularly because all of them
were located on one side of the city. Dishnet seemed to have a wider choice, and
the helpdesk referred us to an outlet nearest to where we were located. Dishnet
also has one Internet hub in the city, where women can register for their new
five-year package. VSNL has a customer service center in the city from where you
can buy the account. Advantage Dishnet.

Installation charges

If you ask the Dishnet dealer to come and install the account
at your place, they’ll charge you an installation fee of Rs 150. Alternately,
you could go to their shop and get the registration done free of charge. If you
opt for this, remember to change the password immediately. The same applies to
Satyam as well–Rs 150 installation charges if you opt for their personnel to
come and install at your place. That’s a bit steep, if you were to ask us, and
there’s no reason why you should pay that amount when you can install it
yourself.

Helpdesk

Moving on to the helpdesk, Satyam and Dishnet have good
helpdesks that were operational both during and outside regular office hours.
Once we got one of the ETH numbers busy, but the second number was picked up
instantly. VSNL was a different story altogether. Although the helpdesk number
kept on ringing, most of the time, no one seemed to pick up the telephone. We
were able to get through only once, on Tuesday morning, during our final
attempt. Disadvantage VSNL.

Connectivity

We did a total of nine rounds of connectivity tests over
three days, both during the day and the night. In each round, each ISP was tried
five times in succession before moving on to the next.

In every one of those tests barring one, Satyam connected at
the first attempt. In the one attempt where Satyam failed, it said “wrong
password” a couple of times, but finally connected.

Dishnet was able to connect at first try only in two of those
nine rounds. Another two times, we were able to connect on the second and third
tries respectively. Once we were disconnected from the server during login, and
the remaining four times, what we got for our toils was the busy signal.

VSNL gave us the busy signal five times out of nine, and an
authentication failure after entering the password once. Incidentally, we were
using an account registered in Delhi. Of the remaining three rounds when we were
actually able to connect, we got a bad connect once, with no data transfer
taking place. Incidentally, with an older 14.4 kbps modem, VSNL was the only ISP
to sometimes connect at 9,600 bps also. The others always connected at 14,400
bps. Massive advantage Satyam.

Conclusion

The choice of ISP for Trivandrum seems obvious enough. Both
Dishnet and VSNL need to upgrade their services in this city, before they can
catch up with our choice–Satyam.

Krishna kumar@Trivandrum

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