Saturday, December 01, 2007

How to configure Linksys WRT54G wireless router

This article is on how to configure Linksys WRT54G wireless router to be used in conjunction with D-Link DSL 502T, ADSL2+ broadband router/modem, which is used by MTNL & BSNL broadband thru telephone wire in India. The firmware currently on this router is 7.00.1. On how to configure the D-Link 502T model go to I have used PPPoE on the D-Link 502T (not bridge mode) & DHCP on the Linksys router. Also I have not focused on how the laptop detects the network. I have presumed that you know your laptop better than the Linksys WRT54G wireless router :)
The IP address of both these gadgets is & so will create a problem while configuring thru the CD given with the Linksys machine. So I suggest don’t waste time on it like I did. Except for Norton firewall & vaccine (60 day trial version), if you need it and the quick installation guide.
First on how to connect the all the equipment (if you already downloaded the manual then you can ignore this part and refer to the manual for the connecting the hardware & then go straight to part 2..


1) First disconnect the RJ 45 wire connected to your desktop Ethernet card coming from the D-Link 502T and connect this wire to the ‘Internet’ port on the WRT54G router as seen below.

as seen in the picture above. So now there is a connection from your D-Link 502T to the ‘Internet’ port of your Linksys router.
2) Next use the RJ45 wire, which came in the Linksys box & connect one end to the Ethernet card of your desktop (which was just vacated by the other wire) and the other end to any of the ports numbered 1 to 4. I have connected to port 1 as shown in the picture below.

3) Connect the power adapter pin in the power socket as seen below
So much for the hardware connections. Power up the Linksys router & Desktop computer ONLY . Now lets get to the basic configuration of the Linksys wireless router.
This is how I have done it successfully, so you can too. :)
Open IE6/IE7 browser and type, a window will pop up & ask for username & password. Default username is blank & default password is ‘admin’ after which you will come to the screen as seen below

‘Internet Connection Type’ is by default ‘Automatic configuration DHCP’ leave it as it is J (I did not which caused me a lot of grief J )
In ‘Router Name’ enter a name of your choice.
Let MTU be ‘Auto’.
At ‘Local IP Address’ enter
‘Subnet Mask’
DHCP’ is ‘enable’
‘Starting IP address’ leave it as it is, this will be changed later.
‘Static DNS 1’
‘Static DNS 2’
‘Time Zone’ change it to relevant location.
Click on the 'Save' button.
At this point you will loose contact with the wireless router thru the browser. Double click on the computer icon in your task bar & go to the ‘Support’ tab and see the IP taken automatically by the machine most probably Now type in the browser location bar to gain access on the config page of the router & change (see above) the ‘Starting IP address’ to click on ‘Save’
Next click on the ‘Wireless’ tab give a name to your network also called SSID, remember all wireless machines on this network should have the same SSID ie network name & select what wireless network mode you need. If you have only laptops, which operate in the, 802.11g mode, (most new machines) then select ‘G Only’. Click on ‘Save Settings’.
Now switch on the D-Link 502T (the Linksys WRT 54G & Desktop are already switched on) and after the lights become steady, on the desktop click on ‘Start’ button -> ‘Run’ & type ping If you get ‘timed out’ message, then there is some error, so go over all points above to see if you have missed anything. If you see a reply like the pic below all is well.

WiFi Security
You should be able to access the Internet on your desktop. Hurray So far so good, J remember that your network is still unsecured and we still have to configure the security settings etc.
You can now turn to your wireless PC or laptop to connect it to the wireless network. Here I am assuming your laptop has a built in WiFi card, if you are using an adaptor then follow the instructions of the adaptor maker. XP has a very user-friendly wireless networking utility. If you’re setting up a network for the first time, use the Windows Wireless Network Setup Wizard, in the Control Panel. This copies configuration info to a USB flash drive that you can insert into each additional PC or device. If you use Vista (like me) it’s just as easy going thru the Control Panel for first time users. After you have gone thru the setup wizard and it has recognized the network with the name you had previously given it, now you should be able to access the Internet.
Leave the laptop on for the time being and lets focus our attention on the router configuration thru the browser of the desktop.
Click on the ‘Wireless tab & then on ‘Wireless MAC filter’ (on how to find the MAC address of your wireless machine go to right to the bottom of this page) tab as seen below

