June 2016: PC Net browsing via BSNL Mobile – Charges & Setup

This post is essentially a log of my exploration of using my Nokia E-52 phone’s BSNL Mobile Internet service, to do Internet browsing from my PC. It is primarily meant for my own reading and so I have not focused on readability for others. But perhaps the info. may be useful for some others too (and so I put it up on this blog).

I am now on BSNL Nestham plan.

BSNL Nestham plan Data rates

From http://www.apbsnl.info/2011/03/3g-nestham.html : Data Usage Charges : Rs0.02/10KB [Must be Kilobits, so Kb and not KB i.e. Kilo Bytes]

Ravi: So that makes it Rs. 2 for 1 Mb.

Ravi: Browsing via Nokia Suite on PC shows the MB download figure. As Desktop browsing (as compared to browsing on E-52 mobile) takes up larger data, a short load of gmail and then Facebook on Chrome, took up over 1 Mb data.

Given the rate of Rs. 2/- for 1 Mb data download, it is important to explore STV (Special Tariff Vouchers) which give a more reasonable rate.

Some entries from http://www.apbsnl.info/p/special-tariff-vouchers.html:

Uniform 2G&3G Data plans:

STV Free Data Validity Days SMS keyword to ‘123’
4         20MB                1                    STV DATA4   (ends at 11:59pm, on same day)
17       110 MB              1                    STV DATA17
28       150 MB             3                    STV DATA28
39       200 MB            5                     STV DATA39
56        250MB           27                    STV DATA56
— end short extract—-

Ravi: Note that there are many other options too. The above seem to the ones most appropriate for short term usage as a backup when landline Broadband fails.

To enable a particular STV one has to send an SMS to 123 with the appropriate keyword as given above.

Prior to STV DATA4 SMS to 123

Bal. 282.7566

I sent STV DATA4 SMS to 123, and got acknowldegement messages as follows:
1) Data STV activated. If unable to access data, send SMS “START” to 1925.
2) Subscription of STV 20 MB for 1 Day @Rs3.4800 is successful

After Bal. 279.2766. But no other message in balance status indicating that STV4 is active!
To be on the safer side I sent SMS “START” to 1925.
I got an acknolwedgement message: Your request for GPRS activation is received. Pl wait for confirmation message – BSNLMOBILE.

Did not receive any additional confirmation message over the next few minutes. [Update: As noted later in this document, I got a message after a lot of time that it has got activated. But I think it is a useless message. SMS “START” to 1925 is not needed in my case.]

So decided to try connecting to Internet via Nokia phone E-52 (connected to PC via USB using Nokia Suite option) and via Nokia Suite software. The home tab of Nokia Suite software provides a “Connect to BSNL South with E52” option (once the E-52 is connected; the first time I had to choose India as the country and BSNL South as the provider in India). Note that I have switched off the BSNL landline modem.

Connected successfully to BSNL South. If I recall correctly it showed the speed as 460 Kbps. One concern I have is whether other apps besides the browser will start using the Internet connection (I don’t want that to happen typically). One way to check that is to not start the browser initially and confirm that while the connected time count goes up (now it is 02:33) but the data figure is 0.0 MB.

I checked out my gmail a/c in Chrome. Saw two short messages. Responded to one. Then closed the Chrome tab (and so app as there was only one tab open). The data figure shows 1.5 MB (and is frozen there after Chrome was closed). Connected time is 06:10

Open Chrome again and loaded Facebook. Scrolled down though my wall for a little. The data figure jumped to 3.3 MB in no time! Connected time is 08:23.

Disconnected.

Got a message on phone (Nokia E-52): Your last call of 3 Mb 307 Kb 530 bytes was charged from DATASTV4. Remaining Balance 16 Mb 716 Kb 494 bytes. Your Main account balance: Rs. 279.277

Ravi: So that’s pretty good reporting. The data usage did not impact my main account balance and impacted only the STV’s balance! Superb.

Let me see if BSNL user account on web provides me a log of these messages. As they are not SMS messages I guess they disappear from the phone once one chooses Exit. To check this out I switched on the BSNL landline modem (and did not use BSNL Mobile Internet).

Browsed to http://selfcare.sdc.bsnl.co.in/selfcare/start.swe. This was not appropriate website as it is meant for Landline Broadband.

Could not find any selfcare link for BSNL mobile Internet usage history.

Instead came across this mechanism to get last five calls history:
Dial *124#
Then follow menu commands (by sending suitable option as another SMS).

