Friday, February 16, 2007

Tip to enable faster surfing on broadband connections

Most of the DNS servers associated with our ISPs are congested and slow these days. They provide replies to domain queries real slow, which in turn slows down the whole surfing experience.

When you try to connect to a server on the internet, lets say via your browser, the following things take place:

  1. You enter in the address bar of your browser and presses ENTER.
  2. The browser asks for the IP address of to the Operating System (OS).
  3. The underlying operating system, say Windows, not having the translated IP of the requested domain, prepares and sends a DNS request to your ISP's DNS server with the name and waits for the response.
  4. The domain name server on the ISP's part looks up in its tables and provides the translated IP back to us. If the domain name translation is not found in its table, the DNS server forwards the request to another higher level one.
  5. Once received the IP translation for, the operating system caches it for future uses on the same day, and fulfils the request of the browser.
  6. The browser now has the IP to connect to, and it connects and fetches the page.

The delay in DNS resolution occurs in step 4. If the ISP's DNS server is congested with requests, it could either delay the resolution process or even discard the request. The operating system would try a few more times before giving up. Also, if the domain name is not found in your ISP's DNS table, you're likely to get a domain not found message.

The solution to this problem is easy. Use a better DNS server pair -- OpenDNS is the answer! Try these instead of your ISP's DNS servers. You can change it either in the TCP/IP properties of your ethernet card, or inside your router control panel.

Primary DNS Server:
Secondary DNS Server:

If you dont know what these numbers mean or if you need help setting these up, try the following links.

For Windows users, click here
For Linux/Unix users, click here.
Finally, for Mac, which you're unlikely to be on (I've never seen a Mac accessing this blog site, yet!), click here.

If you would like to setup your router, goto this page, select your router and follow the instructions.

Mobile users can also use it to get faster DNS responses; click here to goto mobile section.

Technical facts

These DNS servers belong to a project namely OpenDNS. Safer, Faster and Smarter. You can visit them at

Quoting from their site,

OpenDNS is a better DNS, free to all. OpenDNS uses its distributed network of DNS servers to speed up your Internet experience, increase reliability, improve security and make DNS smarter for users all over the world.

OpenDNS has the following addon advantages, over traditional DNS.
  • Its free and it requires no software installation or complicated setup.
  • It warns you before accessing malicious websites, phishing and scams.
  • Its faster than similar services. First, it runs a really big, smart cache. Second, it runs a high-performance network which is geographically distributed (see network map) and serviced by several redundant connections. It responds to your query from the nearest location.
  • It fixes typos in the URLs you enter. For example, if you're using craigslist.og will lead directly to

Saturday, January 20, 2007

BSNL traffic crawls through Bharti Infotel gateway

Ironically, BSNL's DataOne broadband internet connections are crawling like dial up connections ever since they announced the revised, high speed plans for the new year. Customers like me are getting frustrated with this miserable speed of 30-70kbps instead of the promised 2mbps, or atleast the good old 256kbps.

Please BSNL, I'm ready to forget everything you ever told about the new 2mbps dream. Just get me the damn 256kbps broadband back!

Strange but here it is, the output of running a traceroute to from my BSNL DataOne connection.

Tracing route to []
over a maximum of 30 hops:

1 <1 ms <1 ms <1 ms
2 38 ms 43 ms 41 ms
3 95 ms 85 ms 84 ms
4 84 ms 84 ms 84 ms
5 81 ms 84 ms 82 ms
6 85 ms 84 ms 85 ms
7 117 ms 116 ms 125 ms
8 116 ms 125 ms 112 ms
9 113 ms 115 ms 125 ms
10 391 ms 384 ms * POS2-2.GW12.NYC4.ALTER.NET []
11 387 ms 398 ms 386 ms []
12 * 383 ms 385 ms []
13 392 ms 403 ms 392 ms []
14 419 ms 394 ms 400 ms []
15 402 ms 398 ms 403 ms []
16 404 ms 400 ms 398 ms []
17 * 379 ms * []
18 383 ms 384 ms 386 ms
19 384 ms 385 ms 385 ms
20 385 ms 384 ms 387 ms
21 386 ms 392 ms 390 ms []

Trace complete.

The first 6 IPs seem to be okay, its BSNL gates from 2 to 6 and my router on 1. But, the items in boldface, i.e., routers 7, 8 and 9. Do they really belong to BSNL?

I ran a query on APNIC Whois Database ( with the addresses, and

They're of Bharti Infotel Ltd. ( BSNL is tied up with Bharti? I don't remember what the traceroute output was before BSNL's revision announcement and slowdown, but is this a failsafe plan BSNL has taken to keep the network running? Is this what really causing the slowdown?

A week of battle with customer care and telecom staff at my exchange, I find BSNL's customer service stupid and moronic. For 34 hours in last two days my connection was down due to a damned 'PPP authentication failure', good heavens its now vanished somehow. Yet they don't have any, any ANY, explanation for all this. Lack of an alternate ISP in my local area is what keeps me clinging on to this DataOne now.

