If you are thinking to get any work done online while you are in Leh, you can basically forget about it. You’ll just have to kick back and enjoy Ladakh, which is not altogether a bad thing as it’s a wonderful place. It’s definitely good to unplug sometimes.

Most of the time the internet is down, and when it is actually working, speeds tend to be 1G or 2G, which is pitiful. You can sometimes spend an hour trying to send two or three emails. I can’t recall ever seeing it worse except after the flash flood of 2010, which took the whole infrastructure down, although I have been told it was down for several months last winter. I heard that some people actually went all the way to Delhi to do their online work. I do think it’s way past time for the government to get their act together on this. I believe that much of the problem is that Ladakh is stuck being part of Jammu & Kashmir state and the Kashmiris, who really don’t care about Ladakh, are the ones in charge of everything.

Airtel is supposedly going to bring in 4G internet access this summer (or maybe next), but I’ll believe it when I see it. For now BSNL is really the only show in town. You can get a BSNL sim card with a data plan, but it doesn’t work most places and tends to be excruciatingly slow. I just saw an ad that Tatanet is offering a VSAT that is supposedly fast and uninterrupted, but it doesn’t seem to be available yet or everyone would be using it. Whatever VSAT there has been until now is so slow, unreliable and extraordinarily expensive that almost no one uses it.

Internet access is problematic everywhere in the Himalayas, but I put up with it as there’s nowhere I’d rather be. Incidentally, I love using beautiful photos in my blog, but it’s virtually impossible to upload them with the internet as it is. Getting the bandwidth to do plain text posts is challenging enough. I’ve been trying for quite a few days just to post this.


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