Saturday, September 22, 2012

Reviewed - Reliance 3G Internet Connection: Does not meet the advertised sound bites

Reliance 3G, or the third generation, wireless broadband Internet service's on the air advertisement, starring Anushka Sharma, has been, of late, getting me irritated with the air of its northie arrogance and omnipotence - the "bharpur" bakwaas types. So, when I plugged in the USB dongle for the first time, I was quite apprehensive. But, luckily, the overall satisfaction level till now has been OK. I mean, nothing great, but definitely decent quality of service.
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Reliance 3G dialler.
So, how do I rate this on all parameters? Read on!
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Any Wireless Broadband Internet Service Provider has to be judged on the following parameters - 
  • Reliability of service or average up-time
  • Actual connectivity or the bandwidth provided
  • Geographical coverage
  • Price, and
  • Customer Care
Let's see how Reliance performs on these parameters.
reliance 3G vs Tata photon+
In terms of Reliability of Service, Reliance does not give much scope for a complaint, when you are in a metro or a fairly populated urban area. However, in pockets, such as on James Long Sarani, near Ajanta Cinema Hall, Behala, Kolkata, the 3G HSPA services are unreliable to say the least. Similarly, in areas, where there are no 3G coverage, the EDGE service really crawls. One can hardly do anything worthwhile using the EDGE services. In fact, recently, when I had traveled by train from Bhubaneswar to New Delhi, my Tata Photon+ provided a better and more reliable connectivity than the Reliance 3G.
reliance 3G service review
Actual bandwidth provided remains another tricky issue. While my dongle shows that it is connected at 7.2 Mbps, the bandwidth delivered has seldom crossed 2 Mbps. Mostly, it revolves around 200-500 Kbps range.
reliance 3G score
Geographical coverage, as I have already pointed out, erratic to say the least. There are vast patches, where no signal is available. There are also major areas, where you cannot log in to the 3G network, while on roaming. Even in metro cities like Kolkata & Delhi, there are many important areas, around which the signal strength is really weak. So, however hard Anushka Sharma may try and make us believe that Reliance actually offers a "bharpur" coverage, I would not rate it at more than 5 out of 10 for coverage.
reliance 3G coverage pretty bad
Pricing seems to me as one of the strong points of Reliance, and frankly speaking, I can't complain much on this. There's perhaps an offering at each price point, for all types of users.
reliance 3G pricing good
Customer Care of Reliance is definitely better than Tata Teleservices'. Although, when it comes to technical support, in most instances, you will probably run around in a circle. In fact, I truly believe that the technical help provided by each of the service providers in India needs to be improved. Here also, nothing is much different.
reliance 3G customer care average
My ultimate verdict would be to support subscribing to Reliance 3G services, if you live in a metro city, or at a place that is listed in their website as having 3G services. In case, you travel to hinterlands frequently, go for one of the CDMA services, or even BSNL 3G, as they have more or less got the country - other than major urban areas - mapped!
reliance 3G 6.5 out 10 rating
On a scale of 10, I would not score Reliance 3G at more than 6.5.
reliance 3G shovon chakraborty review
reliance 3G parameters review

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Speed, that was supposed to free up time! Tata DoCoMo Photon+ reviewed.