Click on the ‘Enable button’ and on the ‘Permit button’ & click on the ‘Edit MAC filter list’ and add the MAC address also called ‘Physical address’
Click on ‘Save Settings’ in both windows.
Next click on the ‘Wireless’ tab -> ‘Wireless Security’ tab and select the appropriate settings (AES, TKIP or AES+TKIP) depending on what your laptop supports. Remember that WPA2 is considered the best as also AES+TKIP if your laptop supports it go for it. Select the same settings and password on your laptop. Click on ‘Save Settings’
In the ‘Security tab’ select 1, 2 & 4 check boxes.(See below). Click on ‘Save Settings’
At the ‘Administration’ tab -> Management change the routers password.

Also select the check box ‘HTTPS’. Click on ‘Save Settings’
After you have made all the relevant then go to the ‘Administration’ tab – ‘Config Management’ and take a back up of your settings. This can be done at a later stage too when you have made all the changes you need.PS Remember that now to access the router thru the browser the address is and NOT the one you will find in the user guides ( And to access the D-Link 502T thru browser you type Happy surfing.The figure you see below is the DNS settings on my desktop & laptop and are relevant to MTNL

Finding the MAC Address and IP Address for Your Ethernet Adapter
Windows 2000 or XP
1. Click Start and Run. In the Open field, enter cmd. Press the Enter key or click the OK button.
2. At the command prompt, enter ipconfig /all. Then press the Enter key.
3. Write down the Physical Address as shown on your computer screen. It is the MAC address for your Ethernet adapter. This appears as a series of numbers and letters.
The MAC address/Physical Address is what you will use for MAC address cloning or MAC filtering. Note: The MAC address is also called the Physical Address.
Windows Vista
  1. Click Start -> Accessories -> Command prompt
  2. At the command prompt, enter ipconfig /all. Then press the Enter key.
Write down the Physical Address as shown on your computer screen.
For those who want their laptops & Desktops connected thru the Linksys WRT54G to share files/folders/drives check out

For more info on WPA2 on Win XP check out


Recently I came across two sites which generate random passwords

The first is an online generator whereas the second is a s/w to be installed on your machine to do the needful. When you use a password 63 or 64 characters long copy paste it in your WiFi router then save the password in ‘Notepad’, then transfer this password to a pendrive & paste it in your laptops.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Hutch still makes me see red

In Feb 03, 2005 I had written a review (hence the title) on then Orange & now Hutch in Mumbai (see ) nothing seems to have changed till now. I am writing this to highlight what passes of as service to pre paid customers by Hutch (soon to be Vodafone, hopefully) in India, One of my family members got an SMS on Sat 24th Mar 2007 that she had to provide documents for proof of identity by 27th Mar 2007 or else services would be cut off. Both of us went to your Century Bazaar Hutch shop on Sun 25th Mar 07 and submitted the relevant form & documents, which was collected by Mr. Manish. I took a receipt for the same. Staff here also assured us that as the documents were received; the line would not be disconnected.

On 27th March 2007 another SMS was received stating that since her documents had not been received, her line would be disconnected & for further details she would have to contact 9833198331, which she did

First Call: & was told by Ms. Suman Pai who assured her that the line would not be cut & if by chance it was cut, (someone playing Russian roulette!!!) she was to ring the same number to ask them to reconnect. Later in the afternoon she got an SMS telling her that the connection was cut, as the documents had not reached them.

Second Call: She rang up 9833198331 again & a joker there had the cheek to tell her casually ‘to visit the Hutch shop again as there was a mismatch in the documents given.’ I don’t think these guys know police verification is done before a passport is issued). A photocopy of the passport was given as proof of identity.

Third Call: This time when she rang (on 9820098200) she was told by this person that they had located her documents & ‘everything is in order’ and her connection would be restored very soon. Then how did the previous person shoot of his mouth about mismatch in documents!!!

