Category Archives: Kanpur

Tata Photon+

I got Tata Photon+ mobile broadband connection during 2010, it worked well initially for a month or two.I can notice, their services have been degrading since then (late 2010).

Connectivity is not an issue, but download speed and latency.

A recent test results done on June 6, 2011
Tata Photon+ Speed Test 1 against Delhi Server Tata Photon+ Speed Test Results - Mumbai Server

We all know, most of marketing/advertisements campaigns are big lies.  There is big disconnect between the idea/dream they show and the reality.

In the case of Tata Photon+, they advertise about giving ‘up to 3.1 mbps’ download speed BUT I am yet to get 1 mbps consistently for an hour, leave alone days.

I guess, this is location specific. Places like Kanpur and other cities in UPE are not given enough of importance (network infrastructure and attention)?

Whenever I complain to Tata Photon Customer Support, someone visits, tests using speedtest.net against Delhi/Mumbai servers, and shows me test results (skewed?) which is generally in range of 600 kbps to 1.2 mbps.

When I show him results of tests done against servers in USA and Europe, they would argue  - which reflects their ignorance about technology and terminology (ping, latency, etc.)

Yesterday, I filed another complaint over phone. I got a call asking if I was in front of computer, I said “No, but I would be in couple of hours and tomorrow”. After couple of hours, I got a SMS suggesting my complaint-ticket had been resolved and marked as closed. Really? No one visited me.

I filed another complaint using web-site, got around 10+ calls within 12 hours. All of them asking same question “What’s problem sir”. I don’t understand, why didn’t these guys look at their CRM and read the details (which included the speedtest.net test results)?

Anyway, one of those guys (from some Tata hired agency) visited me today. He repeated the same process of testing against two Indian servers using speedtest.net. This time, he got lucky speed results showed around 1 mbps agaisnt Delhi/Mumbai server. I requested him to visit again tomorrow in afternoon and perhaps at different location.

During middle of meeting, this fellow stood up and walked out. I followed him to ask what happened?

He misbehaved by saying “I heard enough, I am going. That’s all we can do”.

I felt offended, I asked about his details, he denied giving by saying “Do whatever you can”. He left ignoring me.

I feel bad as customer, and also because I have been a Tata employee. I had never expected, one of Tata companies would do such things i.e. poor service and worst customer support (not at phone, but at ground level – those visiting agents).

I feel, I have wasted so many hours talking, thinking and complaining. No one wants to listen and do anything.

Updates:

  • June 24, 2011: I found Tata Photon very slow at my residence, hence filed a fresh complaint (requested that someone should visit me on Sunday at my residence to test speed in that area) via phone. CSR said, they don’t work on Sunday, I said – I can be available on weekdays provided an appointment is taken.
  • June 25, 2011: I received two calls from Tata Photon support team. In both calls, I was asked same question “what is problem, sir?” with one difference, in latter call I was told that they can visit me on Sunday
  • June 26, 2011: I got a call, where I was asked same  and some more questions:
    • What is problem, Sir?
    • Did you buy device with warranty?
    • What speed do you get?

    I told them, “I am happy with the device but not with the signal and speed in this area (my residence), hence needed someone to visit me and test speed here”. They asked me to go to Tata Photon centre, around 8 kms from my place. I asked, “how can they test issues of this area in different area?”.

    They threw another bomb by saying, a fee( INR 75) needs to be paid by customer, if he/she wants technical-support-engineer to visit customer’s place?

    I got upset and reminded that this is mobile-broadband. Isn’t it their responsibility to make sure connection signal and quality is good in all areas?

    Anyway, that was new, I had not paid such fee earlier.

    I asked, when did they start charging? She said, “Yesterday”. I reminded her, I filed complaint day before yesterday. She said, it has been started on June 20, 2011.

    I asked her to pass the call to her senior, who ended up saying the same thing. I told them, the policy is ridiculous.

Why a customer has to pay extra to get service related issues checked/fixed? Isn’t customer already paying every month? Isn’t it Tata’s responsibility to provide services as they promise?

I have invested some money and time to get the device and connection; I can switch to different provider, but device might not be reusable unless someone buys it from me.

