Tuesday, March 26, 2013

[In Review] PTCL Broadband

PTCL is Pakistan's biggest provider of data services. Their broadband reach spans the complete country and they are an indomitable force in ISPs with over 1 million subscribers nationwide. Despite this, they come under fire numerous times due to their lackluster customer services and rickety infrastructure.

Installation was a hassle. I had to wait for nearly 1.5 week before the installation guy came and that too after tons of phone calls to the customer service representative. Apparently, there is zero coordination between the organization - every-time I called them they said a man was on the way.

Quality Metrics:

The speed of my connection is fairly good for a PTCL connection. Then again this might be due to the fiber availability in my area and my connection's proximity to ONU (gray boxes on the roadside with a PTCL logo on them). I normally get around 490 kbps+ for direct download and 98 kbps+ for upload. Top speeds in torrents remain the same, however they are prone to inexplicable drops but recover soon afterwards. You might need some tweaking to get to those speeds because an unoptimized P2P connection won't take you beyond 250 kbps. If you haven't forwarded a port for your torrent client then it is even worse - you will get abysmal download speeds (less than 15kbps) but superlative upload speeds (greater than or close to 100 kbps). On the other hand, the ping remains pretty excellent at between 30-50 ms within the country. (There was no good PingTest server close to my location.)

I used to experience a lot of downtime with PTCL. The connection sometimes suddenly goes down without any
A PTCL customer should
get used to this symbol.
 reason. I found that most of these connection drops are related to PTCL's shitty and sluggish DNS servers. Changing my default DNS servers to OpenDNS ( & fixed almost all downtime problems but still every now and then I get a "No Internet Access" logo.

Device quality:
I have the standard-issue FiberHome AN 1020-25 modem-cum-router. The device is pretty good and its WiFi signal strength is quite awesome. The coverage are is greater than my TP-Link WR740N router which impressed me.

Customer service:
PTCL's customer service is very shoddy. It seems like their is no coherence among the different levels of the organization and in general it feels like they care little about us customers. Complaints aren't resolved until you go down to your respective exchange or utilize the influence of some higher authority. Unlike Wateen, their selfcare portal is more like a framework than something functional. It has never worked for me however I have read that it was functional for some period in 2011. With the new transfer caps in effect, there is no way to check your bandwidth usage apart from calling 1236. Two years and they still can't fix a damn portal - speaks volume about PTCL's commitment to customer satisfaction.
The PTCL portal is as rudimentary as portals get. No stats or data except for account info are accessible.

PTCL's unlimited packages from 1 mbps to 8 mbps are not unlimited in the true sense of the word. A 300 GB download+upload limit is applicable on all such connections. Exceeding this limit will incur a penalty of Rs. 5000. This fair usage limit is justifiable for low bandwidth connections like 1-2 mbps but slapping this on high-speed internet beyond 4 mbps is unwarranted. The PTCL people should at least increment it with the increasing download speed.

The Bottom Line:
PTCL's speeds vary across the consumer spectrum plus their customer service isn't all that great. So, I would recommend that before getting rid of your previous connection do a test run of PTCL. Your experience in the first week will tell you how they will shape-up for you. If you are acquiring broadband for the first time then it is advisable to ask around your neighborhood about PTCL's standard of service in your area.
All in all, PTCL will turn out great for a few but worst for many. It is, however, fairly good for me. I know many would disagree but I am giving them 4/5.

[Ramblings] The Tree

There is a tree, right in front of the window of my bedroom. To many its just another average tree but to me its much more than that. It is tall and its incredibly slender, khaki branches are laden with beautiful, jadeite leaves. Such frailty of its boughs allows it to sway in the lightest of breezes. During windy days, its leaves rustle with a rhythm that is uncannily similar to that of a beating heart. It is as if it has suddenly awoken from its sedate, statuesque slumber and adopted a life of its own - a life that is brimming with the need of announcing its spirit, its vitality to the outside world.

