|Net Bits - Connecting to the Internet|
Using the Internet the world over can be fraught with obstacles. A dial-up account with a major international provider can give you access in most countries if you:
1. Have access to a phone line
2. Have the correct telephone plug adaptor
3. Can get your modem to understand the tones of the country you are in
One of the easiest ways of coping with dial-up problems is not to dial-up. In most of Asia there are plenty of cheap public access Internet shops and cafes (although they rarely serve coffee). The more friendly sometimes let you plug in to their hub if they have one, otherwise bring a floppy.
One of the countries that is a particularly hit or miss affair is India. There are no POPs for any international ISPs. No AOL, no AT&T, no IBM, no Compuserve, no MSN, no nothing. The is one national ISP - VSNL (virtual snail I named it) and the whole of India's internet community is dialed up to it. ISDN is extremely rare (and too expensive) and leased lines are practically unheard of (I only ever encountered one 64Kbps line). There are a couple of smaller providers offering dial-up access but they lease their bandwidth from VSNL so it amounts to the same thing.
So here's the story for India, you go into your average Internet shop
and someone dials up to one of VSNL's few access numbers, on the forth
attempt (usually) they login and launch a browser. Practically everyone
uses hotmail so this is inevitably set as a home page. We found a good
webmail site that can retrieve POP mail from just about every UK provider
(www.twigger.co.uk), very handy. You're then left to yourself and the
clock starts counting…