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Why Indians don’t hack WiFi networks anymore

Well, so here I am with a shitty random thought. I may be talking bullshit here but still I wanted to share this. Why Indians do not need to hack wifi networks anymore?

Before coming to the topic, I want all of you to imagine yourself an hacker. And you are going to pwn a wifi network. But wait, why would you hack a wifi network? There must be a few reasons. Let’s list them first.

Why would you hack a wifi network?

wifi hack

I am thinking of the following possibilities:

  • To get free internet access: This may be the motive behind most of ours innocent hacking. Data is not free, so one may steal. Well, not cool, but let it be.
  • To own a network: Well, this is no child stuff. You want to get access to a network, run a scan, deploy multiple exploits and own the network. Let’s stop here, it’s big player’s game. But it is definitely a reason.
  • Curiosity: Curiosity makes people to hack. The curiosity may be to convince yourself that you can hack something in real. Or it can be a curiosity to snoop into other people’s stuff by performing a man in the middle. Maybe to stalk someone?
  • Time pass: Script kiddies says Hi!

Well, let’s forget about script kiddies, unethical hackers and big players. As a common man, my intention to hack a wifi network would be basically targeted upon the first point, necessity of data. According to Gizmodo, in 2016, the price of 500 MB mobile data in US is around $80. If I were in USA, I would eat 16 big mac burgers from McD for that price. In India, I would rather have 60 plates of Thalassery Biriyani.

Thalassery biriyani
Image Credits: http://www.recipesaresimple.com/thalassery-beef-biriyani-malabar-biriyani/

Would you hack if data was affordable?

Would you? As said, if my intention was availability of data, then nop. If I feel data is affordable I would pay for it rather than stealing. This is the same reason Indian’s don’t want to hack wifi networks anymore. According to business insider, India is one among the countries who offers the cheapest mobile 4G data. Would you believe, in India we enjoy unlimited 4G data (capped 1.5 GB at full speed and rest at reduced speed) for just $2.19 a month. Which is roughly the price of a Thalassery Biriyani and half less than half the price of a McD big mac.

Country Carrier GB Currency Local Price Local:USD Monthly Cost Cost/GB Data costs vs India % of income
India Jio 42 INR 149 68.14 $2.19 $0.05 1.0 1.44%
Israel Golan Telcom 30 shekel 29 3.62 $8.01 $0.27 5.1 0.26%
Egypt Egyptian Telecom 25 EGP 200 17.85 $11.20 $0.45 8.6 4.47%
Iran RighTel 24 Rial 550000 42566 $12.92 $0.54 10.3 2.87%
Algeria ooredoo 30 RA 2000 117.39 $17.04 $0.57 10.9 2.60%
Morocco Maroc Telecom 25 MAD 382 9.53 $40.08 $1.60 30.8 16.80%
Iraq korek 40 IQD 90000 1187.5 $75.79 $1.89 36.4 18.50%
South Africa CellC 30 Rand 899 13.65 $65.86 $2.20 42.2 14.55%
Saudi Arabia STC 24 SAR 200 3.75 $53.33 $2.22 42.7 3.19%
USA ATT 22 USD 55 1 $55.00 $2.50 48.0 1.13%
Libya almadar 10 LYD 80 1.36 $58.82 $5.88 113.0 11.03%
UAE etisalat 20 AED 450 3.67 $122.62 $6.13 117.8 3.76%

Source: From the web (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1jB8U7uvo4eIPNE1Vv2dIX6hVVtcpLb3Zj4V4-IQz3oM)

Some history

India, being a poor country (a developing country to be more precise) took few more years than the developed countries to completely popularize 3G followed by 4G. I remember my graduation time. During 2010-11, even though 3G was deployed in India by the end of 2008, the infrastructure was so poor that only urban areas were accessible and that too at very high cost. My network provider wasn’t 3G compatible and I was downloading torrent files at 30 KBPS. It took me weeks or even months to download a movie. It took around an hour to download a 10MB song. YouTube streaming was a hefty job. I always set my streaming quality to 240p or even low if available.

Those days 1GB data cost was ranging between 100 and 250 INR among various operators that too with certain usage limitations. That is roughly 2-4 USD. For the same amount Indian now enjoy unlimited voice calls, data and text messages(data and messages comes with capping but nearly unlimited considering the day to day usage practice). These times can be considered as the golden era of telecom operators in India. BSNL was the first to implement 3G followed by Airtel, Vodafone, Idea and Tata Docomo. There were other operators who were still resistant to come up with 3G such as Reliance, Uninor,Aircel and Virgin Mobile,MTS.

 

Rise of the beast

Apart from the data pack if you need voice, additional voice calling packs needed to be activated. When WhatsApp calling became popular people started to shift from normal voice calls to WhatsApp calls. This forced mobile operators to increase data prices further so that people would again start preferring voice calls. Tl;dr this was the time when telecom operators were looting the customers.

indian telecom operators wifi wst

 

mukesh ambani wst
Mukesh Ambani  Credits: wikimedia.org

During the time Mukesh Ambani, elder brother of Anil Ambani(who was managing Reliance telecom after the death of their father Dhirubhai Ambani), started testing 4G LTE services in India by the name Jio on 27 December 2015. This was the beginning of a revolution. Jio offered free sim cards with unlimited data for those who participate in their beta testing program. LTE enabled handsets were not so popular in India by this time. Jio made use of the situation, manufactured their own LTE enabled handsets in the brand name Lyf and coupled it with sim cards. So during the initial phase, one has to buy the combo to get a free sim card.

The phone price was so cheap that it started pricing around 2500 INR ($35) for the base model. Considering the free data at the speed of 4G, this was nothing. In the label of testing Jio was grabbing the market share slowly.

Washing out the rivals

The company commercially launched its services on 5 September 2016. According to Wikipedia, within the first month, Jio announced that it had acquired 16 million subscribers. This is the fastest ramp-up by any mobile network operator anywhere in the world. Jio crossed 50 million subscriber mark in 83 days since its launch, subsequently crossing 100 million subscribers on 22 February 2017. By October 2017 it had about 130 million subscribers. During this massive journey major telecom companies like Uninor,Virgin Mobile, MTS, etc were completely washed out which includes Reliance Telecom owned by Anil Ambani. Tata Docomo and Aircel are on the verge of extinction.

Idea and Vodafone later merged together for survival. Only Bharti Airtel was survived as its own since it had the major share in telecom industry before Jio blasted. This is reflected in the share market as well. You can verify it by looking at the stock charts of these companies after 2015.

Along with the sim cards Jio offered free hotspots in most of the cities throughout India. They have now launched Jio Giga Fiber, a high speed Broadband internet offering by making use of Fiber optics. Rumors are there that Jio is stepping towards DTH service also. Whatever be the story is, data became cheap, really really cheap. So the question is, why would I steal when I have free data?

Post Script

Almost an year later the launch of Jio, on November 8, 2018 at 8 PM, prime minister of India Narendra Modi announced demonetization, to fight against black money, making all the currencies of ₹500 and ₹1000 invalid. There are allegations spreading around the country that Big players like Reliance knew about demonetization way before the public announcement. So that they have tactically sourced  all the unsourced fund. There is a major speculation that Ambani used this opportunity to build up the dream project Jio. The demonetization was later criticized as Tughlaq model since 99.3% of the total currencies were returned back to the Reserve Bank of India (who issues and manages currency in India)

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