Before I start anything, here is a rant dedicated to MTNL broadband:

Translation: “Love is just defamed for its name, instead Slow Internet is the one behind real pain!


Ha! Enough of jokes. Well, if you are living in Delhi or Mumbai for past decade or so, 90% of you will understand the hidden pain in my tweet above. MTNL is the slowest ISP of all times but since we people didn’t have any other good ISP, most of us are struck with it. I currently have a 1mbps (unlimited) line at my home which was upgraded from 512kbps, which was upgraded from 256kbps and so on, as per TRAI regulations for minimum qualifying speeds for “broadband”! Never once, I have seen any sane good plan from MTNL broadband BUT it just worked, until they decided to inject JavaScript ads in the browser which is super creepy IMHO. We recently saw ruckus on Reddit over Airtel trying to do the same thing, which compelled me to write this post despite me getting a new superfast internet connection.

Wait, what ADS?!

Well yes, I am sure if you use MTNL you must have noticed these ad popups recently coming from bottom right side of the browser window (from past few months now). Initially I thought they are coming due to some malware or something but later I found out that MTNL is injecting these ads and these are not served by any website. They are super intrusive and scary as they once popup in mid of an online transaction which pissed me off. So let’s understand what happening here!

How and Why MTNL?

MTNL is using Adphonso, which is a rich media ad company and directly connected with ISPs, like MTNL to inject ads. Adphonso describes its services as:

The stunning new technique of advertising on the connected devices, delivers Rich Media Advertisements to potential customer through networks. The solution reads the Machine Details, Browser and OS information and Customer Behaviour along with location and delivers a relevant impression. The network architecture is simple and is directly connected to the ISP and hence avoids the need to go to a publisher and buy expensive ad slots.

IMO, this is super shady stuff with strong entanglement on our privacy. How? Well, since the ad network is injecting its code onto the sites via your ISP, it is keeping a track of every website you visit/everything you browse via your browser unless it is on HTTPS (which is also subjective).

Also, it is worth noting that you will see these popups in incognito mode or any private mode of the browser as well as all your traffic goes through the Internet service provider’s DNS. So the ad network (Adphonso here) receives all packet data first before it is served to you and inject ads via javascript code in an iframe. Resulting in your privacy == screwed!

How do I get rid of these popups?

Method #1 – The Host file

Well, this is the standard procedure to block your machine from sending requests to some specific server. Just add the IP address of the server and redirect it to 127.0.0.1 (Localhost/Self). In this way, machine wont be able to fetch the pop-ups from adphonso network. To do this:

After the steps above, just clear your browser cache and reboot the system. Presto! No more annoying MTNL popup ads 😉

Method#2 – Windows Firewall Inbound rule

If you don’t have access to administrator privileges for some reason, you can always create a Windows firewall inbound rule to block the request from those IP address. This will block the IP address for adphonso.com on OS level. To do the same, follow the steps below:

After the process make sure to clear browser cache and reboot the system. You will be good to go and won’t be presented with these annoying ad popups anymore. 😉

Method #3 – Block Adphonso via Router settings

Well the methods above will work great if you use a lan cable to access internet only on your pc or laptop but since this is 21st century – The age of portable web, almost all of us have multiple devices like smartphone, tablets etc to access the web via WiFi. The Method #1 and #2 will only block ads on machine level (for respective pc and laptop), so we need something universal which will block these popups across all the devices. This method will save us from hassle of setting up an Inbound rule or make changes in Host file.

To do the same, follow the steps below:

  1. Open the router configuration page – 192.168.1.1 in web browser.
  2. Login via defacto username/password: admin (if you haven’t modified it).
  3. Navigate to Access Management > Filters.
  4. Chose URL Filter in Filter Type Selection and enable it from the radio button below it.
  5. Enter http://adphonso.com and 203.94.243.40 in URL Index 1 and 2.

    block intrusive MTNL broadband ad popups

    MTNL router > Filter URL

  6. Hit save and reboot the router from Maintenance.

But this is wrong, right?!

It’s really a shame that we, a customer, have to resort to such workarounds and hacks after paying relatively more bucks per month for poor service and bandwidth. MTNL being a government-owned service provider should not resort to such cheap means of promotion and instead should work forward to improve their infra and support team which is in ruins.

I would suggest all of us MTNLers to drop a complaint by calling, emailing or visiting the exchange in person for which details can be found here. Better yet would be to move ahead and look for other options and boycott mtnl. We do have a lot of competitive Internet service providers in Delhi now but still not as competitive as Bangalore which is a nerd dreamland(maybe, a future post with explanation eh?).

So, what’s your take on MTNL’s shady implementation of javascript injected popup ads? Let me know in comments below!


Do your bit:

One of our reader, Akshay Badhe, has made it easy for you to complaint against this shady practise to MTNL by drafting up a template. All you need to do it, copy paste the draft below, edit your details and email it to MTNL.

To,
ED / GM / PGM / CE,
MTNL Mumbai,
15th floor, Telephone House,
MTNL Road, Prabhadevi, Dadar (West),
Mumbai – 400 028

Dated: <Date>

Respected Sir,

I am a customer of MTNL for many years. For last few months I am getting ads on my Web Browser from MTNL (I have attached screen shot of the same). After further Investigation I came to know that you are:

  1. Injecting data (Ads) in the requested information, which means you are altering the information.
  2. You are collecting my:
    • Machine details
    • Browser Details
    • OS Information
    • My usage pattern
    • And my location
      All of that, without my approval or knowledge which means you are spying on my web browsing.
  1. You are collecting all my personal data for your own financial benefits.
  2. You are breaching my Privacy by collecting my search & behavior pattern.
  3. These ads are affecting my speed of access which I pay for.

I expect you to take required measures & stop these shady practices of breaching my privacy else I won’t have any other option than moving on to other ISP and would encourage all my friends and relatives to do the same.

Regards,
<Your name>
<Your number>