Thursday, August 27, 2015

The new drama about quality in Indian mobile space

Source: multiple (IBN, LR, COAI & TRAI..)

It is a known fact that most of the things in India are about Quantity rather than quality. I wouldn't blame anyone but it is more of cultural thing. People tend to talk 'big' things and 'large' stuff. So same way the telcom industry started to fight for numbers, and what they ignored is the 'quality' aspect. So while I can't tell if India offers the cheapest rates I can certainly tell that India offers the worst quality in emerging markets. Be it the voice quality (half codec), or Data (be it 4G, 3G, 2G or whatever), or consistent experience or billing.

So recently there is a fight between regulatory bodies and operators about Dropped Calls. Based on some surveys the DCR is > 12% vs Allowed rate of <3%. By the way did I mentioned that majority of nations follow a DCR of < 1% ? Singapore operators CDR/DCR is approx 0.3 (Source. IDA). Before one jump on to say that Singapore is a small country, I need to share that Singapore is far more complex than many large nations. The coverage quality, dense urban environment, and volume makes it far more complex.

Having said that, I must say the biggest problem in Indian industry is the basic infra. Be it the continuos power supply, fibre connectivity to the base station, quality labour and management.

  • Power: I better stop talking about as this is pretty common and known to the world. India has been talking about exponential growth in power production for the last twenty years. It will be the same even after 20 years (yeah, am a pessimist when it comes to some topics)
  • Fibre connectivity: Biggest problem with this is the chaotic situation at the ground. Who owns the duct or drainage or street poles in India. Everyone with a mouth and shoulder power. So the TELCO may get permission from the state government, but the local municipal / corporation authorities may well reject and cut the fibre. Or vice versa. Or even worse, the Corporation may approve but another department from the corporation may cut it off. During one of my recent meeting with a large operator, I was told that on average there are  8 intentional fibre cuts in a day in New Delhi alone. That's a huge issues.
  • Lastly the people who became less pragmatic. Very subjective topic to open but as long as the operators/leadership focusses on short term benefits and run the business as a profit generating machine without strong engineering/fundamental skills within, it is going to be a tough ride.
As long as the fundamental problems are not addressed, this issue going to be there for a long time. Hopefully either TRAI or GOV bodies will come up with some guidelines on duct usage (or passive infrastructure provisioning). 

Changi Automated Clearance System: What software it is using..

I am quite impressed with overall infrastructure in Singapore. The Government and some great guys planned it in that way, and the 'first impression' which is Changi Airport counts a lot. Recently I was a bit disappointed with the so called "random security checks(which are not really random in my experience)" and "random return security checks" but overall I am quite happy and I must say this is probably the best airport. Be it the ease of reaching/getting out, immigration/custom clearance, security checks, amenities, food (Ofcourse ,except the horrible, and super expensive indian one), crowd for takeoff/landing and the shopping options.

Out of all, the best part for me is the immigration. After the auto gates / automated clearance /  IACS/ eIACS/  deployed in 2011the whole experience is a breeze. I have never encountered any issues, and it works as it supposed to be.

Yesterday, for the first time I had an issue. After clearing the glass barrier with my passport, the system stuck. It's like you can't go back or forward. The officer came in seconds, and we noticed that the system started rebooting itself. So while waiting there, I saw the system OS. You wouldn't believe... and it's...

Now I seriously admire the developers, system integrators or programmers who executed it. They did an amazing job to go with Windows and the systems are running 24x7 with almost zero down time. I must say they are meeting the telco standard/grade availability as this is the first time in years I saw a system booting/hang. There were plenty of post logon scripts after the booting process and GUI and I guess the front end is a simple VB or HTML code with plenty of back end scripting.
After 3 minutes, the system is back and there goes it. Happy traveller, and a very disappointed looking officer who couldn't believe that Changi made a passenger wait for 3 min. Kudos Officers, you guys are really amazing to take it so personally and apologising as if this is even a 'delay'

Wish our American, Australian, EU friends or neighbours like Indonesian, Malaysian, Thai & Viet friends lean something. I love their job, especially sitting in a comfy chair on a raised platform and looking at the herd who are standing in front of them for hours. Unfortunately I always end up in the herd. Anyways, thanks to Changi once again.. the frustrations from the travel will be gone once you land up in Changi..

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Four of the cheapest travel destinations in South East Asia. Mumbai is a surprise addition in the lsit

Source: Tripadvisor

This is no surprise to see KL, Bangkok, Hanoi in the cheapest or value for money destinations in tripadvisor list. Couple of surprises though. One is missing Jakarta, and other is the Mumbai.