The tree seems even livelier when the moon is in its full splendor; rays of moonlight seep through its gloomy fa├žade, giving it an otherworldly ambiance. It glows bright and as it focuses the light through the mesh of my window and into my room, I feel as if I have a companion in a dreary and desolate night. I cherish this. I cherish this tree's companionship. I know a more personalized name is long overdue but I don’t want it to be like some ordinary pet, I want it to remain an extraordinary tree.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

[Elections 2013] Why I support PTI?

Since October 2011, after the historic Lahore jalsa, PTI has become a force to reckon with in the Colosseum of Pakistani politics. Some people say that it's popularity is hugely owed to the charismatic personality of its leader, Imran Khan; and that it doesn't possess enough quality candidates to win seats during elections. Others say it is just a pawn of the establishment - created to tip the voting scales. Still others maintain that as seen in the past, PTI is big on jalsas and zero on electoral performance. I say PTI is for real. I say this isn't the PTI of the past that fed on the fame of its leader but the PTI of the present that is fueled by the fervor of the young, the fervor of people like me who have had enough with status-quo parties that have leeched the very blood out of our nation.

It was rain against IK today and rain was loosing.
People still ask me, including my own father who is a long time PML-N supporter, that why do you support something that was never meant to succeed. Something that is full of empty promises with no capacity to deliver. I will be honest; I was tempted by these insinuations but I stood determined. I looked at the landmark jalsas of the party and I knew I wasn't alone. I wasn't alone in this fight against corruption, against feudalism, against slavery and against the plundering of my nation's wealth.

My belief in PTI was reaffirmed after languishing for a bit, when I saw Imran Khan today in another superlative jalsa at Manto Park, Lahore. Where under the shadow of Minar-e-Pakistan, amidst torrential showers and strong gusts of wind he remained steadfast. He didn't run off and hide in a container. He didn't stand under the shelter of an umbrella. He didn't duck behind the security of a sheet of bullet-proof glass. He didn't flinch. This episode metaphorically narrates the journey of PTI. People told IK that politics isn't a game of cricket, his party could never succeed in it but IK knew that success was around the corner, so he persevered, weathered hardships and slip-ups and carried on. His unwavering spirit was rewarded when PTI became one of the most popular political party in the country and in this journey he showed this nation what the definition of a true leader is.

Now I come to the crux of this article: why I support PTI?

  • I support PTI because it is the only mainstream party in the nation that is against the archaic concepts of status-quo and family politics. These two things have eaten away at the political setup of Pakistan. The right people have never been given the chance to run the nation but rather ignorant, dynastic politics has flourished.
  • It is the only political party that has held intra-party elections from ground zero right up to the pinnacle. And in doing so it has set a precedent that has been unheard of in the history of Pakistani politics. Widows, teachers, tailors, shopkeepers and wood-loggers swept away important post and PTI became the party-of-the-people in the true sense of the word. Through this PTI has also purged itself of lottas and opportunists like Sikander Boson, Jamal Leghari etc.
  • I support PTI because it took the initiative of declaring the assets of all of its top brass. Effectively, telling people that the members of PTI have no reason to be secretive because they are not looters or plunderers.
  • I support PTI because I am attracted to its manifesto. The party's educational, health, energy, environmental and economic policies are beyond reproach and designed by some of the finest minds in the nation. I believe if PTI implements its policies in the true sense of the word then the Naya Pakistan it so talks about isn't that far off.
  • I support PTI because it shifted the focus to the people. While other political parties are involved in their own cat-fighting and mud-slinging. PTI took up the crusade for the rights of a common-man. In doing so, it has made an ordinary citizen more perceptive of the political scenario of the country and hopefully more circumspect in using his/her vote.
If jalsa strength is anything to go by then PTI has already won the general elections.

The above-mentioned points are the main reasons of my support for PTI. PTI has called out to the youth of Pakistan and the genie is now out of the bottle. I hope this genie grants PTI the government because it has got every capacity to do so. Additionally, to all those who think PTI's slogan of change is an illusion, I say we shall see because once the ravaged youth of this country have stood up there is no stopping them. The tsunami is coming to take with it the rotten, narcissistic scoundrels that call themselves legislators and the old, shitty system. Hopefully, a new sun will rise on May 12th. A sun that will not scorch the nation but bring with itself rays of blissful sunshine and the message of hope.