Even at 18:00hrs 27th March 2007 this was not done.

Fourth Call: When she rang up at 18:08 hrs the call was taken by a Mr. Richard & then transferred to Mr.Maddy from the document section, kept on hold for a very long time and then the call got disconnected (I presume it was an accident at their end!).

Fifth Call: At 19:39 hrs 27th March 2007 the call was taken by Mr. Tejinder and then transferred to the document section to Mr. Sajid. This time after keeping her on hold for some time she was told that her documents were in order and the line would be restored ‘tomorrow’. Then why wasn’t her connection restored in the afternoon when she was told so? It seems it takes Hutch less time to disconnect than to connect. THIS IS NOT CUSTOMER CARE BUT CUSTOMER HARRASSMENT.

What is shocking is the level of miscommunication and incompetence in this organization where the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. Considering that Hutch had the full year (as per TRAI rules) in which to tell their customers to submit these papers, they tell a customer on 25th March 2007 & expect the document submission by the 27th March 2007. As if the customers have nothing else to do but run with photocopies to a Hutch shop at the drop of a hat. Inspite of this, the documents were submitted well before the deadline. To add insult to injury, Hutch disconnects her line after having sent an SMS on 24th and promising that she would get an additional talk time of Rs. 100/- !! I guess all this is happening because the deadline they have is 31st Mar ’07, hence the ‘headless chicken dance’.

This is the THIRD time we (all my family members) has submitted these documents. First, when the SIM card was purchased, second time to their Hutch shop (in those days at Stanrose House) a couple of years ago, and now this. What happened to the document copies, which we submitted then? I wish I had taken an acknowledgement then and noted down the number where the verification call was made from. I was too trusting then. Frankly, if we did not have such a high subscription balance to our credit we would have shifted to another service provider who hopefully knows how to preserve it’s records. This organization seems to have some sort of informal caste system where prepaid customer are treated like second class customers, they think all pre paid customers are plumbers, cobblers or other forms of low life (evident from their treatment)

Let me elucidate on this: last year when I went to your Hutch shop at Khar. The moment I said I want an annual subscription for my pre paid card I was brusquely told ‘go outside & do it” . Even on Sun 25th Mar 07 at Century Bazaar it was the same story. The forms were issued/collected in the corridor outside the Hutch shop by Mr Manish, who incidentally was late for his post. The watchman gave us the form J, who also tried to sell us a billing scheme. I think this security guy should be rewarded for showing some interest & initiative. I always use the annual subscription & I still have a hefty balance to my credit AND all this is in their kitty before I use the ‘service’.

My experience with their customer care, on 28th Mar ’07 thru 9820098200 takes the cake. When I tried to ring up Isaac D’souza at (Hutch Nodal Officer Tel as given on your website 66645000) as I had sent him an email today morning, this number was perennially engaged I spoke to customer care exec Avi Parmar who was not aware of this dept or their other contact numbers! (Do they work for the same company?)

Later, at 1122 hrs, when I called customer care to enquire why the line had not been restored, an exec by the name Steven Ali came on the line. When I told him that these documents were given at your Hutch shop at Century Bazaar, he had the gall to ask me ‘where is the Hutch shop located at Century Bazaar’. Was this person in his senses when he asked that question? I can understand the security angle if I was ringing up a bank regarding credit card problems but this was RIDICULOUS. Apparently Hutch staff in Mumbai are suffering from delusions of grandeur, thinking that we have time to waste ringing up customer care for tomfoolery! Not all your prepaid customers are college students either; many of us opt for pre paid as it’s convenient & also we don’t enough faith in the billing systems (to put it bluntly). I think their customer care executives should be trained to behave like professionals & not to speak like they do on their college campuses.