The rates seems not too far from the experienced rates which is quite an issue with the international surveys like cost of living surveys or expensive cities survey.

As you can see KL hotels are the cheapest at 92 per night and I have not found a hotel in Mumbai for 120. I think the tour activity in KL is the reason which is causing the KL rank to go down but if I eliminate I am sure this would be the valuest place in the world. Even the taxi rates are one of the lowest and considering the quality of ride, this would be much better than other places.

Most expensive places have the usual suspects and Singapore is in the bottom list but still the most expensive in south east asia, and second most expensive in Asia.

The problem with Singapore is mainly with hotels and dinner of 150/person is not really something I personally experienced. One could have a better dinner at less than $70 easily. Probably the Wine is the main reason for the price as Dinner includes a bottle of wine to share and if I eliminate that probably SG would go out of top-10.

In any case, I would still prefer south ease asia hotels for service. They are far better than any western hotel in EU/US given the value it offers. Be it the  comfort, room types, amenities and most importantly the service.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Five Star Hotels and cheap tactics to eat money. e.g. Paid Wi-Fi, cheap accessories

I am not sure when does the hotels around the world realized that Wi-Fi is probably the most basic need these days. With exorbitant roaming charges complimented by horrible speeds no wonder the first thing people does is to look for WiFi in any place.

What makes it frustrating is when you are on a business travel, and Hotels provide Wi-Fi for the sake of it but unusable options. i.e. Lack of speed or lack of stability or long user id, password combinations.

Places like Starbucks or Restaurants started to provide Free Wi-Fi and we can see how vastly it improved our experience. For myself, I will look for Starbucks when I need to send some e-mails or do some urgent work. Of course, some parts can be improved (especially in Thailand, where they will force you type 12 digit user id, similarly long but with special character password  to get on) but overall no complaints.

But paying couple of hundred dollars for a night stay, and going through the Bad WiFi experience really makes me annoyed. In the first place, why can't the property give Free Wi-Fi to all. Irrespective of one stays in the hotel or not, people need connectivity and it would be wonderful to have option to use WiFi. I love Shangri-La for that and Hyatt started to follow suit. I seriously hope Sheraton and other major groups start to follow.

Second thing is the 'free tooth brush' or 'coffee' they provide as part of the room. I guess most of the frequent travelers carry their own brush and daily stuff but why can't they spend a dollar to provide some acceptable quality stuff? Anyways, enough of complaining and I will stop here. But still, free Wi-Fi; It's a birth right of every individual :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Lack of any insurance provider for iPad, iPhone or Smartphone in Singapore

I have subscribed to Zurich / Mobile cover, and had some sort of peace of mind. Especially with a thousand dollar gadget in my two young kids hands. Unfortunately they stopped renewing the contract, and I couldnt find any similar insurance options for the iPad.

I have tried my best to child proof by getting a survivor case (not exactly same but similar), but today the unfortunate thing happened.

Unfortunately have no choice but through it off. The repair from apple store costs me almost the price of a new ipad 16gb, while the other shops quoted me slightly lower than that. Wish I could have got something like endsleigh in SG.

But this reminds me once again of the dangers with gadgets and kids :)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Age limit for a public sector job in India / Telangana state - 54 years for handicapped, and 49 / 45 for rest

Source: Indian Express

Wish this is not true, but seems 54 years is the maximum age a person can get in to a job. I am not sure but the state of affairs is worrying me. Taking the retiring age of 60, they have a maximum service duration of 6 years? Then another recruiting exercise to happen? or extend the retirement age then going to pass the job to their children? Who is going to bear the costs??

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Air India - Wish Mr.Modi make a daring decision to close this loss making, arrogant employee mafia organization and a disgrace to India

I still recall the early days of The Maharaja, and the warmth of traditional indian folks welcoming with a smile & nameste in to the 747. The feeling itself was like you're no longer in USA but in India.

But we all know what is going on with Air India these days. Be it an air-hostess turning off auto-pilot while the pilot dozing off or Pilot with fake papers, or fighting mid-air. All these things are visible in public news, but the most important thing is "experience". If any of you every flew with AI, you know what I mean.

Anyway, after almost a  decade, I took Air India. The new Boeing 787 to SG in dirt & dull color waiting for me on the tarmac in new delhi. The first sight itself was not too good, but I told my inner self not to be cynical and get on. Surprise, no welcome or I couldnt even recognize the crew. They are just like any other passenger. Wearing regular dresses, with unshaven/unkempt hair, and most importantly talking in the mobile phones. Was a bit confused, but managed to find my seat and tried to relax by closing my eyes.

