23 Dec

Experiences from Bangladesh trip

So last month I had a wonderful trip to Bangladesh for bdNOG. This is bit delayed.


Some thoughts on infrastructure

  1. In terms of infrastructure – roads & traffic, power, quality of builds – it seemed like India in 2000’s.
  2. Specifically roads and traffic was bit terrible and even as an Indian (who manages to drive in Indian traffic!) I still got scared out of traffic in Dhaka. Speeds, roughness and overtaking is pretty high.
  3. There was no Uber and app based services are still pretty low. It was mostly usual “yellow taxi” which one had to call. (And it was expensive by local standards).
  4. There was excessive, just excessive amounts of overhead cabling in Dhaka and most of key city areas. It’s worth noting that there is way more overhead fiber than India. I guess most of it was running “active ethernet” based solutions (not a PON).  Most was just via media converters on both ends.
  5. I got 30Mbps speeds in cheap budget hotel in Dhaka which was more higher then what I have ever seen in India! (Speedtest here)
  6. Bangladesh currently is connected to outside world via SEA-ME-WE4 (landing at Cox’s Bazaar) and a terrestrial cable route via Kolkata.
  7. Overall network connectivity with India is decent since many large Bangladeshi networks buy transit from Tata Communications (AS6453) and Airtel (AS9498). So mostly there’s direct path to India and if not direct then via Singapore which added bit of latency but was not as bad as India-China routes.
  8. Bangladesh has a real & functional internet exchange 🙂



Overhead fiber in Dhaka










Speedtest in Dhaka Hotel

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Some thoughts around bdNOG event

  1. It was amazing to see how wonderful NOG community is in the Bangladesh. It was just like other regular NOGs from Western countries. We (Indians) have pretty much zero NOG involvement. SANOG does happens once every year but still hasn’t got as heavy as response as it would have been in large country like India. I still very much like it but was amazed to see response and user participation at bdNOG.
  2. I found almost all Bangladeshi people very friendly, helpful and relatively open in sharing their knowledge.
  3. May be it’s case due to excessive outsourcing industry full of “consultants“, “dumb managers” and so many other people in chain of managing operations here in India that NOG culture just never picked up. Most of “engineers” are either working at outsourcing firms managing large ISPs network and have limited visibility of overall operations, plus under NDAs and contracts. Thus actual knowledge and knowhow sharing is very low.
  4. In presentations presentation by Md. Zobair Khan on flow was interesting (link here), PKI industry growth by Al Faruq Ibna Nazim (link here), RTT matters by Maz from IIJ (link here).
  5. Dr. Khondkar Siddique-e-Rabbani gave a long but very interesting presentation on his work in the end (link here). It was extremely interesting to see challenges he faced and how he worked around them in local way. It is what I rarely see around in India i.e “real engineering”. I blogged in past how badly our Indian education system has lost sense of engineering and it’s pretty much just about marks, competitive exams, and just blank “management”.
  6. Dr. Khondkar also gave a fair amount of idea on how patents are bad for society and why he still has/had to re-event wheel since old version of wheel is there but patented! His acknowledgement of what Computer industry has achieved in terms of Open Source softwares was remarkable and very enlightening. 🙂
  7. Event ended with pool side dinner and as soon as I came out, I heard songs of Jagjit Singh being played on the music system. Somehow I felt I was never away from home. We were culturally so similar! 🙂



Overall I loved the experience and it was great to see how close we are culturally to Bangladesh (and likely Pakistan too!). I never appreciated Bollywood as much I did after this trip. It’s success somehow keeps our culture and Hindi (movies & songs!) very popular in the region. Bangladesh also has licensing around in telecom market just like India but it was different in certain ways. In terms of retail broadband market, capping is less common and low rate speed plans (with unlimited data transfer / no caps) are more common. It’s hard to know how feasible is business of domestic startups is here in India but I greatly appreciate the online/app culture they are bringing along with domestic hosting (bringing up demand for domestic datacenters). Bangladesh is likely to see those kind of things picking up within next few years.

11 Aug

Notes from SANOG 26 – Mumbai




Just finished with SANOG 26 conference and tutorials. It went very nice.

Interestingly this time conference did not start early morning like it did in SANOG 24 at Noida. It was rather late in afternoon. Also, on very good note – there were less Govt. bureaucrats to bore attendees with usual stuff they always talk about but have very little idea. One specific interesting presentation was  Opportunities and Challenges for Broadband Wireless in India by Prof Abhay Karandikar (from IIT Mumbai). In start I felt it to be usual crappy 5G talk but later realized it was much more interesting. I loved the idea “Have 2Mbps everywhere static broadband” and not some absurd number on mobile wireless broadband as we hear in case of 3G/4G. Although 2Mbps now is much slower and I would rather suggest that we target for 10Mbps everywhere (something which can be supported by copper/coax/fiber hybrid) but anyways it was nice refreshing talk.

His thoughts were interesting but mostly impractical since had high dependence on useless project like NOFN. For the next part, we had a nice theme of keeping network simple which everyone kind of liked. Simplicity in Network Design & Deployments by Dany Pinto (from Colt) and Unified Forwarding with Segment Routing by Mohan Nanduri (from Microsoft Azure Cloud WAN team) were part of that. Santanu Dasgupta gave a presentation about Challenges of L2NID based Metro-E Architecture for vCPE/NFV Deployments and kind of confused everyone. 😛

He did a nice job to state that the way we are proceeding on vCPE concept, we are moving with further complexity on the edge CPEs. Number of technical challenges are breaking off the fundamental requirement which was to make things simple.

