In a saturated market like India, getting internet is easy. In fact, very easy. You just have to find a local ISP, submit your documents and they will wire, configure and activate the connection in real time. I've had this experience in almost every city that I've been. Internet penetration in Urban areas is very pronounced and anyone willing to put in very nominal effort is able to get internet up & running within minutes or hours at best.
However, One big problem persists. These ISPs don't always provide you services at par. You will get a fully working internet connection which is working Just fine on the legacy IPv4 technology in a multi-tenancy multi-NAT environment. It works just fine for the average consumers because they don't have a use for internet above just watching videos online & casual internet surfing, but, it poses a very complex situation to sysadmins and network administrators who want to access other networks and devices. It is very common for me to be debating over being port-forwarded and getting a Static IP so that I could work efficiently but since they have very complex multi NAT set up they ether refuse or charge arbitrarily high amount for providing Static IP. The problem actually lies in the education of the technicians and their business models. These ISPs usually buy their bandwidth in bulk from some reseller that sells leftover enterprise bandwidth. This leaves them on their own to manage the QoS and IP allocation. They'd usually buy recycled enterprise IP Allocation which is being repurposed since some business that owned went out of business or some IPs that are earlier rejected by enterprise customers due to poor spam score.
Most of the time, I find the IP address being allocated to my connection is usually shared among other customers and has a very bad reputation (which sometimes causes website firewalls to restrict me from browsing a website) or having to pass additional captcha because the IP was earlier used for spamming or other malicious practices. Now, enough of me whining about poor IPv4 Addresses, let alone the fact that some of these ISPs don't even understand what is IPv6. I recently got a connection from a Local ISP and wanted to know if they have IPv6 available. The call got transferred from sales to technical and the technical guy assured that the team that handles their local networking node will get back to me with proper information. The local guy calls me and asks what is the problem? internet seems to be working fine. I told them I wanted an IPv6 address and he didn't had a clue about what alien tech I was talking about. He said IPv6 is only allocated to data centers and servers not to consumers. (I know, Nonsense everywhere)
So the big question that comes into my mind is why is it the way it is? Why are they not upgrading their infrastructure to support modern standards such as IPv6? The reason is not a single thing but a huge chicken & egg problem:
For the beginners they don't see the demand in their customers to up-haul their infrastructure. Those who demand at one in thousands who have very special use case and for them, they just don't feel that it's worth the investment. The second is cost, the very big role player. I once visited my local ISP and was surprised to see that they were running very OLD generation hardware for distribution (seemed like they had bought the old stock from some IT firm or data center) Enterprise networking gear costs a lot and broadband in India is a very aggressive and competitive, Most local ISPs aren't big corporate with deep pockets, they can't afford to buy upfront the hardware that costs upwards of ₹1,00,000/- So they avoid investing in it. They assume they'd upgrade either when current hardware dies or if they're getting too many new connections which can compensate the cost of their hardware acquisition. This becomes the very complicated as we start digging deep.
Nevertheless, There is Jio Gigafibre coming up which supposedly has support for IPv6. Currently, one (rather expensive) option that I have to opt is to rent a Static IP and use that to create a tunnel broker with Hurricane Electric. That also grants me IPv6 for bi-directional usage. I'm optimistic that as Jio Gigafibre and ACT Fibrenet become mainstream, We'll get more aware ISPs which invest in infrastructure to support modern technologies & protocols. While the fear is that the Poor Local ISP is gonna go off the radar and eventually cause the rationalization of market where only the most competitive and innovative ISPs stand a chance to survive and all the small fishes disappear. I hope these ISPs get their lesson from the telecom industry and take necessary actions before it's too late.
Coming to the service Quality part, I'm using ACT fibrenet for almost 6 Month and their service is A.W.E.S.O.M.E. though they're a bit slow with their service requests but the fact is clear, this company stands on it's commitment on guaranteed speeds. I have subscribed to their 150/150mbps Plan and you can take my word for it. I've always got speed tests in the exact same speed range given the margin of error and latency. While installation, I was made aware that the same fibre is capable of gigabit once it becomes commercially viable (i.e. demand or competition.) Hoping to get gigabit Soon and I know for some reason that it is going to be a game changer for a lot of people. Specially the entrepreneurs like me who have their bread and butter dependent on the Internet. Hail ACT.
It's been too much of talk from my side (maybe since I'm a big sucker for internet speeds and the geek inside me kicked in when it was an IT topic) So I'd rest my words right here. I hope this article was somewhat informative. As Always, You can discuss more at ORNG Central.
Until next time,
I'm Bhanu Sharma.
See you in the next one.