18 Jun

Travel of poor labourers at Delhi IGI airport

Last week while travelling to London from Delhi IGI airport I was standing in immigration queue. One of fellow passenger (likely from Bihar as per my guess from his accent) came right behind me. He was bit afraid and asked me in low voice if those (immigration) gates would get him to his flight for Dubai. I smiled and told him that it’s common passage for everyone travelling to just anywhere and explained to him about his gate by looking at his boarding pass. By this time he appeared less worried and stood silently behind me. After few mins as queue proceeded a group of 4 travellers (again of similar profile) proceeded to immigration desk and I heard multiple immigration officers screaming/shouting on them for coming to their desk without boarding pass. I even heard a loud noise “You all guys are going to return here in few days and would loose all money!” as one of immigration officer said to them. I just wondered since when did that immigration officer became career consultant! ? I noticed that person standing behind me was quite restless and was looking at my face. I told him that it’s OK and that he was already holding boarding pass and he does not need to worry.

This is pretty much same case I see every time when travelling out of Delhi IGI. I have not travelled from any other airport enough to comment about them. But in case of Delhi IGI once in a while I come across poor, uneducated/less educated or non-English speaking workers just roaming around there in complete confusion. Behavior of members from airport staff, immigration and even security guards is very rude and poor towards these people. All these people need is help in filling of immigration form and someone to explain them politely (in Hindi, Punjabi etc) on the process they need to go through. It’s just a shame that our “modern award winning” airports just fail to do that. Their social media team does mostly reaches out to me on twitter whenever I checkin on foursquare at airport but they miss out to help people who need offline help in just basic check in.

This needs to be fixed right from the top authority. Entire staff should be trained and explained with facts that not everyone is used to basic systems or just reading when travelling for first time. I often get confused when at a airport or railway outside India and everyone around is mostly very open and willing to help. They do not scream on me for asking “next-hop” for the route!  Apart from that I find a certain disrespect for labourers going to gulf countries. Why it should be?

Yes, we all have heard of stories when these people are cheated or not paid well. But that further explains how hard life they already live. Why make it more harder by putting them to go through this “exam” like condition at airport? Most of them bring foreign exchange to country while uplifting quality of their family back here in India. Instead of respecting them for their work and helping them, our system collectively works hard to make them feel low and bad about themselves. I noticed exactly same issue at Dhaka airport where when I helped one person in “filling form” I was just grouped by 5-6 more people back to back. Why can’t Govt. simply have user friendly helpdesk to help them? Also, departure form somewhat is a old and broken concept and used in very few countries like India, Bangladesh etc. If someone is crossing immigration with a passport & boarding pass, why they need to fill those details on a paper anyways?


Note: I would be presenting on “Performance of root DNS anycast in UK & Ireland” in INEX meeting on 20th in Dublin. Meet me if you are attending UK & Ireland peering forum or INEX meeting then just buzz me over and it would be great to meet. 🙂

08 Nov

Why airport wifi sucks?




Sitting at Kolkata airport. Noticed the usual “Free Wifi in the area!” message and connected to Tata Docomo Free wifi. Performance was quite poor.


Two key issues with wifi: 

  1. Using of only 2.4Ghz (802.11b/g/n with 20Mhz channel). No AP with 5Ghz box. (Click here to view scanner data). Should have been 5Ghz
  2. Entire traffic is getting tunnel via Mumbai i.e West India (while I am sitting on Eastern side). Adding up to latency and performance significantly.


Here are some of traces to random locations:




So no matter wherever I push packets for, then hit hop 5 – Mumbai / VSNL AS4755 router because likely that is where the core L3 device (MSC/central authentication box) for this network is. This is big issue because likely Tata Docomo would be tunneling entire wifi traffic from anywhere in India, going to anywhere globally via Mumbai because that is where they put their wifi central box. What we need in India is more simpler deployments, more open source stuff so cost doesn’t becomes point of selection for keeping such devices central. And most important we need networks to peer at internet exchanges so atleast East region traffic stays within East and doesn’t has to travel thousands of kilometers to Mumbai just to hop on to another network.



Overall speeds seems to be capped at 1Mbps which is too low these days and here’s 100 packet ping to first hop ( showing how poor is the wireless signal performance.


Since latency min is 48ms, quite clearly L3 end is far off in Mumbai and likely would be running ipsec or some other kind of VPN tunnels to the APs. This is ground level performance of what we hear in media “wifi business strategies“. Wifi as a technology is excellent but does take decent homework to deploy properly. Just hanging bunch of boxes and routing traffic from one MSC/central server placed far off doesn’t really helps. Wifi as a technology can help to offload stress on 3G/4G significantly as long as it is done in right way keeping in assumption that Wifi runs on “unlicensed spectrum” and interference can very much happen.

Time to catch up flight to next hop!