Another point I would like to highlight is that Hutch customer care seems to have a culture where they stonewall the customer when he wants to escalate the matter. That joker Mr Steven (mentioned above) would not call his supervisor when I asked for this. In 2003, (see previous review) when I had a problem with my annual renewal by sms, the staff at the Hutch shop (at Stanrose House in those days) would not call or give me the tel number or email id of their supervisor, where as at HDFC bank the manager immediately gave me her boss’s number & email-id who incidentally sorted out the matter on the same day (AND NOT HUTCH CUSTOMER CARE). Even today when I could not get through to Mr. D’souza. When I asked the telephone operator around 1146 hrs for Mr Asim Ghosh’s exec asst, the line was diverted to Mr Samar, who sorted out the problem in less than an hour (bless him for that) but even he would not give his email id as I wanted to give my feedback about my experience on this issue. He asked me to send my feedback to Frankly I do not have faith in this email-id any more, especially after my past experiences. What always stands out is the ‘couldn’t care less attitude’ or childish attitude of the customer care dept.

In the service industry one thing has always been clear. That is, every customer may accept a mistake as long as there are no lies, arrogance or hints of cover up provided the mistake is admitted to and rectified immediately. In this entire episode over the last two days no one admitted there has been a mistake on the part of Hutch in showing indecent haste in disabling out going sms/calls, when the documents were already in their custody. Only Mr Samar was like a ray of light in all these clouds of incompetence and got things sorted out with out any fuss.

I had sent my feedback on in the past (20-12-06) of my experiences at the Hutch shop at Century Bazaar when I had gone to submit my papers, I only got platitudes. I hope in future I (or any other customer) don’t have to interact with the likes of Mr Steven Ali. Incidentally I did not get the sms after interacting with him asking for my feedback J !!! At 1925 on 28th Mar 2007 some one called Apurva (from Isaac D’souza’s office - his words, not mine) spoke to my family member saying that all this happened because of a technical problem. That’s the closest they get to apologizing J
This not a technical problem but a systemic one. If a few papers don’t reach the person who should read it before authorizing disconnection of services to a customer, it is not technical but systemic. This same person called me up on 29th Mar ‘07 with the same reasons & platitudes & I explained to him exactly what I have mentioned above about systemic faults, he actually told me they give ‘at least 48 hrs before they cut a line’ to which I highlighted to him the sequence of events and the time line, (he had actually told me that he had gone thru my email v carefully) to show they were way of their schedule and were very thoughtless, arbitrary & negligent.
Whatever this guy uttered did not even stand the test of time as within 3 hours of him giving that spiel I got to hear that many Hutch subscribers have had their connection cut even though they have given their documents well in the time allotted. So whatever this ‘gentleman’ told were all lies and not only is the problem systemic, it’s also VERY widespread. Not only that my family member received NINE sms stating that they would revert back soon for the email sent to them. I suppose this is also a ‘technical problem’ or maybe even out of spite !!!!! For those of you who are frustrated by their help disk, I suggest you check out these url’s, or or & also a cc to TRAI at so that they are aware of the (QOS) Quality Of Service meted out to hapless customers. Using the toll free numbers to speak to their helpdesk ‘can be injurious to one’s health’; if you don’t have BP problems you might end up with one. This is not an exaggeration as I am suffering from severe headache for 2 days after interacting with people mentioned above :)

I hope someone will take some corrective measures to stop this customer harassment & that soon with a new name, livery, logo etc the customer will also get unbiased better quality service, or is that hoping for the impossible.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

My Experience with the Nokia 6233

Recently a family member decided to change his phone and I was requested to shortlist a few phones which had the following features

  • No flip or slider phone
  • Decent amount of internal memory
  • 2 MP camera w or w/o auto focus
  • Blue tooth
  • Cable connectivity to computer
  • A good screen with at least 65k colours
  • FM radio
  • Decent music capability
  • At least 500 phone book capacity, which allows multiple entries per contact

With these points in mind I short-listed the Sony Ericsson W810i & Nokia N72. but I thought the N72 was a bit bulky for my relative & so we went to buy the phone. But when we went to the dealer (most of our phones have been bought from this guy as he gives us a good overall deal), he suggested the new (at that time) Nokia 6233. I was not impressed, as this phone had just been introduced in the market then, he gave me many reasons why not to opt for the W810i (in spite of it being more expensive). We gave in to his pleading of ‘at least have a look at it’.

