India – most frustrating place in the world to get online?

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Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 17 total)

  • rferguson
    Participant

    We’ve all talked about the struggles of getting online in China with the ‘great internet wall’ and Russia is certainly not easy but after my most recent visit to India I was left scratching my head how a large democracy can make it so difficult for international visitors.

    Firstly, the government seems to take internet access pretty seriously and for whatever reason likes to know who it is going online. If you are in a hotel or similar logging in with your name and a room number it’s pretty straight forward. It’s when you are using a public wifi network things get tricky. Airports, coffee shops, restaurants etc etc everywhere requires you to get an ‘OTP code’. On the sign up page you enter your mobile number, it sends you an access code via SMS which you then use to access the wifi. This has never been any different and although a little cumbersome it’s always worked. Not this time. In my week there I couldn’t access a single network using OTP/SMS. Initially I thought it was my phone. I also tried my work phone, switching phone networks, nada. Until I eventually called some helpline where the agent admitted that ‘there are currently issues with international phones’. Urghh.

    Anyway I had the comfort of WiFi when at the hotels and needed to make some calls within India, Skype naturally would be my first choice. Except, India bans any Skype calls to Indian numbers from within India urgh.

    I flew Alitalia home via FCO (an airline I highly rate actually) and after take off the Cabin Manager came around to issue Wifi codes to Business Class customers. ‘Although you can’t access while we are over India – Indian Government regulations’. Is there ANY other country that bans wifi in planes flying in their airspace?


    K1ngston
    Participant

    Slightly off topic but you cant make WhatsApp calls in the UAE, the Government and Operators there have blacklisted the apps inc Skype, Viber FB messenger so you can only make calls across the carriers network…

    And I believe you cannot use wifi in the air over china, not that many of us will be doing that in the very near future


    rferguson
    Participant

    Hi Kingston. No restriction on using wifi over China. Not on BA anyway.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    K1ngston
    Participant

    Hi Kingston. No restriction on using wifi over China. Not on BA anyway.

    Thats good to know rferguson for the next time … stay safe out there 🙂

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    capetonianm
    Participant

    A friend who lived in the UAE told me that there is a VPN that can liberate you from the grasp of Etisalat and thus allows you to make WA calls, etc. It was so long ago that I’ve forgotten the name but if one existed then (at least 15 years ago) there must be others now. He said it was illegal to use them there but that the authorities had more important things to deal with.

    India may not be the most frustrating place to get online, I find in ZA that unless you have an account with one of the local operators, fortunately I do, it can be challenging. There are a number of local wifi provider groups. You have to subscribe and often pay a small fee, then they send you an OTP, but that usually won’t work unless you have a ZA cellphone. The login process is often cumbersome. Then you go to another place and it’s a different provider and you have to do the whole thing again. ONe of them even asked for an ID or Passport number. There must be a lot of people whose ID number is 1234567890123.

    Iran was challenging too but one of my local contacts lent me a smart phone on a local provider’s network. What I could access was rather restricted though but it worked for emails etc. You couldn’t access UK newspapers’ home pages as they were all locked, but if you had the URL for a specific article, you could access that.


    K1ngston
    Participant

    A friend who lived in the UAE told me that there is a VPN that can liberate you from the grasp of Etisalat and thus allows you to make WA calls, etc. It was so long ago that I’ve forgotten the name but if one existed then (at least 15 years ago) there must be others now. He said it was illegal to use them there but that the authorities had more important things to deal with.

    India may not be the most frustrating place to get online, I find in ZA that unless you have an account with one of the local operators, fortunately I do, it can be challenging. There are a number of local wifi provider groups. You have to subscribe and often pay a small fee, then they send you an OTP, but that usually won’t work unless you have a ZA cellphone. The login process is often cumbersome. Then you go to another place and it’s a different provider and you have to do the whole thing again. ONe of them even asked for an ID or Passport number. There must be a lot of people whose ID number is 1234567890123.

    Iran was challenging too but one of my local contacts lent me a smart phone on a local provider’s network. What I could access was rather restricted though but it worked for emails etc. You couldn’t access UK newspapers’ home pages as they were all locked, but if you had the URL for a specific article, you could access that.

    The thing with VPN’s capetonianm is that if they are fixed then they are found and blocked as are the apps they are trying to work. Best case in point is Netflix knows the POPs (points of presence) and then blacklists them also so unless your VPN provider is dynamic you will have your routes blocked… and why do I know all this, I had major issues with one VPN provider and now pay a yearly subscription for Express VPN giving you over 30 POPS in the US and the UK if you so need … very handy here in Asia

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    Inquisitive
    Participant

    Problem in India with public wifi is not the government, it is the mobile network companies. They make life difficult.
    India has 4-5 main Operators and competition is fierce. Hence rates are very low. So telephone companies doesn’t want easy access to free wifi unless someone using their network, so if a establishment uses one network, mobile with other network will find it difficult.

    However, the data rates in India is so cheap, it is worth getting a prepaid sim at airport or in a mall, and used that liberally. Top up is also easy.

    2 users thanked author for this post.

    capetonianm
    Participant

    The other annoying thing about a lot of wifi networks in ZA, and I’ve seen it elsewhere, is :
    “Log in with your Facebook account.”
    Why the automatic assumption that everybody has a FB account? Does anyone over the age of 12 (unless it’s for business or promotional purposes) have one, and even if I did have one, I wouldn’t use it to log in to a public wifi network. Still, there’s one born every minute, as the saying goes.


    Swissdiver
    Participant

    In the UAE, my VPN works … on 4G! No chance however on the airport WiFi (my latest experience). So if you have a generous 4G allowance, everything is possible :-/


    SAS
    Participant

    The Indian government has just banned Internet access to the Union Territory of Kashmir for the past six months. This is the kind of behaviour I would expect from the government of a tinpot dictatorship, not the action of a country calling itself the world’s ”largest democracy” which in any case sounds increasingly like a joke.


    capetonianm
    Participant

    Why ‘free’ Wi-Fi isn’t really free

    Why ‘free’ Wi-Fi isn’t really free


    simeoncox
    Participant

    “… worth getting a prepaid sim at airport or in a mall, and used that liberally. Top up is also easy.”

    Obtaining a pre-paid SIM in India is an arduous endeavour, even with a knowledable local walking you through the online process. Once completed though, there are no OTPs, no blocks. There are two major annoyances: the constant stream of advertising SMSs from the chosen internet provider, and the poor connection during peak load times. Cold-calling is also prevalent. (If the phone rings on the hour, I ignore it.)


    EasternPedlar
    Participant

    @simeoncox – there is a DNC registry which tends to get rid of most (but not all) nuisance calls. Have you activated it ? Using your Indian simcard, send the following SMS message to 1909 – START 0


    SimonS1
    Participant

    Slightly off topic but you cant make WhatsApp calls in the UAE, the Government and Operators there have blacklisted the apps inc Skype, Viber FB messenger so you can only make calls across the carriers network…

    And I believe you cannot use wifi in the air over china, not that many of us will be doing that in the very near future

    Well everyone in UAE knows how to get round that…..


    SimonS1
    Participant

    I’m in India most months, I have a prepaid SIM which I top up periodically. The 4G is ridiculously cheap, my last bundle was $4 for a month which gave 2.5GB a day.

    It also covers off the OTP issue on wifi, although actually wifi is not important with that much data on phone.

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