28 Dec

Thoughts on NKN – National Knowledge Network

You might have heard of NKN i.e National Knowledge Network by Govt. of India. Overall idea of NKN was to connect all educational institutions within country including all IIT’s, IIM’s, NIT’s and various govt. universities on fiber at 1Gbps speed. Though little late and crazy way of solving problem, but still NKN is nice effort from Mr Sam Pitroda.


I was talking to a friend from IIT Delhi last week, and here’s his speedtest.net result from his room (yeah room, not any lab!)


Surely speed is amazing, and on top of that in IIT Delhi, this sort of speed is offered with a decent 2GB/week cap thus a total of 8GB/month which is not bad at all on 9.5Mbps! ūüôā

NKN is a totally¬†separate¬†Autonomous System ¬†– AS55824 and it takes Internet transit from AS4758 – National Informatics Center (which further replies on main transit carriers like Tata Communications, bharti Airtel & Reliance Communications for further internet bandwidth. Here’s a quick look at Network layer of NKN from RIPE RIS collector.¬†




Clearly almost whole transit part is via AS4758 which is one of border routers of NIC linking to VSNL aka Tata Communications.


Quick look at Physical & data link layer




NKN Network has 3 main parts

  1. Core network
  2. Distribution network
  3. Edge network

As by the name, core network is the core part of NKN network with 18 routers linked all together at 10Gbps DWDM wavelengths. This runs on top of (un-utilized) fibers of BSNL, RailTel and Power Grid Corp. Next, core routers are connected to distribution network which consists of across 25 PoP’s across country.¬†

In this way most of cities are connected all together in meshed manner.

Next, last part of network – edge network which connects educational institutions with the core network. These institutions are (mostly) connected to two PoP’s over protected fibers.


Real world impact

NKN has been able to show real world impact which isn’t true for many Govt. technical projects. Although NKN is blank at core level where idea was topromote¬†collaboration, innovation and information sharing“. Most of such big private networks (with Internet access running on top of them) fail badly in terms of application running on top of the connectivity layer. Same applies on NKN too. People still know NKN as “fast broadband for colleges” because still gmail works better for file sharing then a file sharing app running on top of VPN behind a proxy!¬†

Apart from that, still there are much research work is going on in these Indian¬†institutes¬†which really demand for ultra high capacity for data sharing. I wonder if IIT’s are working projects like DNA & other Bio Technology¬†related¬†research¬†work which really needs lot of storage and eventually bandwidth in sharing (like this one). To me it seems purely like Govt. of India accepted the fact that these institutes need more bandwidth to stay innovative (which is true) and current bodies like BSNL, RailTel were failing to do that based on their operational structure. In this manner NKN really helped in fast deployment of such fast bandwidth network. With hope that this sort of network will eventually help with a framework for projects like YouTube for schools which can have really powerful impact.



All industry needs from Govt. side is good policy and bit of investment in infrastructure. That is all enough to trigger spark in private sector for broadband and competition which is way more innovative then Govt. on application layer – creating better software running on top of Physical infrastructure.


Given fact that Mr Sam Pitroda publically says that there will not be any replication of existing infrastructure, I will look forward towards National Fiber buildout (which is just Panchayat fiber build out in a way… ūüėČ ) and eventually having that as “open infrastructure” which can be leased by small private players for offering various services.

Here’s an interesting interview of Mr Sam Pitroda covering NKN, National fiber buildout and various other plans. Surely, lot to come!






With hope to see better infrastructure in future, good night! ūüôā

24 Dec

Simple bash script for IP-ASN mapping

Whenever I see a new unknown IP range, it gets hard to find exact source of that IP within command shell. Recently, I found a very interesting source of that information from Team Cymru. Here’s the resource.

I figured out (with a friend’s help) that using their whois server –¬†v4.whois.cymru.com one can actually grab limited information as required.¬†


anurag@laptop:~$ whois -h v4.whois.cymru.com "  -v"

AS      | IP               | BGP Prefix          | CC | Registry | Allocated  | AS Name

15169   |          |          | US | arin     | 1992-12-01 | GOOGLE - Google Inc.