We did and the rest is now history as my relative was quite impressed but it s looks as well as its price J. Frankly I was quite nervous of, according to me ‘an unknown entity’; especially after my bro’s experience with the Nokia 6230i (another review here). I didn’t even know how much internal memory it had (more on that later). Anyway the deal was done the old Nokia 6610 went out for 2k and in came the 6233. its been a few months now so I can safely say that its been safely tested n our hands. I won’t bore you with the specs as that can be had @ their web site.

At first looks it looks very impressive as it quite slim (as compared to the N series), has a stainless frame & an overall black look (this piece). This phone is very handy in operation, especially b’coz of its keypad. The buttons in the side vertical rows stick out slightly; all keys have very soft click and great feel to it. The usual (I say this as I have owned a 5110 & 3100 in the past) four-way navigation key and the “OK” button inside it are also very easy to manage.

It uses currently S40 3rd edition operating system.

Flight Mode. This was a new feature for me & was taken in by it, The phone part can be turned off in case you are in a plane or wherever mobile phones are prohibited, imagine having the phone in the off mode and @ the same time listening to the music or radio thru the phone. Can be useful sometimes.

Calls list. Pressing the call key brings up the list of dialed numbers only. But, requires not only making, but also receiving calls. I frequently need to call back people, whose calls I’ve missed – when there are more than two of them, it’s impossible to do that without having to peek in the calls record. To access to general list, you will need to perform at least 3-4 actions, and this is pretty much inconvenient.

BlueTooth-devices searching. The handset is always searching for new devices located nearby; you can’t pick a device residing in the list of already paired ones, and thus end up by having to spend a bit more time.

Incoming messages. The display doesn’t offer the information on sender – only amount of messages (e.g you have one unread message),

Phonebook has only 500 entries to fill, but other standard for all business solutions made by Nokia was 1000 entries (like the 6230i which is an older vintage)this could be b’coz it does not have enough internal memory and firmware in spite of being a of 3G phones.

Themes. There are few themes preinstalled, they are all-standard and do not offer main menu’s icon customization, It is easy to download new themes, which are a lot more colorful and interesting than standard ones. But be warned if the themes are too big it will slow the phone down drastically to the extent u might get a white screen for a long time enough to scare u to think it has hung. Again b’coz of the piddly amount of memory. I really find this shocking as the older 6230i has 64 MB internal memory. If you want to download themes for free or share it with others check out . This site has a good collection for Nokia & Sony Ericsson phones.

Voice dialing. Tags automatically get assigned to contacts in the phonebook, without having to train before

Copy & Move files is a very primitive operation as u cannot move/copy files to sub folders.

Camera. This handset has 2mpx camera (CMOS) with 8x digital zoom is built-in, which is not much by today’s standards, but it is still pretty enough for a middle class model. But in dark conditions, exposure time increases and every movement your hand makes within that time leads to blurry image in the end. It has no flash like my K750i. There is 8x digital zoom, but there is no reason to use it as it will only ruin ur photo. You can save photos on both memory card and internal memory. I suggest u save it on the memory card which is a micro SD card. Some effects can be applied to already made photos like Greyscale, Sepia, Negative are available. There is auto-timer for self-shots. Overall, the images taken by the 6233 were of decent quality. The lack of an auto focus mechanism really made a negative impact on the image quality,

Video. Handset allows recording video in 3GP format, you can limit recording’s length, but it also can be limitless, until memory runs out (of memory card or internal memory).

Sound I was impressed by the presence of side stereo-speakers, whose grills are positioned more towards the upper end of the handset. The sound quality is awesome but (according to me) the ring tones sound good, purer, but quieter, but you will hear the phone ring (64-tone polyphonic) even in a ladies hand bag (tested) J. For music this handset is very acceptable, however it is weaker than Walkman-phones in terms of interface convenience, detailed adjustments, but in terms of sound quality it is as good, and when we’re speaking about loudspeaker mode – stereo speakers play their role in that.