Once again, I am disappointed by Tata Tele’s services. I am going to move away from them and would not recommend Tata Tele’s services to my family and friends.

More Updates:

  • June 28, 2011: As an last attempt, I wrote an email to Tata Tele Services contact and also copied the same to UP East Nodal Officer.
  • June 29, 2011: I got a call from a senior Engineer, who visited me on the same day. During 3-4 hours long troubleshooting, he figured out the reason behind slow speed, which is, HSIA signals was not as strong as CDMA 1X, and some tower issues.He got an antenna installed, on the roof-top, and connected to my USB device. He promised to get a repeater installed during weekend, so that all devices at our place can get better quality signals.
    Once antenna was installed, and some augmentation was done in one of the towers, things improved a bit.

    He seemed a good professional and knew the stuff. He earned my respect. I learnt, good guys are very overloaded because someo of their peers don’t do their work properly :-)

  • July 2, 2011: Two Tata Photon smart junior-engineers visited and installed a repeater at our house. The senior engineer kept his word, he earned more respect.I can feel the difference now; Two different tests during last 5 hours have given very positive results, as shown below:

    Tata Photon Speed Test Tata Photon+ Speed Test Result

    Tata Photon+ Speed Test using 2Wire.com

    Once again, I gave my feedback about service and the misbehaviour by one of their peers. I am sure, the good-guys would fix things by putting peer pressure and leading by examples.

    As far as fee for visit is concerned, I was told by one of the engineers, it is for the cases where customer’s device or computer is found to be faulty, not the service. I wonder, why I was not told the same earlier during the call, which made me upset?

    I am going to wait for couple of days. If I get consistently better quality speed, I would strike out the line (about not recommending) above. Anyways, there are some issues with Tata Photon+ customer support and service, which would need to fix, so that all issues can be resolved without any escalation.

    Tip: Choose HSIA from network-settings of Tata Photon+ dialer, this would force modem to use to HSIA enabled towers/frequencies and would avoid using CDMA 1X.

Internship Opportunities @ Allies

We have been working on some exciting stuff for over last three years, we want to take that to next  level. We also have some crazy and cool ideas for new products/saas, we have got enough details figured out to get started.

We want some smart interns to work with us during this summer or longer (perhaps six months or full-time :-) ) in any or all of following:

  • Web Development (goal: build new products or extend existing products)
  • Mobile (goal: turn our ideas into reality by building some cools apps and games for iPhone, Android and other mobile-devices)
  • Flash Platform (goal: build some cool applications for our existing project)

Summer vacation has started in most of the colleges in India; Some passionate students would want to do something more useful during this time.  If you are one of them, why don’t you get in touch with us?

BTW! We are always looking to hire smart and passionate designers and developers for our team. If you are interested into a full-time position, please let me know.

TEDx in Kanpur – TEDxIITKanpur

Entrepreneurship Cell (E-Cell), at IIT Kanpur, is organising TEDxIITKanpur event on March 12, 2011. This is the first event of it’s kind, and I hope we would have more of those (TEDx, BarCamp, DevCamp, etc.) in Kanpur (within IITK campus or outside).

Our company (Allies Interactive Services) is honoured to contribute as design sponsor of TEDxIITKanpur, and hopefully other events organized by E-Cell, IIT Kanpur.

Entrepreneurship session at IIT Kanpur

Entrepreneurship Cell (E-Cell) team at IIT Kanpur invited me to talk about “idea to business-plan” to some students (budding entrepreneurs). I ended up speaking about different things, hopefully I covered what they were looking for.

I mostly iterated what successful leaders, entrepreneurs and businessman have shared over the years.

A very brief and high level outline of my talk:

  • started session with Derek Sivers‘ Ted talk “How to start a movement
    • an entrepreneur is seen as half-naked guy who is dancing alone, different from crowd, in Indian society.
    • it takes courage to start something while you have choice to work for the best companies
    • there would be skeptics but don’t worry about that.
  • what it takes to be an entrepreneur?
    • get going and get your feet wet, enjoy challenges, trust your instincts, get a good mentor, learn from experiences, learn from others)
    • be prepared for uncertainty, rapid growth, quick and drastic changes, limited resources and resource conservation
    • respect time, short cycles and more results
  • some stories
  • YouTube: first in solving problem but very late in figuring out business-model
  • Flickr: their idea and usefulness
  • Bulkr: how Prakaz came up with a useful product, while he is/was in job. Build something that you would use
  • Directi: about two brothers who have built a great company with little or no funding
  • Allies: why we got started, how we do some things, some pains and gains
  • some books
    • Blink: instinct and intuition. what customers do? how they do? avoiding asking what they want because human preferences are unstable
    • The Tipping Point: why certain ideas tip
    • ReWork: a new way of thinking business
    • Freemium: business model. why freemium works? examples: google-apps, e-books, etc.
  • some of my experiences
    • funding: bootstrap on your own, if you can. or take as less as you can from outside. retain control and ownership. go to someone who can not only give you money but also be your mentor
    • hiring: difficult to attract smart folks. share your ideas/vision. give equity instead of high salaries
    • operations: equally important. be ready to take care of things so that your team can execute your ideas
    • challenges: getting ideas executed, getting customers, getting a good team, getting a good accountant, etc.
    • sales/marketing: various market-places, complicated tender process, social-media, word-of-mouth, freemium
    • retaining customers: commitment, think of them before your own personal gains, good process, good support
  • importance of connections
    • keep in touch with everyone you know or would know
    • go and enjoy parties (twitter, linkedin, facebook)
    • follow gurus and interact with them over social-networks (twitter, facebook, linkedin)
    • go out, help others and get helped

After session, couple of teams discussed their ideas with me and wanted my thoughts. I shared what I knew, hope I could be of some help.

Thanks to entire IITK E-Cell team for inviting and giving me an opportunity to share some of things I know. It feels great to give back.

I already know, I need to get better speaking on stage. With every opportunity and effort, I am getting better. Hopefully, I can engage audience and be entertaining in coming years.

I would hopefully elaborate some these items, when I feel like. I am posted these as a record/note to myself, before I forget what I talked about :-)

Cities and Ambition – My Experience

Paul Graham wrote a nice essay titled “Cities and Ambition”. When I read it, I had already returned to Kanpur (my hometown), I took the essay in slightly different manner i.e. I challenged it and motivated myself by thinking, I can do great stuff from this city.

Just after one year or little more, I am in agreement with that essay. I realize, how a good city (and people there) matter in whatever you do.

At work, I ended spending most of time dealing with personnel issues and trying to mentor about obvious things (in development and programming).

Outside of work, I don’t feel like going out anywhere, not even walking on streets. I just don’t like the attitude, psyche and habits of people here. I have, slowly, stopped doing all activities – photography, bike-rides, blogging, participation-in-events, exercising, etc. I am trying to understand the reason, I imagine it could be because of lack of motivation or I am too busy trying to do a few things.

Another important thing, it doesn’t matter, who is holding what position, or how much rich one is, or what is someone’s background – most of them don’t know the basic etiquette and manners (traffic, talking, respecting, eating, etc). Everyone appears to be selfish, who just cares about himself and his things (house, car, job, etc). No one bothers to care about other people and city.

I don’t know, I can change others but I have kept myself the way I have been i.e. I still avoid throwing garbage on streets, spitting anywhere and doing other bad things, so common here in Kanpur.

Unfortunately, children inherit these bad habits/values from their elders, and are not able to figure out that most of inherited values are not good.

The worst thing in this city is the kind of attention a girl/woman gets from males (from 7 yrs to 80+ yrs). It’s weird to see the bad treatment given by males to females almost anywhere (roads, shops, cafe, etc). One could easily notice these things. Hard to imagine, how much a female-of-kanpur has to go through and tolerate.

It’s sad, but true, today whatever Kanpur is because of it’s people. I am not complaining here; I am just writing what I notice – Kanpur is not a good city. It could have been better or remained better (as it was some decades back), if people were better. We (Kanpurites) deserve whatever (bad culture, bad public infrastructure, etc) we have now.

The day, we start changing our attitude and habits, we would see the change.

Meanwhile, I am going to work hard to be what I am, if I can’t get better. Things said above, are trying hard to change me, directly and indirectly. Each and every moment of the day remind me of my ambition and vision, I would not let anything stop me from doing it. If It takes me to move out of the city, I am now ready to do that too.