Thursday, June 4, 2009

MTNL saga: the 'engineer' arrives

After a month and a half of harangues, a man was sent to fix my broadband connection. Mr.Mishra arrived at noon, and the conversation with him went so:
Girish clicks on the Firefox icon, gets a page saying no connection could be established.

Girish: As you can see, the connection isn't working. It comes on for five or ten minutes at a time at most.

Mishra seats himself at the machine and switches the mouse pad to the right side (I am not a lefty, but changed mouse position after suffering carpal tunnel pain a couple of years ago from too much online Scrabble). He removes a brand new router from its pack. It is Huawei's MT882 model.

Girish: Actually I have bought myself a new wireless router, I want to to fix that so I can connect from a laptop in another room.

Mishra: Let me first try with this modem to check if the problem is with the line or the router.

Girish: It is definitely with the line, since my mother, who also has an MTNL broadband connection, has been suffering the same problem for exactly the same duration.

Mishra pays no attention. He connects the MT882 and starts checking things like settings and pings. After ten minutes of this he gets up and seems ready to leave. I open the browser window; it still will not connect.

Girish: It isn't working.

Mishra: My job is only to set up the connection, this must be a line problem, I can't check it from here.

Girish: Earlier, when this green tick mark was on, I could browse the Net. Now it isn't opening any sites even though Skype's green tick is showing. Obviously you've messed something up.

Mishra: How could I mess anything up? I did nothing, didn't change any settings.

Girish: You changed the router.

Mishra: this is a new router. Your problem is with your line.

Girish: So who can fix the line?

Mishra: Talk to Kore or Rangale.

Girish: I've been talking to them for over a month. Why have they not checked the line so far?

Mishra: I don't know. Ask them.

Girish: I'll ask them right now... (dials) can I speak to Kore saheb?

Kore comes on the line: Shahane saheb, what is the problem?

Girish: Mishra is here, he changed the router, but that fixed nothing. In fact, earlier my connection worked in spurts, now it isn't working at all. Why did he change the router when it clearly is not a router problem?

Kore: You have a D-Link router, right? D-Link routers are getting corrupted.

Girish: Corrupted? Mine's worked fine for two years. Why should it get corrupted suddenly? Also, did my mother's modem happen to get corrupted at the same time?

Kore (exasperated): I have received an order from above saying all D-Link routers are to be changed, they are corrupt. I'm just following orders.

Girish (to himself): Is it D-Link's routers that are corrupt or MTNL officers? I wonder how much they can skim with these MT882 thingies?

Girish (to Kore): Anyway, this new router clearly doesn't work, I'd like my wireless modem to be connected instead of the MT882.

Kore: Mishra can do that, but then we will not take responsibility for your connection working.

Girish: So will you take responsibility if I keep the MT882?

Kore: How can I give any guarantee?

Girish slams the phone down in disgust.

Girish (to Mishra): OK, I want you to undo what you have done.

Mishra: But I didn't do anything.

Girish: Put my old router back. At least I know it worked off and on.

Mishra reluctantly does as told. Girish connects the ADSL wire. His home page opens properly. Mishra looks mystified.

Girish: I think what you did was to replace a perfectly good router with a broken one. Thanks a bunch. Please take your MT882 and leave.
(To himself) Back to square one. But square one is better than square zero.


Pankaj said...

Incredible as it may sound, we did have an incident recently where the firmware of our D-Link router was "corrupted" (this is possible, because the firmware resides in a Flash memory which is rewritable, and not in a ROM like the old days). The D-Link service centre admitted as much. They tried reprogramming the router but were unable to do so, and ended up replacing the main board.

This of course does not excuse the MTNL staff for their lack of knowledge, work ethic and sense of customer service!

bluespriite said...

I too MTNL Broadband.. I should be worried if they are going to replace D-Link routers! But hope it sorts itself soon.

Girish Shahane said...

Thanks for that info, Pankaj, wish the MTNL experts had been half as articulate or knowledgable. And thanks for the good wishes, blue.

Pankaj said...

Another point Girish. My home connection is also a Dataone Broadband (Dataone is BSNL's brand here in Hyderabad) and I use a MT882 on it. This is a Hua Wei product I think. I have been using it for 4 years and it has not given any problem. In fact both in office (where also we have Dataone and use a D-Link router) and at home, the Dataone connections have been generally very good and very reliable. The firmware of the MT882 hasn't been corrupted (yet) (though it could, because it also has a Flash memory), but then it is used much lesser than the office router.

My general experience of the Dataone connection is that it is reliable and delivers mostly as promised. However it is a royal pain to get proper response if you do have a problem with it.

One more bit of advice. Do some D-I-Y stuff and, if possible, try to trace the telephone line on which the broadband connection is provided, at least up to the MTNL junction box. Try to find out if the wire is loosely jointed somewhere en route, or is loosely connected at the junction box. While voice connections may work fine, such joints can substantially degrade high speed ADSL data connections. Since you keep getting intermittent connections the problem may be data errors caused by loose joints.

All the best

Girish Shahane said...

I looked up the MT882 too, and found there was nothing wrong with the product. Amazing that a brand new one wouldn't work, never seen that before.
I'm doubtful about my ability to check the joints on phone wires, but I'll try and get an MTNL lineman to do that check. Thanks again.

jaimit said...

hahahahaha.... you sure have a whole bunch of sweet guys helping you with your connection issues. I was too busy rolling on the floor, laughing at your misery. hahaha... imagine talking logic to MTNL! now go and buy some bharati shares instead!

parotechnics said...

aha - so i wonder if that's why D-link wireless router isn't working properly!It works in spurts and when I connect to the MTNL router directly, the connection's fine...

DS said...

Like Jaimit, I have to say I was grinning too. This is exactly the sort of harassment I've been thro with EVERY dept of the BMC, BEST, MTNL and Storm water drain guys these last three months. So was kinda glad the suffering was now being shared......sorry. :)