Music Player is the very simple to use. It allows you to create track lists and also comes with an equalizer with five preset modes - normal, pop, rock, jazz, and classical. There is an option to personalize two sets of equalizer settings. If you want to listen to music with your own headphones, you will have to purchase the Nokia headphone adaptor, as it isn't included in the sales package. The music player is able to run in the background, enabling you to access other functions on the handset while enjoying music.

Radio The phone comes with Visual Radio player, which takes advantage of a GPRS/EDGE/WCDMA data connection to download information from participating radio stations around the world, providing the user with visual and textual information on the artist and song that is playing over the FM radio. Currently I think this facility is available with only 1 FM station. Can’t recollect which one.

SMS The SMS system works well. There is an option to access a list of recently messaged contacts, which allows fast access to commonly used recipients. This is especially useful when you only SMS a few people from a long list of contacts.

This is supposed to be a 3 G phone but its internal memory is a pathetic 6MB, which is a real shame. Considering its older avatar 6230i had 64 MB! It has a slot for a micro SD card which can take up to 1 GB (64 MB card comes with the box), I find it very difficult to get the card out due to its miniscule proportions. The 6233 claims to have video calling function. But it has only one camera. Another interesting feature I see on this phone is a list of upcoming calendar appointments, can be displayed on the standby screen. This is called Active Standby. You can personalize the active standby screen by organizing how you want it to be displayed. For example, you can set the line of icons to appear at the bottom of the screen instead of the top. A good feature of the S40's Active Standby is the ability to set shortcuts to the left and right directions of the center-pad. If you do not like the Active Standby feature, you can always turn it off in the Settings menu. With it turned off, you can press on the four different directions of the center -pad to launch different applications. The directional shortcuts can be customized to your liking, as can the left and right soft keys.

Battery life was average. The phone lasted about three days before being recharged. This was with around 30 minutes of calls each day and quite a lot of SMS messaging, taking pictures, and GPRS usage. Using Bluetooth frequently brought that duration down drastically. The phone also has support for USB 2.0 via the Pop-Port connector. This results in fast synchronization of data between phone & PC. Overall a good phone except for my previous gripe of grossly inadequate internal memory by today’s standards. Incidentally this is a common feature of many of the newly introduced Nokia models of late. Lower prices come with lower memory! Some may try to rationalize that having a memory slot with upto 1 GB capacity should be enough. True for many situations, but not if you want to say add pictures to your contacts (even video is allowed !!!) this can be stored only in the phone memory. Even having large files as themes can cause your phone to slow down or even hang. So if you want a phone with large capacity internal memory go for 6230i, the E series (eg: E50 is currently cheaper than 6233) or the N series, or look @ Sony Ericsson phones.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

CAS The real truth, a customers perspective

All of us have read so much about CAS (Conditional Access System), which has been thrust down the throats of citizens in the metros in India. The reasons for this implementation was because of

  1. Under reporting of connection thus tax evasion by the cable wallah, MSO etc,
  2. Another reason was it was ‘better technology’ whatever that means as you shall see.

Regarding the first point when we pay are dues honestly to the cable wallah, why are we being penalized for ‘under reporting’ on his part. The cost of CAS Set Top Boxes and its implementation should have been borne by the cable wallah or MSO or the govt. but no since the local citizen does not have a lobby, we lost. On the second point shouldn’t the customer have a choice what he wants, better technology or whatever?

It was my turn to ‘get it’ from 31st Dec 2006, but not unexpectedly channels went of the air on 31st Dec sometime in the morning. This clearly showed the mentality of the people involved, trying to pressurize viewers in this crude way. Thus started my travails of CAS J. I took two tv connections of Indusind Media & Communication (Mumbai) thru Rohit Vision the local franchise in Mahim Mumbai.

