Thursday, December 22, 2011

Premium banking, Priority banking in Singapore

Someone (i guess telemarketing folks) called from Citi Bank and offered me their premium banking product called "CITI Gold" and my reaction was 'no thanks' as I thought it was another credit card :)
But later on while speaking to some of my friends realized it's a kind wealth management product. The funny part is I tried to contact them but the contact us form ( ) must have been designed by a looser or a smart manager who doesn't want any one to really contact citi gold.

After trying couple of times the site simply gives an error saying "

Sorry. One of the characters you entered is not allowed by the system for security reasons. For your protection, your request has been stopped.
You may try this request again or try another one by selecting one of the options displayed.

Great. If you don't want to have me as a customer then I don't think I'd be chasing you too :)

Now I've a good long holiday where by I can understand different options and choose the one that is suitable to me.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Prepaid mobile data plan in Singapore

Ok, I never had to look for internet connectivity in Singapore as I'm carrying multiple devices with internet connectivity. But after my recent trips to US,AU,EU&IN I started to wonder what are the options for travelers or casual data users in Singapore
It turns out be that the options are pretty limited :(

Below is a table & url's comparing the options available. As you can see perhaps SH offers somewhat better plan. SingTel totally sucks here and may be they are happy with their postpaid and doesn't mind loosing few $ to competitors in prepaid data segment.

Some comments based on my own experience is,

* SingTel is the incumbent and largest operator with good coverage and stable speeds
* SH is 2nd largest and acceptable coverage + speeds
* M1 speeds are good in specific areas but I've quite a bad experience with their mobile network. They are the only one to offer LTE in Singapore right now but that's not available for prepaid yet.

Having said that the SH & M1 may surprise you depending on the area and time of the day. So I'd think the best option is still to go with the 'cost'. If you need to have a voice plan together then all three operators offers similar plans. i.e. bundled prepaid voice + data.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

pasar malam @ Ang Mo Kio/ Serangoon North

Here is another one...
Guess the previous one at AMK just shifted to the other end of ave 3..

It's near the AMK Ave-3 & Serangoon North Ave 3 intersection. Enjoy..

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Premium bus service 548 from Ang Mo Kio to get 2 more trips..

Source: SBS Transit

I take this almost every day and by the time it reaches Ang Mo Kio Ave 10 it's full and I can see people standing (which is strictly prohibited by LTA). Good SBS increasing the services and in fact they should have done this quite some time back.
Now they've doubled it to 4 services starting @ 7.45, 7.50, 7.55 and 8.00 AM. While it's good to have 4 buses my concern is the interval seems to be a bit closely tied making the buses to arrive together or back to back.
Most of the CBD offices start by 8.30 so even if SBS starts a bus around 7.30 and make it reach CBD by 8.10 that would be wonderful to have a breakfast and go to office.

At the same time I still hope they could start the evening service too so I can travel in comfort :)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Prepaid mobile plan in Australia for travelers - II

Just left Sydney and wanted to share few +ve things about Optus prepaid mobile plan. I am quite happy I 'opt ed' for the right thing.
The plan is called " Optus Dollar Days" and it's a AUD 2 / day for unlimited text, voice & data. You can re-charge, top-up in 10, 15, 20 ..100. The validity is based on the $ value. i.e. $10 gives 10 days validity.

Here goes some screen shots on Data performance.
Most of the area the coverage was good and I can consistently get >1Mbps speed. Latency seems to be good as Skype, Google voice calls are pretty decent without any noticeable delay or lag. I tried downloading a file ~ 200MB to see whether the connection stays or 'reset' itself which is the case in most of the Asian nations. But seems there is no disconnections and I was able to download the entire file in less than 15 min.
Video playbook (HD) is good too and I can see some buffering so seems no trans-pacing is employed.

For the Voice & SMS part I am not sure but the SMS delivery seems pretty delayed. I sent around 10-15 text messages and most of them were delayed and I could see the recipient receiving almost after 5 min who is sitting right next to me :|
Voice quality is Ok and I did experienced some call drops and ironically it was near Optus campus in Macquire park ;)


* Perhaps the best deal in town if you are on a short trip. With voice/text/data for $2 a day is a good deal and the experience is not bad too :)
* You can't tether to your notebook.i.e. this is only for mobile phone and the iphone tethering option is disabled.
* Night times (peak hours) city area is slightly slow but still >1Mbps. Rest I was able to get >2Mbps.