From this I got the details of my earlier to STV4 BSNL mobile Internet call. But the message stays on for limited time and then disappears! So I had to retry and hastily capture the details as below:
Call type= GPRS 117 secs 5.37 INR called on 1/6/2016 Call time15:05 , call volume = 1.7454 MB (or was it shown as Mb?)
— end details —

1.7454 * 1024 makes it 1787.2896 Kb.

10 Kb costs Rs. 0.02/- (2 paisa) for Nestham plan without STV. So the above should be around Rs. 3.57/- Perhaps I got the above Rs. 5.37 figure wrong in my haste.

Without STV Nestham plan costs around Rs. 2/- per Mb
With STV4 per Mb cost is Rs. 0.20 (20 paisa) with limit of 20 Mb and time validity till midnight same day
With STV17 per Mb cost is Rs. 0.1545 (15/16 paisa) with limit of 110 Mb and time validity of 1 day (perhaps 24 hours since it is started).
With STV28 per Mb cost is Rs. 0.1867 (18/19 paisa) with limit of 150 Mb and time validity of 3 days
With STV56 per Mb cost is Rs. 0.224 (22/23 paisa) with limit of 250 Mb and time validity of 27 days

….
BTW I just got the message (at 5.19 PM on 1st June 2016) that my request to activate data services is carried out successfully! I guess that is a useless message as it was already active earlier.

I then setup Nokia Suite on the DELL Inspiron 11 mini-laptop and used it to connect to the Internet. Now I found that even if I closed Chrome browser window the download count was ticking away. Perhaps some software is doing an auto download of its updates. The software to check would be McAfee Anti Virus and Windows download. So in two sessions as I was figuring this out, around 14 Mb got used up pretty fast even though I did very limited browsing Google News, one News linked site and Radio Sai. All of it was taken from STV4 (so no extra charge) leaving 2 Mb balance in the STV4 option that I had chosen.

Just checked that Windows Automatic Update is off. That leaves McAfee Anti-virus (and perhaps Adobe reader/flash player download). Saw from Control Panel tht Flash player settings were Notify me to install updates.

Somehow I think the Windows 8 (or is it 8.1) OS on the Dell mini-laptop will have something or the other that will do auto download. I think it will not be possible to block all such auto downloads. So some auto download cost will have to be factored in when using mobile phone Internet via Dell mini-laptop to do Internet browsing.

Connected to the Internet directly using the E-52 phone Internet connection (connected using “bsnlnet” option on E-52 phone). Used Facebook application for maybe a minute or so. That used up around 181 Kb from the same DATA STV4 option leaving 1 Mb 849 Kb balance in it. Interestingly I also got an SMS: “Reminder 2: Your remaining data volume is 1Mb 849Kb 71bytes.”

Connected to PC and used Internet from E-52 (turned off BSNL Landline broadband). Wanted to exhaust 1.8 to 1.9 Mb. Did so with some browsing. But that browsing took it to somewhere around 2.5 Mb. Then disconnected.

The message on E-52 phone was, “Your last call of 1 Mb 849 Kb 71 bytes was charged from DATASTV4. Remaining balance 0bytes. You Main Account Balance: Rs. 276.517”

Got 5 last call details using *124# and then 8

GPRS 2.46 INR 229 sec 2.6219MB

GPRS 0.00 INR 131 sec 181.441KB

Earlier 2 calls in the list had INR 0.00 like the above reflecting GPRS calls that got adjusted against DATA STV4

The fifth call was a voice call.

The Rs. 2.46 charge seems to fit in with the remaining balance of Rs. 276.517 though I don’t recall exactly whether the earlier balance was around 278.97. However the data usage shown seems to be the total of both the amount adjusted against DATA STV4 and the spillover which was charged. So the spillover would be 2.6219 Mb less 1 Mb 849 Kb 71 bytes i.e. 1.6219 Mb – 849 Kb 71 bytes i.e. around (1.6219 * 1024)Kb – 849 Kb i.e. 1660.8256 Kb – 849 Kb = 811.8256 Kb i.e. around 812 Kb.

812 Kb seems to have got charged Rs. 2.46/- That seems to be higher than the listed 0.02 Rs for 10 Kb. It should have been 81.2 * 0.02 = 1.624!!! But it is not worth digging deeper into the matter. It is clear that browsing using BSNL Nestham Mobile Internet MUST BE DONE using a DATA STV. Short spillover beyond the limit of the DATA STV may be getting overcharged by BSNL. But if the spillover is around 1 Mb we are talking of extra charge of a Rupee or so beyond the stated charge of Rs 2/- for around 1 Mb. That is simply not worth spending more calculation time.

!!!The rule to remember is that spillover beyond DATA STV should not cross 1 Mb!!!

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