Another Broadband Internet scam – Burstable Speeds

A few days back, I wrote about how vendors are tricking customers with the “unlimited broadband” packages. Unfortunately there’s another broadband scam happening. Have you noticed?

Broadband vendors claim speeds of 256 kbps, 512 kbps or even more. However the customer never gets speeds anywhere close to this mark. You file a complaint and the vendor claims that the speed claimed is “burstable” speed. He then explains that burstable speed is the max ever possible for your connection. So even if your connection touches that mark once in one month, the vendor would say that he has fulfilled his commitment.

I doubt if that “burstable” speed is reached even once a month. You would normally get max speeds of about 1/2 to 2/3 rd of the speed claimed by the vendor. 

TRAI, the regulatory body for broadband services in India, has stated that only speeds above 256 kbps can be claimed as broadband. Unfortunately it does not state the speed below which the speed should not drop.

If I have bought a connection for 512kbps and the vendor at anytime drops the speed below 400kbps, it should be a failure of service and the consumer need not pay. When you buy milk, we do not accept it if the milkman only delivers pure milk once a month and mixes 1 or two portions of water on all the other days.

It’s true that it is a tough thing to regulate the broadband vendors. The vendors will also never declare true stats on their own. But it will at least be a weapon in the hands of the consumers. As things stand today, broadband vendors claim 512 kbps, rarely deliver even half that speed and still get away with it.

Thinking of it, I have tried VSNL (Tata Indicom), Sify, Reliance and Iqara and none of these providers ever touched the burstable marks they claim.

Privatisation is good, healthy competition even better. But remove the regulator and the companies will gang up and take the customer for a ride. In case of mobile and broadband technology, there is a regulator (TRAI) but as happens so often with technology, the bureaucrats and govt officials don’t quite understand technology and mess up the rules and the law.