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The Photon+ advertisement promised, "Get Speed. Get Time." Catchy enough. Isn't it? The trick is to catch you first and then take you for a ride.
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Photon+, according to its parent company, is a high speed Internet access device and should be able to deliver uplink speed of up to 1.8 Mbps and downlink speed of up to 3.1 Mbps. These stats look great on paper, but the reality is a bit different.
shovon chakraborty review tata photon+
Well, let’s start from the beginning. This Tata Photon+ came to me as a bundled offer with my Lenovo ideapad. Although apprehensive, due to my past "not so sweet memories", I decided to go ahead with Photon+, as it offered seamless connectivity in the North Eastern regions too, unlike Reliance Netconnect+. Starting then, it has been a tale of unfulfilled promises. Let me share a couple of such instances.
In the first case, the speed had been down to a crawl. After I had lodged a complaint, someone from the Customer Care informed me that a technician would be visiting my house to check the problem. She further stated that if faults were to be found in their network, there would be no service charges. However, if the problem was at my end, I will have to pay Rs.150/- as service charge. The technician duly visited and could find no fault with my system. It seemed that the cause of the problem lay in their network. But, come next billing cycle and surprise! They had added an additional Rs.150/- as the services charge. When confronted, they claimed that something was wrong in my system, which, by the way, was a plain lie. How do I categorize this? As cheating, of course.
In the second instance, which started on the morning of 25th May 2012, the connectivity had pulled a Sorcar like trick and had disappeared altogether. I tried calling the customer care at around 12.30 pm. No success. Around 6.30 pm on the same day, after 7th or 8th attempt, I could speak to a Customer Care Executive (CCE) at last. But, it did not solve the matters and the CCE told me that some kind of upgradation work is being done in the area where I lived, and assured me that normalcy would be restored within 2 hours. Even after 7 hours and 4 more phone calls, the situation remained the same. It was 1.30 am on 26th May 2012 by that time. What followed next is the tale of going round in circles without any solution in sight. However, by that time, I managed to do two things. I had sent a formal complaint mail to the Customer Care, thereby raising a ticket. And, I somehow checked the available bandwidth, which was a princely 11 kbps. After 36 hours had passed since the beginning of the connectivity problem, at last I could get a reliable estimate of time period till normalcy to be restored. A CCE told me at 10.45 pm on 26 May 2012, Sunday, that the services would not be back to normal state before Monday (27 May 2012) morning. Monday morning arrived, but the problem persisted. It was only around noon, that the issue was finally resolved and normal connectivity was restored. However, no one bothered to contact me for the resolution of the complaint till 31st May 2012, when a lady called me to say, ".... Sir, regarding your complaint with ticket number xxxxxx, I would like to inform you that we are closing the same as resolved, as the connectivity problem no longer exists." Without really giving me a chance to say anything, she ended the call abruptly. May be, that’s the newest way of resolving customer complaints!
Overall, the Photon+ service has not been able to stand up to the hype surrounding it. The major issues with the services, according to me, remain as follows -
1. Pricing: Photon+ is definitely costlier than its competitors. When Reliance is offering 3G 5GB unlimited services at a speed of up to 7.2 Mbps at Rs.600/- per month, Photon+ 5GB unlimited data plan costs Rs.950/- plus taxes and that too at a lower speed of up to 3.1 Mbps. 
2. Speed: As I have been using wireless Internet connectivity since 2005-06, I have had the opportunity of experiencing and experimenting with almost all the available service providers. I can definitely vouch that Reliance Netconnect+ Broadband provides a faster connectivity in Kolkata and surrounding areas. 
3. Reliability: Photon+ does not provide a very reliable connectivity and as such, it should not be depended upon as the primary mode of Internet connectivity, especially by the professional users. 
4. Signal Drop: Another major problem seems to be the drop in signals after a few hours of continuous use. The only remedy to this problem is to follow the Disconnect and Reconnect routine. At the middle of some serious work, it can be really annoying. 
5. Customer Care: The less said about the Customer Care, the better. The CCEs seem to be totally clueless as to the happenings in the network. When it comes to even the most simple of trouble-shooting works, their lack of technical prowess comes to the fore. Add to that the tendency of the CCEs to finish the calls in a hurry, probably to meet some call time target, and you have what you can call a totally "uncaring" Customer Care.
On the positive sides, Tata Photon+ has got a decent network coverage, that covers even the North Eastern states. Also, one should get relatively fast Internet connectivity in all the major regions of the country. The same however, cannot be said about its competitors. In case someone has to travel a lot and the travel itinerary include the states of the North Eastern region, only then, I would recommend buying a Tata Photon+ connection.
Otherwise, my advice would be to steer clear of Photon+. One may check out other service providers’ offerings and settle for the one that offers reliable connectivity across different regions , without any substantial drop in the speed and at a cheaper price . With 3G and 4G services kicking in, it might not be a bad idea to consider a GSM product too. However, the only problem in choosing a GSM service would be the vast difference of speed between any of 4G/3G with that of an EDGE or a simple GPRS network.
P.S. While writing this review, I have had to follow the Disconnect - Reconnect routine twice!