#1st annoyance: Right after the flight started pulling out, there is a hard tap on my shoulder and I opened my eyes. There was this lady who mumbled "you need to listen to the security message". OMG, so I can't even close my eyes (no earset/pods at all)?. I refused and continued in my thoughts while trying to throw my irritation away

#2nd annoyance: Within 30 min, the usual fare of serving drinks, food began. I requested not to disturb as it was well past mid-night. While I almost knocked-off, there is another rude voice and a hard tap on my head rest as if somebody trying to hit me. There is another guy who is concerned that I am skipping my meals and not drinking anything. Irritated quite badly

#3rd annoyance: Did I mentioned that they forgot to switch off the lights?

#4th annoyance: Did I mentioned that the crew just took the last row of seats and started to sleep (as if it's a bed)? Even during when the seat belt sign is on?

#5th annoyance: By the way there is no service at all. Even when you push the button multiple times A passenger who was sitting few seats in-front of me need some hot water / milk. She tried to call the crew at-least 5 times but couldn't see anybody bothered.

#6th annoyance: Did I mentioned that they really know how not to use any equipment? For example the new 787 windows can't be dimmed/opened up with the seat buttons? It's centrally controlled so one would miss the beautiful sunrise totally.

Anyway, the list goes on. Be it the dirty, smelly seats (on the 787 itself) or total lack of empathy from the crew (did they even know the meaning of service) to attend the needy or vomiting passengers (btw, the crew doesnt even bother to clean), or noisy cabin with crew shouting across the flight (????)..

Overall, all I could tell you guys is if you want to feel like you are in the worst place possible on earth, just get on the air india for a long haul flight. IMHO, they quickly need to close this loss making, money sucking machine and disgrace of India from business. Atleast we could save some tax payers money (Billion $ / year atleast).

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Is Uber-X cheaper than Taxi Service - I dont think so

Uber is great and it helped me atleast dozen times in Singapore, few dozen times overseas. I really love the overall experience but recently I started to feel the fees in Singapore are getting a bit expensive. So I put together a quick comparison of taxi bills vs uber and the comparison does shows Uber is cheaper.

When I compare $ / Min or $ / KM, it clearly shows Uber is cheaper than regular taxis. But the weird part is my journey route is almost the same. So when I looked a bit deeper, the evidence started to surface. Some how Uber calculates the "distance" a bit longer compared to other taxi services. May be Uber is more accurate or whatever it is but if you look at the trip on 22-Apr-15 (last row), vs 30-Apr-14 (first row), or 15-Jul-14 (5th Row), the source-destination-route is exactly the same. Barring some deviation due to traffic, the fare should end up cheaper for uber as the claim.

So for me, it's very simple. I am happy with the level of taxi service in Singapore and I would go back to Comfort or other regular taxi service. Ofcourse, I would still need Uber in SFO & SYD. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Telemedicine: The next big thing to drive bandwidth requirements?

Recently there is plenty of noise in the Internet of things, or everything (IoE), connected home, smart nation, or smart cities and smart everyhing ;). During my conversations with service providers in the region, one of the biggest question is how could the SP monetize this new wave. For example, if the money is to be spent on infrastucture or m2m, the SP part is very little. i.e. they would end up providing the SIM cards. If its connected homes, then again SP got little to play. So the question always goes back to enterprise / B2B applications.

One of the most talked, and interest raising domain is healthcare. Given the diversity in Asia, this is believed to make a huge change in the coming future. Almost all major service providers in the region are evaluating Healthcare and how they can be part of the value chain. I saw Telstra made first announcement in this category by acquiring Anywhere Healthcare. I like the way Telstra been transformed from a lethargic incumbent to aggressive player.

Another country with huge potential is Indonesia. The country or the nation of multiple islands is geographically so diverse, and with horrible connectivity. Telemedicine can make a huge difference in the lives of people. Probably my guess is Telstra would focus on australia first then on Indonesia. I can see it happening with telstra global with its cloud offerings, and the same will happen with other services.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

HDB Lease buy back extended to Four Rooms

Source: CNA

In a summary, its no longer applicable for 3-Rooms and 3,000 income criteria. Now it's applicable (from tomorrow) for 4-Rooms and 10,000 income.

I seriously wish this should be applicable to all HDB and not 3-room, and 4-rooms. With this approach, elders can have a more stable income during their late years. After all it is the same HDB, and same HDB payments all people paid :)