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Subscribers give ISPs the thumbs-down

G. Rambabu

New Delhi , Dec. 6

DESPITE strict parameters on quality of service (QoS) laid down by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), a vast majority of the Internet subscribers continue to remain dissatisfied.

According to a recent online survey conducted by the authority, the track record of the six biggest service providers leaves much to be desired. They include subscribers of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (which has 8.17 lakh Internet customers), Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (7.08 lakh), Sify (6.73 lakh), Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (6.52 lakh), Dishnet (1.89 lakh) and Bharti (0.61 lakh).

According to the findings, over 50 per cent of the Internet customers of BSNL who took the survey, stated that they were dissatisfied with the services.

Close to 43 per cent of MTNL subscribers said the same, while 34 per cent of VSNL and 29 per cent of Bharti subscribers voiced their dissatisfaction.

By far, Satyam had the least percentage of subscribers who were dissatisfied (6 per cent) followed by Dishnet (10 per cent).

The survey also noted that close to 73 per cent of MTNL Internet subscribers were not able to get the minimum speed of 28.8 kbps on their dial-up connection. Same is the case with 71 per cent of BSNL's Internet customers, 65 per cent of VSNL and 46 per cent of Dishnet subscribers.

Over 31 per cent of Bharti's (Mantraonline) subscribers could not get the minimum speed, while 16 per cent of Sify customers faced this problem.

Some of the other common problems faced by the Internet subscribers were the inability to get connected within four attempts of dialling and even if connected the number of subsequent disconnections is more than four for a vast majority.

Interestingly, this survey conducted by the TRAI, contradicts its own quarterly report on the quality of service of Internet services providers (ISPs). As per its reports, all the big ISPs have been able to reach the benchmarks that have been prescribed by it.

As per the quality parameters laid down by the authority, the ISPs should activate the dial-up service in six hours and a user should be able to access the Net in 30 seconds.

The service activation time would be measured from the time a request for service along with requisite payment is received by the ISP till the service is activated. As for the time taken to access the Net, it will be the time elapsed between giving the `connect/dial' command till the receipt of `log-in' prompt from the ISP node on the customer's terminal. The authority has also mandated that ISPs should provide an 80 per cent probability when a user makes his first attempt to log on. In the second and third attempt, 90 per cent and 99 per cent probability should be ensured. The regulator has also stipulated that the ISP node unavailability in a month should not exceed 30 minutes, while the grade of service on the link connecting PSTN node to the ISP node should be one in 100.

Even as the TRAI's quality of service report finds that the ISPs have managed to reach these standards, many of the subscribers continue to be dissatisfied. More than 62 per cent of the overall respondents believe that cyber cafes are better and easier means of Internet access.

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Subscribers give ISPs the thumbs-down


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