Knowing the quality of service of this cable wallah as I had suffered for three years with my Sify ‘Broadband’ service of which he is also provides in my area (see my Sify suffering article in this blog). I had decided to opt for DTH but I wanted it to be a coordinated effort with the rest of my building mates as I wished to go in for a community dish antenna in my building. To cut a long story short, there was a general consensus in my building, that we try CAS ‘for a few months’ then decide whether to go in for DTH. All of us missed out that a la carte selection of channels required us to pay for FOUR MONTHS at a time, as the different bouquets did not have all the required channels we were compelled to go for a la carte. A mix & match was not allowed then. It is now. ie: you can select a bouquet which is a best fit and then select those channels which are not there in bouquet. That was my first mistake that I got talked into this even in spite of my experience with the QOS (Quality Of Service) from my cable wallah. As I know his capability of handling ‘advanced technologies’ is like asking ‘Flintstones’ of comic book fame to launch a satellite. The only sign of evolution in them is that they have learnt to be polite where as before they were absolute ‘topori’.

Anyway the two STB’s were installed on the 6th of Jan 2007 and the picture quality was impressive, but the sound was mono. At this time the signals were not encrypted hence you could watch all the channels just like the old days. Around the end of Jan we gave our channels selections and the encryption of channels started & all hell broke loose. We now see Flintstones at work :)

Let me enumerate the problems faced:

Problem 1

First point I would like to make is that I have not received ANY RECEIPT YET for my cheque payments for the STB deposits or for the four-month rent for FTA or pay channels. The cheques for the deposits were collected on 7-Jan-07 for both CAN’s (Customer Account Number) & were cleared on 10 & 11 of Jan-07.

The cheques for the channel rent and STB & FTA rents for four months were collected on 28-Jan-07 & were cleared on 3 Feb-07. So there has been ample time to give customers their receipts. When I ask my cable wallah I am told that receipts have to come from Indusind Media & when I ask on the toll free number I am told very casually ‘ask your cable wallah’, is this ignorance on their part or is this part of company policy? According to TRAI advertisements in the media we should be given receipts for the payments made, so why this delay? I think the ploy here is when there no receipts issued they can fudge the dates (especially true for people who have paid in cash) of when the STB’s were installed so when they return the customers deposits they can also fudge the amount returned which is dependent on the date of installation. Clever chap’s isn’t it!

Problem 2

· When I subscribed, I was specifically told that I could choose the language for the channels, which had been dubbed in local languages. There is no sign of this till date in spite of many complaints. This is true for both CAN’s. eg. Cartoon Network sometimes comes in Tamil or Hindi ! In fact on 4-3-07 when I wanted to watch Harry Potter movie on Cartoon Network, I find the sound is in Tamil. I was told by one of the call centers guys that this is a technical problem (really!!!!) but no word on when it going to be solved as this was happening even before CAS was introduced.

· On 4-3-07 I found that for half a day HBO had gone off the air!!! But appeared again later in the day, also, I find that almost all channels tended to freeze.

Problem 3

On my second Tv

· I get a blank screen for -

NDTV 24x7,
Etv Marathi &
Zee Tv.

Even though I had selected these channels. I have made around 6 complaints to their toll free numbers and a visit to Rohit Vision, all I get is dubious reasons or promises, which have not been kept. Incidentally Indusind Media & Rohit Vision staff is oblivious to the fact that ETV Marathi is FTA in Maharashtra (Press Release No. 109/2006 dated 15-11-2006) as on 5-Feb-07.

Also the channels which are visible on this Tv is basically useless in the because the pictures freeze and you also see the indigital logo super imposed on the screen, so you can say this tv can be viewed only after 1900 hrs with less freezing.

On 4-3-07 I got a shock that except for National Geographic & Discovery ALL CHANNELS were off the air I spoke to ‘Rahul’ on the toll free number who tried some hit & miss tricks which all failed and as usual I was told that ‘my complaint will be forwarded to the right people’. He also told me that the freezing is a network problem and that this would be referred to my cable operator (passing the buck?),

But why is this happening ONLY AFTER the encryption started? Before that, things were fine and no one has any explanation why does the freezing decrease in the evenings when there should be MORE load on the network. Please note this does not seem to affect others very much in my building, who are on the same network. From my diagnosis since the freezing happens after the encryption started it means that this adds a lot of ‘overheads’ on the cable network which to put it politely, is primitive. What can you expect when it is ‘unstructured’ & runs over treetops & terrace tops. This was ok when the signals were analogue not when its digital.

