Thursday, July 13, 2006

HAM Bailed City Out Of Mobile Mess

Mumbai Hams

NO JAM WITH HAM: HAM radio operators dug out walkie talkies and came to the city's help.

Mumbai: Did you notice that your cellphone is not working when you need it the most.

When Mumbai was attacked on 7/11, cellphone connections failed but there was an alternative that Mumbaikars turned to - the Ham radios.

As the news of serial blasts across Mumbai trickled in on July 11, the first reaction was to reach for the cellphone and ring up the loved ones.

But with 85 lakh cellphones fighting for a small patch of bandwidth, networks crashed.

"If the base station's capacity is less, even the network is probably under-provided for. It is better therefore to try and send SMSes to avoid putting any pressure on the network," says Secretary of Bombay Telephone Users' Association, Achintya Mukherji .

Had the mobile phones worked in those crucial hours, maybe precious lives could have been saved and precious time could have been saved.

If SMS was used instead of callling, six times more contacts would have been made and networks would have stayed up.

Also it would have bee easier to reach outstation numbers. So maybe that uncle in Bangalore could have passed on the message to mom in Bandra.

But with mobile phones on the blink, it was the turn of a new set of people to 'Help All Mankind'.

HAM radio operators dug out their walkie talkies and came to the help of the city.

"I love Mumbai. We consider it a moral duty to sign on to the AIR when disaster strikes. In fact, we carry our hand-helds and rush to the nearest spot of crisis," said Zyros Zend, a Ham radio enthusiast.

Radio fans not only passed on news across the world to near and dear ones, they also helped agencies like the BMC to pick up information across the entire city.

While mobile operators keep promising updated infrastructure with increasing consumer traffic, what every Mumbaikar can do is thank the good samiratan, that lone Ham operator who makes sure the right information reaches the right person when it is needed the most.

by George Koshy
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