Mar 21, 2012

I heard of Qubee a little before they setup a widely* available service or a proper consumer website through a friend who had been hired by them, and another one whose sister was in charge of finding people for testing out the services they were just installing at the time.

That is when I first came across the motto, a grand statement on a temporary website of Augere Holdings, the investors behind QUBEE: 
' ... a mission to provide "broadband for all" and seeks to bring broadband Internet services to underserved communities worldwide' (Though that website doesn't exist anymore, it is available on the Wikipedia page for Qubee and Augere).
I have been a customer since 2009, and today, I happened to see that they were in the news - "Augere's Ahuja, 7 others sued"! Seems like their local shareholder (30%) Teleport Bangladesh is the accuser. I am sure that'll get sorted out, but what I would like to get sorted out for the benefit of my knowledge is their mission statement above.

Who do they mean, when they say "underserved communities"? According to Wikipedia, this is their reach in terms of where they are doing business:
Augere has so far launched broadband internet services in Pakistan in July 2009 and in Bangladesh in October 2009 under the brand name Qubee. Augere is also expecting to launch services in Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and India in 2011 and is continuing to pursue spectrum across Africa, Asia and South East Asia.
So, am I the "underserved"? I think I could be if we put a spin on that phrase (which I see is usually used in relation to healthcare services). The spin is quite simple. Recently I had a run in with their support team (badly for the 1st time in 3 years to their credit) with what I perceived as something wrong with their tracking of my usage. It came to my notice since last February was the first time was the first time I was found in violation of their FUP or Fair Usage Policy ~ use till a 30GB limit, at which point they shut down the internet unless I pay them a month's worth of fees (do double payment for a single month). I tried to get their support team to register my concerns with their technical team, but was refused flatly on the logic that the traffic that was generated was from my MAC ID - so it could've only been from my house. I would even accept that point if I were to assume that their modems usually send over requests and receive responses even if my computer is turned off!

Khaotic however did manage to get a technical person to go to his house and witness such a phenomenon first-hand. With every kind of software turned off - like Windows Updates, anti-virus updates, other software updates, and keeping the processes and tasks in view, the tracker showed a download of 40MB.  The tech support person couldn't offer any explanation for that, but someone from the support team followed up the next day with some accusations first - "your windows was updating", and "your anti-virus was updating" and a few others, and then, secondly with a suggestion:"Re-install your operating system". It feels like the support team right there is having some fun with these complaints - rather than escalating the issue or getting to the bottom of it.

Meanwhile, I have heard good things so far about the government run BCUBE** and it seems like they have better prices for their services too. If there were an 'underserved community', wouldn't they want to go with the more economic offerings?

* Qubee is in Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet now, whereas their WiMax competitor Banglalion has also gone there and beyond to Rajshahi, Khulna, Rangpur, Barishal.
** The website is not good looking in compliance with the rest of the government websites, I guess.

Posted on Wednesday, March 21, 2012

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Mar 11, 2012

Having just driven between Uttara and Dhanmondi at night (the significance, being the night traffic was heavier than during the day), it was full of speeding, crazed, maniacal drivers, one in a rush of higher proportion than the next. They flicker their lights from the back, which in turn reflect inside my car, and also reflect back into my eyes, which I find highly irritating. However, that has become a code for most drivers in this city for "move out of my way". I, often, in an outraged state give them passage and once behind them try to take revenge by flickering my lights onto them. My car is a pretty old one (pre '90s model) and actually doesn't have lights as powerful as most cars out there (post 2000 models).

What is their rush? I often want to block there way, bring them to a halt, and ask them just that! Is there a heart attack patient you are trying to save? Or kill faster? A pregnant woman?

There is again an editorial in the paper titled "Fake Licenses". Having gone through the test and gotten a license, I don't see how having an authentic license really addresses this problem! I enrolled at a driving school for a 24 day program, and went for the first 5. I was really impressed with my instructor, who emphasized on the rules of the road - keeping to my side of the lane, not wavering onto the others, taking turns while maintaining my side, slowing down before taking turns, etc. One might read these and think - "Basics!". These basics are what is missing on the road these days. When I told a colleague about the instructions I got, he claimed that his instructor was not that expressive of the rules. The point of these courses mostly are to learn how to handle the machine. To know that a brake is a brake and the accelerator your pathway to beat everyone to the prize (whatever that is).

These crazy drivers are most lethal, when they are in control of a monstrous bus. Remember the police fixed the lanes for buses. What I saw come out of that most, is a chance to fine a lot of privately owned normal vehicles whereas the buses did what they always did. They pushed and shoved and went ahead of everyone. The worst case scenario of a traffic accident is death I suppose, and they stop short of that most of the time. And the driver's window is usually big enough for them to jump out and run away. I find most BRTC buses to be quite alright though, just the private buses who have bodies that show they don't care if they hit anyone, including other buses. Sometimes they jovially race down the roads and poke each other, unmindful of the world around them. The drivers can't even see the left side of his vehicle, and the assistant shouts out to him if theres a car or anything else. They have faulty lights and its upto one's imagination how they got the permit to be on the roads.
I am glad at least one picture of their glorious feats
reached us today through Prothom Alo.

Posted on Sunday, March 11, 2012

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