Problem 4

Now the input coming from the STB goes into the video socket, what this means is that, If you have a Tv which has advanced features like

Individual volume settings for channels

Maximum volume setting for channels or

Volume settings, which take care of blaring of sound when the ads or music starts. Such features are rendered useless..

Problem 5

Also there was a lot big talk of there being

Parental Control, nothing of that sort exists

Another promise was movie on demand that too does not exist. Nor does my cable operator know what it’s all about J

Incidentally these digital STB’s being distributed are MPEG 2 technology so you can guess the vintage of this so called ‘advanced technology’.

When I have rung up their toll free number I have spoken to people by the names (as given by them) Anand, Ashok, Tahir, Sayeed Arbaaz & Rajan

Here are some of the ‘reasons’ given by them.

There is a technical problem.

Server is down.

That channel is distributed by ‘so & so company’ which is having a problem, hence your problem (passing the buck)

Sir, we will call you back in ‘FIVE MINUTES” but their five minutes never seem to get over. I am still waiting.

We will send some one to your place that has so far never materialized.

Our head office tel no. is 28248345 & 28248300 ‘Please contact them’, for the first number you get an error message!!!

O! that’s a cable problem, Please contact your cable operator

To say the least, I am utterly disappointed & disgusted by what is happening in spite of making all the payments for four months (all cheques have been encashed), I cannot view what I have paid for. I have even been told that one of the forms with the channel selection had not reached their office; I am quite shocked by the type of service meted out to paying customers, which is far removed from all the hype & gas generated in the media about CAS and its so called benefits. I am actually coming round to the opinion that I made a BIG MISTAKE in being prompt in my payments. I feel totally cheated. I had written to Sanjay Kamat who I was told is chief of customer care with Indusind Media & Communication (Mumbai)( ) on 5-2-07 and again on 12-2-07 but to no avail. BTW I get the read receipt from these people but no courtesy of a reply much less solving the problem.

On 16-3-07 I did some troubleshooting & found the cause for some of my problems but everything is still not what it should be. I have now decided to go in for a DTH connection from Tata Sky very soon. Incidentally I am still waiting for my receipts for the payments made.

On 21-3-07 I am pleasantly surprised to find that the channels I have opted for are clearly visible (lets see for how long), that means all those amateurish excuses made all these days were all lies, delaying tactics or plain ignorance. This goes to prove that the source of the problem was outside my house (probably changed some main cables or installed/replaced more powerful repeaters).

Others in my colony tell me that some of their payments have still not been collected; another case where a person asked only for ‘ZEE Tv’ gets all channels even though she has not opted for them. Another person who has disconnected one connection of CAS has been told ‘The set top box is now yours, keep it’ even though the person has taken it on rent. No word of returning the deposit. Also no one I meet in my colony seems to have got their receipts for the payments made. I guess the mind set of the people involved became very clear to the citizens in the CAS areas when the channels went of the air on 31st Dec 2006 in the morning itself, instead of midnight. This crude stunt was only to get people to go in for the STB’s. For people who seemed in an indecent haste to implement CAS, this company seems to be having an inordinately long ‘teething problems’. With all this happening I feel that this introduction of CAS was hurried thru when the infrastructure was not in place nor is any one interested in providing genuine service, it looks more like the intention was only to unload the STB’s on the hapless citizens, which was in their inventory. In spite of pious proclamation made in the media to the contrary. Frankly any business model, which has the cable operator in the supply chain, is doomed to failure or immense dissatisfaction for the customer (read my reviews on Sify & Tata Indicom broadband). CAS is ALL GAS.

All I can say to people who will be unfortunate to be in areas, which will go in for CAS, in future, is opt for other technology platforms eg DTH. IPTV. They too have their drawbacks & you could also have bad experiences with their service providers too but there is competition on those platforms only problems is that on DTH platforms there is no portability in their STB’s (as of now) this is something that TRAI should deal with right now before it inconveniences more people.