As we can see -v gives all possible information. All I needed was AS number, AS Name, BGP Prefix, Country code – this gives enough information for an IP address. Thus command turns out to be with -c & -p.

anurag@laptop:~$ whois -h v4.whois.cymru.com " -c -p"

AS | IP | BGP Prefix | CC | AS Name
9829 | | | IN | BSNL-NIB National Internet Backbone

Making this all quick easy to use.
Writing command in a quick script:

# Script for whois with details
read -p 'Enter IP address : ' inputip
whois -h $hostname " -c -p $inputip"

edit .bashrc located in home directory (hidden).
add following lines to the end of the file:
alias awhois='//whois.sh'
Logout and login and done!
Now, you can simply use awhois (A = Advanced! ūüôā ) to do advanced IP whois lookups.
Here’s a live working example:

anurag@laptop:~$ awhois
Enter IP address :
AS | IP | BGP Prefix | CC | AS Name
20115 | | | US | CHARTER-NET-HKY-NC - Charter Communications

23 Dec

End of inter-circle roaming: Good or Bad move?

Today I read in news about Govt’s decision to finally end inter-circle roaming agreements between Airtel, Vodafone & IDEA.
Well, the case is not new. It has been up with doT from over months and got highlights when CEO’s of all 3 firms wrote letter to Prime Minister of India for his intervention.

Little background

In 3G auction held in 2010, none of the operators got pan India spectrum across 22 telecom circles. Most of them have license in around 10 circles (few in 9, few in 11 and so on) and thus no one can provide full Nationwide 3G coverage.

Why did that happened?

Well, it was already expected well before auctions as Govt. gave only 20Mhz of spectrum in 2100 band in most of circles. It was decided that each player will get just 5Mhz, which brings number of 3G operators per circle to just 4. In all circles one slot was reserved for BSNL & MTNL (infact they were allocated spectrum back in 2008) and hence in most of circles there was scope of just 3 more operators. This was a problem as we do have more then 3 mobile operators at pan India level and which are big and doing pretty good business. Airtel, Tata Teleservices, Reliance, Vodafone, IDEA, Aircel, and few other small operators. Hence it resulted in cases like Airtel getting spectrum in Delhi, while IDEA missing in Delhi and going in for Haryana, where we find Airtel missing. (Here’s detailed circle wise allocation)
Few months back , Airtel, Vodafone and IDEA eventually got in an agreement for inter-circle roaming. It was a situation where a user say of Airtel Haryana (where Airtel has no 3G spectrum) will use IDEA’s 3G network and will have seamless experience and no roaming or any extra cost.

Inter-circle roaming agreement: loss to Govt?

One of big controversies here is claim from Govt. that Inter-Circle roaming agreement was huge loss to Govt as operators who have not paid for a specific circle are offering service in that circle. Thus Airtel giving 3G in Haryana is like Rs 300 crore ($60million) loss to Govt. and same applied on IDEA giving 3G in Delhi – loss of $600million to Govt.
Is that true? Well, I am not a¬†lawyer, nor I have read 3G agreement carefully from legal eyes to find if such sharing is permitted or not but from common technical sense I can say that’s just a bad judgement from Govt’s end.

Why bad judgement…

  • Less spectrum was auctioned¬†initially (that too after years of delay)¬†and operators had no choice but to go for just few circles. (mistake from Govt. end)
  • Broadband still suffers badly in India due to very poor policies of Govt. ranging from very poor management of BSNL to poor niXi tariff policies. We stand no where in top 50 list in terms of broadband speed and penetration. Checkout NSN’s Connectivity Score Card on India.
  • Since operators had limited spectrum, capacity is always limited. ¬†Thus if Airtel is sharing 5Mhz with IDEA, it is still 5Mhz in total. Hence Airtel is probably not making an undue gain from the deal. Airtel has not paid to Govt. for Haryana circle but in a sense paying to IDEA for the same. They are not getting things for free!
  • All operators all already feeling hard on cash and another auction doesn’t makes sense + they are still investing a lot in building new network which is used by just a few users. Such sharing would have¬†boosted¬†up ¬†usage significantly.

Well, based on above points, I don’t see any sense in not permitting such agreement. If it was illegal, then may be a policy should have been re-considered rather then causing another road block for broadband in India. What else Govt. of India expects from telecom players after getting $15billion in 3G auction that too just for 5Mhz block.
It is again one of decisions where I see Govt. to be less responsive towards pain of poor broadband in India and more concerned about making money from telcos which in-turn is passed on to end users of India.
With hope that India will have better broadband soon, Good Night! ūüôā