19 Apr

India – Bangladesh bandwidth agreement, BSNL routing & more!

Last month India & Bangladesh went into an agreement for power and bandwidth. India stated export of an additional 100MW of power to Bangladesh while Bangladesh started a 10Gbps link to Indian state of Tripura. (News article on this here)
Tripura is a Indian state having its boundaries with Bangladesh as you can see in above map. Coming to routing side of things setup is that BSNL (AS9829) is buying IP transit from Bangladesh Submarine Cable Co. Ltd (BSCCL) at $1.2 million / year. This means a cost of around $10/Mbps/month or 662Rs/Mbps/month. It’s hard to say if it’s good or bad since other link from BSNL is via it’s other links. But yes it’s good to see a layer 3 connectivity in terms of IP transit relationship rather then leasing dark fiber or L1 waves as they would have caused bit inefficient routing in the area. In order to do this BSNL has setup a “gateway node” at Agartala. I think it would be pretty much a node with approvals under ILD from doT and extremely likely a LIM device for lawful interception.
Months before it actually came up, Dyn research tweeted about this visible routing relationship.

Thanks to Dyn for headsup on this! 🙂
Coming to setup today, here are all visible prefixes of BSNL (AS9829) behind BSCCL (AS132602):

That’s quite a lot of address space but anyways that is what BSNL is known for. 🙂
As per our bgp.he.net tool, this is around 6% of total routes announced by BSNL. You can see our report about BSNL AS9829 here – http://bgp.he.net/AS9829
Disclaimer: This post is in my personal capacity and has nothing to do with my employer.

03 Nov

Last mile broadband technology for PRESENT!

Came across this impressive cover of last mile broadband issues in Orcas Island in Washington state in Arstechnica.com. It’s very true on how so many areas are just not served and likely will never be served because when you have large telecom players bidding for billion dollar worth of Spectrum, all they care next for is very high value returns. And if they do not see those kind of returns, areas stay unserved. India has even poor story where it’s challenging to get wired broadband in most areas of country including key metro cities.
Few months back I posted story of my home fixed wireless connection and it works great. Sharing video story of Orcas Island citizens about their broadband issues and how they fixed them with fixed wireless. This is a technology which is already somewhat used and needs to be used right away for most of less populated areas and villages. It’s not fiber but yes it makes much more economical sense to get more people with 30-40Mbps symmetric pipes right away rather than waiting for years and years for fiber connection (and paying a hefty $5 billion on a project like NOFN/BBNL) or worst – giving people fiber connections with 5-10Mbps of plans!

Oh and btw I would be presenting a small research work at bdNOG 4 next week in Bangladesh. Meet and greet if you are around in Bangladesh attending the event!

17 Jun

NOFN and some thoughts

Today I came across a nicely written article in Business Standard on NOFN. Article’s title was “NOFN: A distant dream“. I must say it is one of good articles I have seen so far on the topic and most of other articles appeared to be factually incorrect and more like Press Releases of UPA.

Some key points from the Business Standard article:

According to a top official at the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), the project was conceptualised without a proper study. “NOFN would connect 2.5 lakh villages from the block level. But, no study was done on the details on optic fibre still the Block level, and how healthy those fibres are.
Experts say that the NOFN project does not include service offering. It is just about the laying of optic fibres. For end-to-end services, service providers will have to set up their own infrastructure at the gram panchayat level.
While the initial cost was projected at Rs 20,000 crore for the NOFN project, private companies will need to pump in much more than this amount to offer services to end customers.

These are precisely the points I have been raising with experts from industry from over an year. The whole BBNL project seem to have come as if UPA 2 was desperately trying to copy Australia’s NBN. The whole logic of copying NBN doesn’t makes sense at all because India has completely different challenge then that of Australia w.r.t broadband penetration and challenges. The very basic reason on why we (the Indians) tend to do such crappy projects is because of our dumb Indian bureaucracy who further work under pretty poor political  leadership.  Though with political leadership I am very hopeful as well this time under NDA Government but the way whole bureaucracy works it’s still a major concern.
Last week I was invited by XPRIZE foundation for a workshop on “Global Connectivity & Internet challenges” and there I got chance to interact with many good people (and some “not-so-good” people too). I got chance to meet one of advisors of Mr Sam Pitroda who recently got out of job. The guy was a young consultant, a completely non-technical person who approaches problems in “consultant kind off” approach and in the end does nothing other then being PR agent for Govt. indirectly. I asked him – What India will get out of BBNL when it’s just connecting gram Panchayats and there’s no clear plan at all on how people in rural areas would be connected in the end? His reply was just nothing.  I pushed him to comment on why Govt. made BSNL so terrible and he even didn’t accept that BSNL was terrible. That’s the problem with these non-technical consultants who don’t understand basics of connectivity and just can’t get anything done. In the end I was disgusted and had to end the conversation with him.

First and foremost some specific technical thoughts on whole project:

  1. Connecting graph Panchayats will not help. What is needed is last mile access network and BSNL does has significant chunk of copper based last mile right now. We can easily make use of it and reach out to a significant number of urban and suburban areas today given there’s a will power on Govt. side to do it and a kick to existing BSNL leadership.
  2. Loose on regulation and make ISP licenses free, yes just free and let village one man company to open ISPs and wire up real India.
  3. Make consistant policy on Rights of Way (RoI) across PAN India.
  4. Fix NIXI policies 🙂
  5. Keep in mind that though rural is a challenge and an even bigger problem is lack of broadband in key Tier 1 cities where there is a existing demand.

With that being said, after working in Indian (as well a bit International) industry for sometime. There are some key issues wrong in India.

What’s so wrong with India?

  1. Indian bureaucrats – from the day when they top UPSC exam till the date they retire, there’s a sense of achievement even though most of them achieve nothing in lifetime.
  2. Indian media loves to day dream about such project and showcases a completely wrong picture of such projects.
  3. Fact that if anything…just ANYTHING is done for “rural India” it feels good while anything for urban is bad is being carried over in India from over 60 years now and the situation goes worst during Congress led governments.

With (strong) hope that BJP will do much better, I will write a mail to current telecom minister highlighting these problems. Let’s see how it goes. Ending this port with 38th Episode of Clothesline covering interesting news coverage of our Indian media. 🙂

Back to work! 🙂
Disclaimer: Thoughts are completely personal and in no way reflect thoughts of my employer.