Friday, December 29, 2006

BSNL broadband is now 64kbps!

Since yesterday morning, BSNL broadband seems to be experiencing some technical failure. A large number of BSNL broadband users are now experiencing poor speeds of only 64kbps on average, instead of 256kbps. The connected bandwidth is 256, but if the speed received is checked by downloading some file or using some online speed test, it is evident that the received bandwidth is only 64kbps or less. Rarely the speed varies between 64 and 128kbps, but not going anywhere near 256kbps.

A screenshot of a speed test taken from on Dec 29, 2006 15:20 +0530 is posted below. You can notice the download speed is only 46kbps instead of the usual 250-270kbps values.

BSNL has announced an increase in its broadband speed from 256kbps to 2mbps this January 1st onwards, after having declared 2007 as the broadband year. Perhaps the reduced speed is due to technical upgrades or tests being conducted now, or is caused by a congesion in the network due to the damaged international submarine cables that transported the internet data across Asia. If latter the case, BSNL may have difficulty in providing 2mbps speed according to its plans.

Related articles can be read here:

It seems that BSNL is still unaware of the situation and haven't confirmed anything like it yet. The news flash column on the home page of BSNL's site,, still mentions about the pre-paid tariffs and online payment discounts. Wondering if that column ever displays useful and important news.

Well, its not quite a thing to wonder about for a company that performs beta testing on the live server with a million users online. The DataOne account administration site promotes today the use of Microsoft Windows operating system, Internet Explorer browser and Chinese language packs by insisting the use of it! The site also seems to offer a lot of un-necessary and meaningless menu items and speed tests, which of course doesn't work at all!

Screenshot below shows the present day page of DataOne Account Administration site (, with two 'undocumented' offers, sachin and testcat01 respectively ;)


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

BSNL Broadband 2mbps Review and Comparison

Seems like the long discussions about the upcoming 2mbps internet connections are coming to an end. Here is a review of the revised plans and tariff details with effect from 1st Jan 2007.

Home plans

Home 250 - the startup plan

The bandwidth of the original 250 startup plan was set at 256kbps maximum, where the revised plan can provide a bandwidth between 256kbps and 2mbps.

Monthly charges remain the same, Rs. 250 per month with a discounted annual payment option of 2500. The download/upload limit has been raised from 400MB to 1GB. Additional usage charges have also been revised, from Rs. 1.40 to 90 paise. Night unlimited feature is still not provided with this plan.

Home 500 plan

Bandwidth has been revised to give anything in between 256kbps and 2mbps, compared to the old 256kbps maximum. Monthly charges remain the same at Rs. 500, with the download/upload limit raised to 2.5 times, i.e., 2.5GB instead of 1GB. The additional usage charges have been reduced to 80 paise from Rs. 1.20.

A big advantage of this plan is that you get the 'Night unlimited' feature, which allows unrestricted download/upload at 2mbps (possibly), from 2.00 am to 8.00 am. Theoretically, you can download approximately 900MB of data in an hour with this connection, totalling to 5.4GB per day only in the unlimited hours. This exceeds the limits and abilities of BSNL's Home 900 unlimited users, who can download only 2.7GB of data even if they download 24 hours a day! But, a word of caution, continuing the downloads at this rate past an hour after 8 o' clock in the morning would empty 40% of your monthly quota. Three days of the same mistake, and you're in the additional usage plan at 80 paisa per month. So use carefully, every rose has its thorn!

Home 900 Unlimited and Unlimited Plus

Too bad, but they haven't changed a darn thing about this plan. Home 900 plan's revised bandwidth was the most active topic in most forums in India for the past one week, since the newspapers declared the major bandwidth revision on 1st Jan 2007.

Please take a look at the conclusion part if you are quite confused in deciding between Home 500 and 900 plans.

Home 1000

Bandwidth is rated as 384kbps-2mbps, with the download/upload limits increased to 5GB instead of the old 2GB limit. Additonal usage charges have been reduced from 1 rupee to 80 paise. Night unlimited plan continues to accompany this plan.

Home 1800

Bandwidth goes anywhere between 512kbps and 2mbps, with download/upload limits doubled the previous values, i.e., from 5GB to 10GB. The additional usage rate is further reduced from 80 paise to 70 paise.

Home 3300

Home 3300, it seems like BSNL considers this as the luxury plan for the home user. Previous bandwidth was 1mbps minimum, whereas now it has been doubled to 2mbps minimum. This is the only plan in the series with a claimable 2mbps bandwidth. Monthly payment rates have not yet been changed, where the download/upload limits have been doubled from 10 to 20GB. The additional charges have been reduced like the Home 1800 plan, from 80 paise to 70 paise.

Business plans

Business 700

Bandwidth is now 256kbps to 2mbps instead of previous 256kbps. The plan still stays at the singe user mode and the download/upload limit has been doubled, from 2GB to 4GB. The additional rates have been reduced from Rs. 1.20 to 80 paise. No static IP provided yet, and no domain name or web hosting space.

