10/09/2009

Tata Photon Plus: Misleading at the speed of photon

I have been trying out the TATA Photon+ for the last three weeks and needless to say the whole experience has been super frustrating. I thought I should share my experience and review so that others become aware of what they are getting into and maybe benefit from this post. My two biggest sour points with the TATA Photon+ service are:

First, the Tata photon ads are completely misleading (unless you read it very carefully). Yeah sure, any donkey can claim they will provide you internet "upto 3.1 Mbps or 20 times faster". I was skeptical of this gimmick right from the start and had even asked the store manager at their Vashi office if they guarantee any minimum speed. He was quite frank and said no but added the minimum is between 0.5 and 1 Mbps. For some reason, I really wasn't expecting Tata to play this game. In my three weeks of Photon+, I have NEVER ever got download speeds above 0.5 Mbps. And even worse and more annoying is the upload speed. Most of the time it is a pathetic 0.02 Mbps. And between 9pm and midnight, I have never got anything more than 0.01 Mbps. There is no way you can even gtalk at such speed, leave alone conference calls. And no, I am not in some remote village in India. I reside in Nerul, Navi Mumbai just blocks from the MTNL telephone office.

My next issue with them is their customer service. It's bad, I mean real bad. They had (and still have as of writing this article) a promotion where you get 10GB or 2 months if you buy the Photon+ usb modem. I paid in full cash for the modem without any dues. Within two weeks, one fine morning when I was about to go online for my business related work, I realize my photon service has been disconnected! Their reasoning was that I had crossed my credit limit and hence was disconnected. To top it, there was no apology of any sort. I wasn't mentioned about this whole credit limit when I bought it from their store in Vashi. And they were expecting me to dream up that this is a standard procedure. Their response was "Its a standard procedure every new customer has to go through." In any case, it was the Tatas who promised me 10GB or 2 months. Someone messed up internally and didn't make sure my line wasn't supposed to be disconnected. So there you go. After losing a days worth of work, two trips to Tata Indicom store (one in Nerul, one in Vashi), three phone calls to their customer service number and 24hrs later, Tata finally did a huge favor to me by reinstating my Photon+ service. Such is their flattering generosity.

To sum it up: If you expect giants like Tata to act honestly, you are wrong. They are as capable of swindling your money and taking you for a ride as a local crook. How about Tata guarantee say a minimum speed, even if its just 256 kbps or 512 kbps, instead of boasting an unrealistic "upto speeds"? And if the Tatas really want to play this gimmick, why stop at 3.1 Mbps, make it "upto 3.1 Gbps or 20000 times faster". They both are equally fair statements if your committal to provide such speeds is abysmal. If you don't have the infrastructure and resources and cannot provide at least 256 kbps minimum (which is the current TRAI definition of broadband), just don't bother troubling us with "unto 3.1 Mbbs" advertisement crap? If Tata cannot guarantee a minimum speed, how about giving customers a 2 week trial period with full or partial money refund if he/she finds out the speed not unto their expectations?

Hopefully, this will make others aware of the situation and give them a better sense of what they are getting into. Overall I would give 1 out of 5 stars for Photon+ and is definitely not worth the money they are asking for. It's a piece of crap. Stay as far away from it and maybe even consider doing a special Yajna to ward off any evil spirits associated with it.

PS: I think part of the reason Tata gets away with this level of crappy service is because the TRAI definition of broadband connectivity is purely based on download speed without any mention of upload speed. I hope the babus at TRAI consider this in their next update to broadband definition.

PPS: I finally gave in and opted for MTNL triband and am happy with the connection speed so far. I get the promised 1Mbps download speed and 0.2 Mbps upload which is about 20% off from the promised 0.25 Mbps upload. Other than the connection speed, I must admit it isn't pleasant dealing with MTNL. The babus at MTNL behave and talk as though they are doing a favor by providing us internet connection. It took whole 8 days and constant reminders to get a line. I hope its worth the wait.