Thursday, August 9, 2012

The curse of 256 Kbps !

Some things are never meant to be ! And, apparently that is precisely the case with my internet speed - wherever I go... Here is a brief chronological summary:

Phase I (1990s): No Computer, No Internet (0 Kbps)

Since I hail from a middle class Indian family, we could never afford a computer in my early childhood days. In those days (90s), owning a computer used to be a luxury that most of the Indians could not afford. But, Moore's law helped and the market saw better processors every 18 months or so.

Wikipedia defines Moore's law as follows:
Moore's law is the observation that over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years.
This meant that if you are not looking for the best in the market, you could easily find a model that is affordable.

Phase II (late 90s, early 2000): Dial-up internet (56 Kbps)

We did find a P4 that fit in our budget in the late 90s. Now, the next need was to connect to the world. Broadband (India's telecom department defined Broadband as 256 Kbps download) was expensive and we certainly could not justify the need for one. No one in our family had an obsession for computers - but, we all did learn to use it well though.

The only other option of connecting to the 'Cloud' was a dial-up connection. We got one and were finally able to connect. Checking emails at home was a luxury we did not have before. Forget streaming of videos - it used take forever to buffer. We never attempted after a while.

Phase III (Mid 2000s): Broadband finally (256 Kbps)

We kept moving across different parts of India as my dad had a transferable job. Everything changed with each move - People, practices, local languages, food. The only thing that never changed was the speed of Internet ! India never invested in setting up good infrastructure and it is beginning to show now. But, we will discuss India some other time - let us get back to my curse !

We finally got our first broadband connection. Everybody was thrilled that now we would have 'high speed' internet at home. Of course, what we didn't know was that 256 Kbps was the 'maximum' download speed !!! And, the curse continued in my life. We were just slightly better off than dial up - we used to get somewhere around 50 Kbps on an average and if the days were good, a speed of 100 Kbps !!

Phase IV (Late 2000s) : The era of Mobile internet (20 kbps)

I started working and moving places and there was no real need to own a personal laptop. We did have the USB stick for internet so as to be reachable wherever we are. 'Mobility' and 'availability' were the buzz words... And, of course, the curse continued...

Phase V (2009-2011): Montreal, Kanaada (also called 'Canada')

Despite majority of apartments having fiber connectivity, somehow, I landed up in one which had copper connectivity only. Apparently, they had plans to land optic fiber in that apartment but i guess they were waiting for my departure from that apartment !! People are usually surprised when you tell them that your internet connection in North America sucks - For me, it was just 'status quo' so i never bothered to think that much.
Obviously, almost all apartments had superb connectivity - my apartment was just an aberration.
But, the curse continued !

Phase VI (Late 2011 - Early 2012): Singapore Part I - The copper story continues

I moved to Singapore and found a beautiful place to live in. It was right in the center of the city - Life could not be better. Almost 75% of Singapore is Housing development board apartments, another 20% are condominiums and maybe about 5% are private landed apartments. Out of all the choices, somehow, I landed in a private landed apartment !

Singapore being the city it is, I never even thought i would go through the same trauma of internet connectivity. However, some things are never meant to be! My apartment had copper connectivity and internet speeds never went beyond 100Kbps. And, the story continued...

Phase VII (Early 2012 - Present): Singapore Part II - 16 Mbps at last !

After six months of staying in the heart of Singapore, I decided to move things around in my life. Of course, that was with the hope that I would find a peaceful place without the hustle bustle of tourists and shopping malls. I did manage to find a beautiful apartment.

With all my past experience and struggle, I was extremely cautious when choosing the type of internet connectivity. One of the operators offered me a 16 Mbps connection for a reasonable price. It was working well and I was so relieved that my struggle has finally come to an end. But, some things are never meant to be.

My wireless router, which was working as smooth as a whistle in my previous apartment, refused to co-operate. It had become moody and connected only when it desired.. And, the story continued.

As of today, the author has a new wireless router in place. However, now the high speed connection has become jittery !

The author is now at peace with himself and doesn't even attempt to do anything about it. I guess some things are never meant to be !!!!

1. Internet connectivity at Montreal and Singapore is super fast. My case is certainly an aberration.
2. I have not seen the progress of connectivity in India for almost three years now - So, my views maybe a little outdated. But, there is no doubt that Infrastructure is in a sad state in India. A detailed blog some other time.
3. Definition of broadband in India will be changed to 2 Mbps (download) from 2015 as per government guidelines


Anonymous said...

Does the author have any friend who work in the area of networking and can help out?

R Athmanathan said...

The author has a lot of friends in silicon valley who are bonds in networking. The author too is an engineer and is pretty good at these stuff!!
This blog is more about some strange co-incidences which tend to make me believe that "some things are never meant to be"..

lea said...

It's a horrible coincidence if you really deem it as a coincidence. Probably you were just kind of unlucky during those times that you happened to settle in areas with really slow internet speed.

R Athmanathan said...

Yeah - it is a terrible co-incidence. But, that's the story of my life! This made me believe that some things are not meant to be - how much ever you try!