I’ve seen it all, from slow, archaic, 14.4Kbps dial-up connections (that took a minimum of 15-20 attempts to connect and used to amaze me if stayed connected for anything more than 15-20 mins without dropping the line), Overpriced under-performing broadband connections, to High-speed, state-of-the-art Leased line connections in glitzy cyber-cafes. Until now, we were promised, shown dreams and fed peanuts, as far as broadband internet access for Home users is concerned.

Then came DataOne.

I chanced upon ads in a few newspapers, when this service was launched. Further reading revealed that it would be an ADSL connection. I quickly applied for a BSNL phone line, since I was using only a Tata Indicom WLL phone at that time. The phone line was installed, simultaneously; I applied for a DataOne connection, and then the wait for it began. Sure enough, all good things in life take their own sweet time to arrive and this was not an exception. They finally arrived after a month’s time and installed the DSL connection in less than an hour.

Now for the technicalities:

This is basically an ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscribers Line) connection; Where the Download speed is several times higher than the Upload speeds. BSNL folks install a small device called ’splitter’ that filters and separates phone and internet signals, so that the two can function simultaneously.

This connection does not require the user to dial-in to connect, it is ALWAYS ON. I opted for outright purchase of the DSL modem that is charged at Rs 2000. You would require a Network Card installed in your computer. That is ok, since most recent PC’s feature one built-in, or quick trip to the computer store should get you a fairly decent network card for Rs 300-350. The DSL modem I received is a ’Huawei SmartX MT880’. It is a DSL modem + router. It receives a Public dynamic IP address from the service provider and allocates a private I.P address to my computer; No PPPoE software is required to be installed in the PC. However, the router functionality can be disabled, if required.

Data throughput and performance, more or less meets those claimed by BSNL. I had opted for the 256Kbps plan at Rs 500 monthly rental. My connection averages 240-260 Kbps. It feels like driving on a highway, compared to city road that my old connection was. Sustained Download speeds average 25-27K. Until June 30 2005, there is no limit on data download and upload, after which the standard extra rates would come into play.

DSL technology has its limitations and one such limitation is distance. 18,000 feet (5,460 meters), any further than that from BSNL’s exchange/service location, and availability is doubtful. In addition, BSNL’s quality of customer/technical support is doubtful.

Overall, I am quite satisfied with the performance of DataOne and recommend it to anyone looking for an upgrade from lesser forms of internet access.