On conference day 2 presentation from Vivek Nigam on ROA using RPKI was a nice intro to RPKI and the reasons why it’s not just another form of IRR deployment. On important note we (at Hurricane Electric) give a green signed key in front of prefix on our bgp.he.net tool. I will do a detailed blog post about RPKI later in sometime.  Attack Trends and Mitigation (from Matt Jansen) was nice. What always excites me is the status of IXPs across the region (excluding India of course which is messed up). BDIX in Bangladesh, NPIX in Nepal etc are doing really great. Wherever I go, the fact that I am from country with dysfunctional Internet Exchange bites me.




Traffic at BDIX Vs traffic at NIXI


BDIX traffic (as taken from here)

BDIX Traffic


Comparing this with NIXI traffic (taken from here)

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Except for NIXI Mumbai, all other NIXI’s have pretty low traffic than that of BDIX alone!

Note: NIXI Chennai is somewhat standing in comparison while NIXI Delhi/Noida has very low traffic after they recently shifted to Netmagic Sector 63, Noida facility.

If we exclude random drop of traffic, then also NIXI traffic is somewhere around 35-36Gbps PAN India while we can see that in a community run IXP like BDIX that too in a relatively much smaller country like Bangladesh has a traffic of about 4.5Gbps. NIXI has been so called “supported and promoted” by Govt of India as well as strong Indian telcos but still it’s almost non-existent. Combined with this fact, even none of large Bangladeshi telcos have joined BDIX and it remains with other local competitive ISPs and content players (member list here). And even in absence of Google, Microsoft or Limelight it’s doing amazingly well. India has got around 300,340,854 as compared to 10,637,566 users in Bangladesh (as per wikipedia data). Thus even with 28x more users in India, we have barely 8x times more traffic at well funded NIXI. What a shame! 🙁 

One of very important part of so called “Digital India” push by Govt. of India should be a functional Internet Exchange with good policies. India’s Internet core need some serious fixes.


Cell phone towers everywhere…

Another interesting thing I found was the presence of cell phone towers just everywhere. Quite a few of them were using microwave backhaul while lot of them seemed to have local LCO fiber based backhaul.

Tower I saw a railway station…

Cell Tower at Kurla Railway Station, Mumbai


This one clearly is on fiber backhaul (notice the cables around and absence of microwave). While most of road side towers appeared to be microwave backhauled.

IMG_20150806_123329 IMG_20150806_123331



Clearly top metros are getting desperate for voice and data connectivity while limited spectrum, lack of competition in broadband and lack of IP telephony is all together killing a possible good market.


Some of immediate and important changes we need asap:

  1. Fix of NIXI/peering ecosystem in India. (Can’t stress anymore on that)
  2. Super easy terms for operating network in India including domestic bandwidth selling, use of transport services, and ofcourse International Long Distance circuits (so refered to as “ILD” in India)
  3. Open last mile and middle mile access of BSNL’s infra. Just like they are moving their towers to a subsidiary (news here), they also need to make their fixed line copper infra and long haul domestic fiber for use by telcos so telcos can compete over it. It’s seriously huge and seriously unused infra. Take for instance they have got around 37k exchanges (basic Tier 1/2 facilities with fixed line copper termination) and over 600,000 Kms of fiber optic cables connecting them (as per data from BSNL site here).
  4. Permission for IP telephony so that private VoIP companies can offer DID and call termination in India and this will result in migration of voice traffic over data networks freeing up hell lot of strain on limited 2G/3G spectrum across metros.
  5. More of wifi ofload of calls for native telecom calls. (Remember latest iOS offers wifi calling, none of Indian telcos are using that yet). Could be regulatory reason since haven’t seen any similar VoIP >> PSTN based app/offering from any telco yet). All all major enterprises across big cities have decent office wifi, this can remove strain of that kind of voice traffic from cell phone towers.


Competition takes care of it…

This time I travelled on flight booked via ibibo (quite cheap flight), stayed in hotel booked via Oyo rooms, travelled across Mumbai in local train, Uber and OLA. I occasionally ordered food via Foodpanda (and it was good!).

Furthermore ISP at hotel was relatively local Mumbai operator – Syscon Infoway and they had a wired wifi router installed in each room (backhauled over wired cat6 to their core). I was getting 4Mbps symmetric speeds with quite low latency. I can guess it was either fiber to the hotel or a fiber/coax hybrid.

In short this was much better than travelling via crappy airline booking site, staying in traditional Mumbai hotels or roaming across city in usual taxis or using hotel wifi with creepy proxy based authentication and sub 1Mbps speeds.

So without going into fine details of companies I named above, as consumer I very much enjoyed it and it was easier life. So competition just takes care of issues because someone can make money while solving problems. Mobile apps and internet play an important medium here and I would very much like to work in direction of fixing our internet connectivity problems. This reminds me of very nice post by Matt at wirelesscowboys blog – WISPs to AT&T Customers – We Got This.


Hoping for a better Internet future for India. Stay connected and keep peering! 🙂