TheGuide Story

VSNL launched Internet services in August 1995. Initially there were no support services available to VSNL customers. I therefore started extending phone support and also email support for VSNL customers. An idea emerged that I should write a book, which will address difficulties faced by users of VSNL Internet. Appreciating the fact that such a document would greatly enhance VSNL’s image, VSNL offered to publish it as their User’s Guide. To every new account, VSNL distributed this Guide. This was the beginning of “User Guide for Gateway Internet Access Services

Feeling that VSNL users needed continuing help, I started in 1997 a help website which came to be known as TheGuide. To this day it is responding to the user’s queries. The originalversion of TheGuide was hosted by VSNL http://guide.vsnl.net.in, however presently it can be viewed at http://guide2net.net.

TheGuide now as a website, assisted users by providing email support, tutorials on the site, a bulletin board, (which encouraged self-help by users), among many other means. Between 1996-2000, VSNL itself had no facilities to assist its users in any effective way. I therefore took the initiative in building a virtual community of volunteers that worked under my guidance to resolve user difficulties. Please also note that TheGuide volunteers responded to email queries within 6-8 hrs. During its peak period when Internet access was beginning to spread, TheGuide website received between 100-250 support request messages a day. Later on, the numbers reduced because a query, which was repeated, was posted on the website for ready reference.

TheGuide’s support services were widely acclaimed by Internet users, with unforgettable gratitude. It brought freely accessible help to VSNL customers and the Internet community in India, when most needed. Users were new to the Internet, and welcomed the ongoing support that helped them cope with changes and advances during this evolutionary period. A booklet containing a sample lot of messages, expressing this sentiment, is enclosed. I would estimate that TheGuide volunteers must have responded to tens of thousands of users to their full satisfaction.

A little known fact about "TheGuide" is that it has truly been a result of cooperative efforts by dedicated and highly knowledgeable specialists from around the world (which includes Mr. Bruce Gingery an expert in Network Security, Privacy and spam; Mr. Peter Doshi and expert in web development and programming; Mr. Varun Suri—an employee of Microsoft India customer support who receives $25 /per email query he replies to for Microsoft, Mr. Sawan Ruparel an expert in web development; to name a few). At one time there were 14 active volunteers who helped the Internet users of India. TheGuide managed to create a virtual community of volunteers who continue to help people without any expectations.

Indeed, I consider myself fortunate to have got such an opportunity from VSNL. It enabled me to successfully implement my vision for such a unique global voluntary collaboration. TheGuide remains a service in Internet development that has been truly unique, not only in India but perhaps globally as well.

In India, “TheGuide” prides in being the first ever virtual-PR effort that has facilitated the Internet infrastructure and has established unparalleled goodwill for VSNL as a Service Provider. A leading edge advantage that VSNL still enjoys today, by hosting “TheGuide”.

I do have definite plans to extend these services by encompassing additional and advanced features that will cope with the ever demanding needs of Internet users, and my request to VSNL for supporting this endeavour with adequate means and resources, continues to be pending.

“TheGuide" is now poised for growth, to educate and support VSNL users in more advanced topics which are the needs of the day; such as awareness about privacy violations on the NET and their risk exposures, Internet security, crisis recovery from security infringements, advance warning systems and the like.

"TheGuide" has always played its role of providing supportive and complementary services to VSNL's business and will continue to do so. The new vision of TheGuide will present new opportunities for VSNL to once again embark upon a unique leadership role.

Enter the Users' Guide

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