I have been using two ISPs for my home since 2019. Generally I use PCC load balancing on Mikrotik. I used to use Alliance Broadband and Srishti Sanchar Broadband as my ISPs since last two years. If you are using internet for your livelihood the you too must get two ISPs for failover. Being a non enterprise user getting two different ISPs is the best way to have redundancy. As I rule of thumb we must take two different ISPs from two different local cable operators to ensure failure in the last mile doesn’t affect both the links as many local cable operators provide multiple ISPs. However, sometimes the very local cable operator who is supposed to maintain the last mile becomes the cause of disruption mostly due to buying cheap and poor network hardware. I was the victim of the same. Since Alliance Broadband was my primary link and my server as well as IPv6 tunnels all were dependent on the static IP provided by them, any failure in the primary link would result in accessing my self hosted services from outside my house. Due to poor quality OLT of my local cable operator the connection would be disrupted multiple times in a day. So as my year long renewal had come to end I decided to switch to an ISP without any middle man for the last mile.
My first preference was Airtel broadband but it was not feasible in my area. Jio had recently completed the roll out but since they didn’t provide any static IP and did all sorts of grey area stuff so it was completely out of question. One of my senior office colleague had taken BSNL FTTH as his secondary connection and has shared positive review with me. Since BSNL had recently done away with the franchise revenue sharing model for my area, it was the best option to go with. I had called my telephone exchange (Panihati) to ask for a new FTTH connection. To my surprise there was such a change in attitude. They immediately shared me the contact of their Sub Divisional Engineer. On calling him he had arranged a visit for feasibility of the connection.
Since I had a BSNL BTS just beside my home, he said that the connectivity would not be a problem. He said that the fiber would be spliced from one of the fiber cores of the ring fiber of the BTS. He also assured me that since the laying and maintenance of the fiber was under public private partnership model fiber cuts would be rectified quickly. On top of that since the fiber cable delivering my connection was a part of the BTS ring so any fault would be on top priority for rectification. Also I didn’t need to visit the exchange even once. The connectivity was provisioned in less than 24 hours of calling the telephone exchange. However, due to miscommunication from the private vendor’s end I was not able to get online for another day. He couldn’t tell me that they were using GEPON and I couldn’t get my GPON ONT registered on their network.
Lighting fast provisioning- This could be a debatable topic since I had got my connection provisioned within 24 hours.
No dealing with arrogant local cable operators- Though the fiber maintenance is under private vendor, he is still under the Junior Engineer of the exchange. Even for the slightest problem the Junior Engineer is informed about he ensures proper follow up is done and the issue is resolved.
Public IP on router interface (can be used with DDNS)- Since I am using it with Mikrotik cloud DDNS I can use it with my tunnels and it gets updated every minute. PING, RDP everything works except default winbox port.
Consistent speeds- Even with speed tests conducted on California servers I got plan speeds at least for downloads.
Low latency towards Singapore.
BSNL as we know is a PSU. So as expected any routing related issue is likely to take significant effort and running after to be done to get it resolved. Fortunately, Anurag Bhatia had shared with me a contact of an SDE who looks after core routing. When I had an issue with routing between BSNL and my office server, it was resolved within 18 mins of informing the person. My employer and BSNL are peered over DEC-IX, Mumbai LAN. However, when my BSNL connection was assigned with 59.xx.xx.xx series IP, traffic towards my office server IPs were routed via TCL America leading to extremely high latency of 300ms+ compared to optimal latency of 32-33ms. For any technical issues that doesn’t involve access layer people it is very difficult to get it resolved. The exchange people have no idea about how things work. All they can do is test on two Ookala speedtest servers from other ISPs and say that your connection is okay. If you force them for an escalation they will at max arrange for a callback from Telephone Bhawan (which in my case, I had never received the call). Due to airtel broadband advertisements on Ookla speed test page, BSNL top “engineers” decided to stop BSNL’s own speed test servers. Maybe they are too “advanced” to understand that those adds are served via cookies. This is just one of the dumb decisions taken by them. Only way to get higher level technical issues resolved is via PG Portal.
Who should get a BSNL FTTH?
Anyone who doesn’t like dealing with unprofessional local cable operators.
Enthusiasts/students who do not want to pay for Live IP.
Needs Airtel Upstream for low latency to Singapore.
With fiber entry plan it is a excellent and cost effective way to have a backup connection for those working from home.
How is the uptime?
As of writing this article, I have used the connection for 4 months, till now I had a fiber cut twice. Once it was for 4 hours and the next time it was for 15 hours (as the cut was at 11:30 pm on a Saturday Night). This is a lot better than the daily issues I used to face from my cable operator’s end.