Business 1200

Business 1200 has its bandwidth same as Business 700, and the only things changed here are the download/upload limit as well as the additional usage rates. 4GB limit has been doubled to 8GB, and additional usage rates reduced from 1 rupee to 80 paise. No static IP yet, and no domain name.

Business 3000

512kbps-2mbps, instead of old 512kbps maximum. This multi user plan has double the download/upload limits than before, 20GB instead of 10GB. Reduced additional charges are 50 paise, instead of 80. No static IP yet.

Business 5000

Bandwidth ranges from 1mbps to 2mbps, instead of the 1mbps maximum. The multi user plan features a 5MB web hosting package with one static IP and one domain name, both on demand. The download/upload limit has increased by 15GB, from 20GB to 35GB. Reduced additional rates are 50 paise instead of 60.

Business 9000

The golden business plan, or the ultimatum in BSNL's business plan series, the 9000 plan has absolutely no change in its bandwidth -- perhaps because it was already rated at 2mbps and the backbone is able to provide a maximum of only 2mbps bandwidth at the moment. However, the download/upload limits have been raised by a whopping 35GB, i.e., from 40GB to 75GB. The additional usage rates are also reduced, from 60 paise to 50 paise.


There's nothing much to mention about the business plans of BSNL, because they all are too limited for business purposes. BSNL should have provided at least a single unlimited business plan with this revolutionary broadband year 2007 revision.

Regarding home plans, normal users with nominal internet usages such as checking mail, chatting and voice conferencing will have a great time this year. A blazing 2mbps would be more than ample bandwidth for high quality voice and video conferencing. As the limits have been increased to moderately good ones, users have to worry less about crossing the barriers.

For heavy downloaders and P2P users, BSNL has not made any changes to the unlimited plan. Good god, at least they haven't discontinued the unlimited plan yet! However, this leaves downloaders with two choices mainly. They have the same Home 900 plan on one side, which can download 2.7GB data per day, if downloaded 24 hours a day at 256kbps, with absolutely no limits whatsoever for Rs. 900 a month. On the other side they have the Home 500 plan with its limits, yet able to download 5.4GB per day, downloading only at night from 2AM to 8AM, without touching the quotas. Home 500 has 2mbps speed throughout the day, and a limit of 5GB download/upload per month.

It is utter confusion when it comes to decide between these two plans, though I would still recommend the unlimited Home 900 plan only, because for the simple fact that you don't have to stay up till 2AM in the morning to browse the web! And its hard to stay up to Skype your loved ones, or wake your family up at 2AM to say hello on the webcam. I would always go for the Home 900 unlimited plan, considering the lazy next day and stomach problems I could have due to BSNL's night unlimited offer!

Well, here are some things to note, in addition.
  • BSNL mentions only about the downstream speed, i.e., the speed with which the data arrives at your PC from the internet. 256kbps bandwidth means a downstream bandwidth of 256kbps; BSNL seems to forget, or purposefully forgets to mention the upload speeds. The upload speed plays an important role in voice and video conferencing, considering the simple fact that the data has to be transferred both ways at the same speed for effective communication. 256kbps bandwidth in downstream gives you high quality voice from the remote end, but what about your voice? Your upload speed matters.
  • BSNL gives only 25% of the advertised bandwidth as the upload speed. Say you have a 256kbps Home 900 unlimited connection, your upstream bandwidth is 256/4 = 64kbps. Did you ever know that? Now the new 2mbps connection, as for the ratio, must be giving only 512kbps upload speed.
  • Revised plans have their bandwidth stated as 'wherever techically feasible', and mostly as a range between 256kbps and 2mbps, instead of the expected 2mbps minimum. This may not account to a minimum bandwidth of 2mbps, as they have still specified 2mbps minimum bandwidth for Home 3300 plan.
  • It is always good to take the modem on rental, as the equipment will remain as a property of BSNL and would get replaced faster in case of any complaint, repair or warranty claims. Also, if you plan to switch over to a different ISP, you don't have to worry about selling the router.
  • BSNL do not provide ADSL user names and passwords for the unlimited customers, and fortunately or unfortunately they do not have a reason for it either! However, numerous utilities like adslpwd and some shell scripts posted on various forums help to retrieve it.
  • One of the most astonishing things about BSNL plans, and something that stays the same thoroughout all plan specifications, even in business plans, is the free email that comes with any plan. Nowadays when most email providers do provide gigabytes of mail storage, noteably GMail that provides around 2.7GB of inbox, BSNL provides a way too small inbox of just 5 megabytes. Most digital cameras today, with megapixel ratings from 5 to 8, take up more than 4MB to store a single picture. Send one to a BSNL inbox and you might get it bounced back!
  • If possible, take a router with more than one ethernet port, i.e., BSNL's Type III or Type IV modems. An extra ethernet port would be useful if you want to connect an extra PC or a laptop at a later time. Also, for the single user business connections, you can have the ethernet port of the modem connected to a LAN switch, along with other PC connected to the switch to make it multi user and share internet access the easiest way!

Thats all for now, this is my first post and a comment would be appreciated! Enjoy a faster and happier new year.