Experiences with Reliance Broadband in WebWorld
I admire Reliance only for one thing; their vision. For them the ends matter, not the means to achieve the same. It was with this object they had set up their vast optic fiber network across India. Early on, they realized that for effective delivery of services, they need to have company owned outlets. Hence the concept of WebWorld was born. It was envisaged to be one stop for all the telecom needs. One could apply for a new telephone connection as well as surf the internet at “real broadband” speeds.
True, the advertisements come as “Real Broadband” speeds. However, broadband for most of the people means that their Internet Explorer is loading up pages faster than their dialup. That probably explains the crowded WebWorlds across the country.
However, today I had a taste of the real broadband that they were offering. As I entered the WebWorld, I was greeted by a pretty young thing with yellow teeth grinning back at me. She asked me to choose the starter pack. I wanted to download the Live CD version of Ubuntu Linux, which is a massive 640 MB download. I asked her about the charges to burn the CD. It was amazing 40 bucks! That too after one provides own blank CD. A bit of haggling and it came down to 15 bucks. Still I feel that it is on the higher side.
Then came the actual brass tacks. After logging in the password, I had to contend with Internet Explorer. Even though I do not like it, I could not install any Opera because of the administrator privileges. This is acceptable to majority of the users, still I always prefer Opera. Using any other browser is a crime! After requesting for the particular page, I sat back and clicked on the download page for the image file. Of course, the pretty young thing kept on hovering near me, which is a strict no no when one needs to surf online. I found that distracting. This said and done, the actual “broadband” speed hovered near 30-35 KBps. For a while, it touched a high of 120 KBps. I thought I was getting my moneys worth. Yet this happiness did not last for long. Suddenly the Explorer refused to respond. The download stopped midway.
After flurry of phone calls to the local tech and in Mumbai, they finally discovered that all they needed to do was to switch off and switch back on the router! Time wasted enough because the people hired to oversee the smooth functioning are not trained to troubleshoot. What if any problem comes during surfing? The standard answer is that for everything they call back Mumbai!
While I was at it, the Internet got back to life. The optimism about Reliance turned to despair. For some time I felt that, I was surfing on Sify “broadband”! The image file to Ubuntu was not loaded and it would easily take in about 6 hours more. I had to request the assistant to manage it for me. Somehow, they agreed! Maybe it was my way of persuasion or they were being helpful, I cannot decide about the same. Hopefully by tomorrow I should get the stuff I wanted. End of pity party!
Reliance has indeed a brilliant business plan. It has set up video conferencing in order to help the smaller businesses to achieve economies of scale. I was told, in the course of conversation, that there were very few people who utilized the services. In the same vein, gamuts of electronic resources are being provided. Yet it remains high priced for an average user. For power users who are used to see speeds zipping in MBps factor would be sorely disappointed. I believe that bandwidth at the user end is good enough for video chat on Yahoo. I d agree about the LCD monitors though. They are good enough for the eye candy and I have found no issue with the same. As regards to Windows XP, it is up to those people to deploy it on such a large scale. I have not played any games on the web because I was not happy with the quality of peripherals. Some of the keyboards refused to work and the mice at times were non-opticals. It was not a happy experience altogether.
What Reliance urgently needs to do is to train the end user assistants. Perhaps change their dresses. In greenish overalls and blue trousers, most of them looked like lost peacocks. It ultimately depends on the assistants as they reflect the company’s image. Reliance should be aware of the same. This is bit controversial here because the average user usually does not mind these bloopers. For me, like most of us browsing this article we need one thing. Bandwidth. If this is satisfied, I am a happy Joe. If this is not, expect more whining on the same!
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