Go for it :)


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Why does hotels charge such exorbitant prices..

Last night I was damn tired and ordered food through room service. This is what I have got.
Food is not that great in taste and I am not expecting a delicious stuff anyway. But it's really painful to pay $58 for this food.
These are the times I really miss Singapore and the options it offers me.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Prepaid mobile plan in Australia for travelers

When I travel most of the times I tend to use Wi-Fi but some times you need to rely on roaming and that single usage can make you poorer by few $. Couple of hours ago I landed in Sydney and Thanks for the lesson learned in India,  I explored whether I can purchase a prepaid SIM for Data. To my surprise Optus is offering a fantastic deal which is 2$ a day deal. So it goes like for AUD 2 you'll get unlimited data, voice & SMS (voice & SMS in Australia only). This is much cheaper compared to any roaming subscription or bridge subscription.
Ofcourse the inconvinience of using 2 mobile phones is there but who cares. I always carry two phones for biz & personal purposes. All I need to do is swap my SIM cards

There are total 3 mobile stores in Sydney airport (2 from Optus + 1 from Vodafone). In total I paid AUD12 for 5 days unlimited data. By the way I am not naive to believe it's 'real' unlimited but a speed throttled plan but as long as it serves my purpose of push mail, occasional VoIP, Skype, Googel Voice and Maps, Facebook that's more than enough.

A good website comparing various plans

Boostmobile, amaysim all are MVNOs and offers monthly packs. If you intend to stay for longer period or frequently visit the country then you may subscribe to monthly plans.

Singapore taxi fares increased again. Thanks to Comfortdelgro

Source: CNA

I don't deny that Singapore offers one of the best TAXI service at much lower rates compared to London, NY, Sydney. Having said that I'd say we shouldn't compare SG with UK or US but with HK which is similar city in terms of size, population or income status.

SG is far far behind in terms of service levels (availability of a taxi, etc) and much higher rates compared to Hong Kong. I dare say the culprit is the policy which simply drives the monopolistic behavior by ComfortDelGro. If we want to really drive competetion then we should let each taxi companies decide their own fare structure and also allow them to increase/manage their fleet size. For public transport there shouldn't be any COE or addl taxes as one taxi can easily replace 5 or more private vehicles. This helps a lot to manage the congestion and space in SG.
Hopefully the LTA start to 'manage' the taxi services rather than simply allowing them to do as per their whims and wishes.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Opening FDI in Indian retail market

In year 1991 (20 years back) our home was decorated fully and we've more than 50 people wearing new clothes and in a joyous occasion. One would be dead wrong if they think it's a festival or a function. The fact was we're getting a "telephone" in our home.

We're one of the lucky guys in the town with a population of over 100,000 but with less than 100 telephones. I even remember people travelling from near by villages to my home to receive a call.

Just a month back in Nov when I visited my home town the first thing I did was to purchase a pre-paid SIM card by paying INR 50 (~ $1) and activating a data package for 1 month by paying extra INR 99 (~$2). This was the change thanks to innovations in technology and more importantly opening up the telecom sector to private sector.

There're strikes, bandhs, harthals what not done by the so called communists & BSNL (DOT) employees not to open up the telecom sector because it'd increase the prices and people will be slaves to MNC's and large private sectors. But thanks to Mr. Singh & rest we opened up. Of course there're scandals, kick backs but my point is mainly with liberalization and introducing competition moving away from license raj.

Now when I see the retail sector, I see a shop almost in every street and corner. I'm sure they are making more than what my dad or some of my friends are making by working as a employee. Understand there're 50 million people participated in last week strike. If I take the number and estimate each shop represented by 10 people then the approx number of shops will be around 5 million. My big question is how many people are even paying income tax. I'm sure none ( or a very minor %) paying sales tax or VAT because these folks are 'small time retailers'. This is the problem I see in India where people always hide behind protective covers and 'politicians' blame those in power without any logic and work for their own vote bank benefits.

I heard below lines in a movie when the Hero was asked by friend why he choose to be in India which is a poor country.

Yes, India is a poor country.
We've leaders but poor in leadership
We've resources but poor in execution
We've knowledge but poor in innovation
We've businessman but poor in business
We've long history of culture & heritage but lack of values & morals

By the way here is a great article from Swaminathan.