Archive for the ‘India Business’ Category

VOIP cheap or not cheap?

December 26, 2006

BW blog has a blog on how VOIP is not the cheapest option for calling international. However, I feel that going VOIP is not just about international calls, it provides more options for the same buck(s). I just got a mailer from AT&T saying that their prices for calling features would increase, Call waiting would cost $4 (3.43 currently) and caller ID would cost $8 from $6.17 ( I dont know how their cost increased, thats why I call it rip off).

With all necessary features, your traditional telco bill would run into $40, with VOIP phone for ~ $25 you’ll get all those features and unlimited domestic calling. Only thing is the long term reliability and financial health of the VOIP providers. I have talked about the advantages of using VOIP to India calls in my other posts here and here. Also, I feel that calling cards are not reliable and have their own issues.

Rumours on BSNL’s DSL rate plan changes

December 26, 2006

It is rumored that BSNL is going to upgrade/update their DSL offerings in new year, it is going to be a great news for Indian consumers. At the lowest level it is going to be Rs250 per month, that gives 2 mbps speed and 2 GB of upload/download. It is pretty good for a casual user.

Om malik of GigaOM feels that the restriction on data transfer is not very good for spread of internet, but I feel that at that price point it is really enticing for the consumers to get on to the bandwagon. For close relatives of Indians living abroad (NRIs), it will be a good idea to get the internet and use VOIP phone to get unlimited calls with their friends/family living abroad. Even though the long distance providers from US are becoming competitive, VOIP option gives a different dimension into the price wars. Also, you can use the link for other purposes like exchanging photo etc. Voice quality on VOIP is pretty good these days.

Today biggest problem for aged parents of NRIs is the technology fear-factor (handling computer/laptops). if there is some kind of a video phone type of equipment that can be used for uploading/downloading photos without use of computer, it may find great market. I know there are some services available that can upload/download photos from the internet into a digital photo frame, but it has recurring monthly service charges.

Reliance India call reacts to Airtel Call Home, lowers the price in par with Airtel

December 21, 2006

Good news, Reliance lowered their price (at least till 31st Jan 07).

Now, that is pretty hard for reliance india call loyalists to switch. Even though I want to thank airtel for bringing in the price war, I am still mad at the way they have launched their service without proper testing.

Airtel Call Home sucks

December 12, 2006

Airtel (unit of Bharati Telecom, big reputed mobile company in India) introduced this service to call internationally from US (mainly to India). This is probably in competition against Reliance india call.

Stupidly, I signed up to their service, thinking that it is a big company hence their service would be OK. I signed into Reliance also at it’s early days and it was never dysfunctional like Airtel. All said and done, reliance web site may look little primitive, but their service was excellent, customer service was reachable all the time (there was no need to call them in last two years). I guess you get what you pay for.

Here, it allowed me to register, took my CC number, but does not allow me to register my phone numbers. That being the most important thing, I tried to call up their customer service number, which is busy all the time. I sent an email, for which I got an automated reply saying someone will contact me, nothing has happened so far (it is second day today)

If Airtel wants to be a serious player in this field, they should clean up their act. They cannot go live without making sure things are in place. (like the 800 number for customer service).

Update: When I sent a mail to customer support, here is the bounced back message, isn’t it hilarious:

Subject: Re: PIN Reminder

was not delivered to:

Customersupport@airtel.in

because:

Error delivering to Customersupport/ES-Carrier/Airtel/BTVL; Router: Database disk quota exceeded

Update 2: Finally, I thought let me try it out directly and take the pain of entering the account number and pin. Surprise!! All it asked me was for PIN, so it did register my number, but I dont know why the hell it needs the PIN. Once I could get in call quality was good, but lot of irritants all the way

  • Lot of instructions, repated greetings (Welcome to Airtel, Welcome to Airtel)
  • It asks you to dial your home number in the same way you dial in India (like STD code + number), hello!! what is the need to make it look like that?
  • After the number is pressed you need to press the # sign.

    I guess I just need to finish what ever I have filled and then revert back to using Reliance India call, even in their early days, their system was robust. (Remember, they provided free calls etc)

    Update [21-Dec-06]: Reliance has matched their price with Airtel. Thanks and no thanks to Airtel.

    Also, checkout my musings on voip service, using bsnl broadband and getting ripped off by regional bells (no longer baby bell).