Free wi-fi in Chennai, GMR Hyderabad airports? Plain hogwash!

Is there free wi-fi internet at the Chennai and GMR Hyderabad airports? The media reported breathlessly the claims of politicians about free wi-fi internet services at airports in the past, but the reality is that those services have all but stopped. And there are no media reports about that. Perhaps your experience has been different from mine, but that doesn’t help me or anyone else either.

I was recently in both airports, and found that in Chennai, the BSNL wi-fi service is so weak that there is no point trying to use it – there is no data transfer happening. My new Asus netbook, incidentally, is equipped for the 802.11 n standard, which means 300 megabits per second.

In Hyderabad, the GMR notice strategically positioned outside a Tata Indicom kiosk says one can use wi-fi internet free for 45 minutes, with the option to pay Tata for continued access thereafter. When you try to log onto the free service, you are asked to fill up a form on the Tata Indicom page, and you get a username and password. Try using that and the message on your screen simply says “wrong username or password,” repeatedly. According to the facility, you are an idiot that cannot read the username and password on your mobile phone.

You start thinking there is a pattern when you look at the strength of the wi-fi connectivity at Chennai. Very weak to nil connectivity, with one small bar for BSNL. Presto! The Tata service, however, is running on full charge, all five bars. “Very Good” says your laptop. Only, you need to open your pursue and buy credits from Tata or use a Tata phone number.

We know that the neo-liberal icons who run our Government at the Centre and the equally corrupt State governments have thrown consumers to the corporate wolves, who have no qualms about making false claims, generating inflated bills, providing pathetic service, hiding behind anonymous call centre employees, and generally acting with impunity. Very conveniently, there is no complaints forum for such issues in a country that is always talking of GDP growth, billions received in FDI, and how India has bucked the global economic trend.

Do we need a soft-spoken Oxbridge Prime Minister, a complicit Planning Commission and other assorted mandarins to appear to run this country as a rule and law-based society, even notionally? Why not hand it over to the mafia in toto?

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