India  ✱  Travel tips !
Mobile Phone in India

Having a mobile connectivity while in India could have been one of the issues you are still looking for an answer? Will my mobile phone work in India? What kind of Calling Card in India people use? Can I buy a Card in India for my phone?

You want to use the mobile phone while visiting Hampi (for that matter your India tour in general). You can do that without much of efforts. Let us make that decision first, weather you are going to use the same mobile phone you’ve been using in home country or go for an Indian one?

So what are the pros and cons of these two options?

For the first option, you need to checkup with your local provider if they have the international roaming option with the Indian cell phone networks. If so, the next question would be about the cost of calls. I’m sure the incoming calls too would be charged.

The obvious advantage of not changing to an India phone card is that you need not have to tell anyone about your “new” phone number. And you don’t miss that much-needed SMS’s while you were on tour. But then this could be a disadvantage as well. You might get some casual calls from your friends or clients - who are not aware of your whereabouts - and you pay for it in the international roaming rate!

The second option for you to explore and go for an Indian phone connection.

There are a few giants companies offer mobile phone services in India. The mobile phone instrument and the SIM (the phone card that contains your phone number) are sold by those tiny shops you can spot around the corner. There are hundreds of them in large towns, and their numbers small towns and villages are not far behind either. In short you will not find it difficult to spot a phone seller. Though it is available, Calling Card is not a very popular means of making phone calls in India.

In general you have two choices of services for mobile phones– the Prepaid and Postpaid. For a short time visitor a prepaid mobile connection is the best-suited choice, even if it means you stay for 3-4 months!

There are a plethora of schemes and promos that can confuse you when it comes to buying a connection. Let’s take a simple case to understand it in a general way.

You walk into a shop that displays the mobile phone service they offers and ask for a new connection. The man in the shop throws on the counter a bunch of SIM card packets. The 10-digit phone numbers are written printed on each of it. You pick and choose an okay looking number out of the lot (buy only the new packed ones). The cost of this is typically Rs 99 (about USD 2).

The next job is to get it enabled. That is to activate the number so that you can make and receive calls to this number.

The shopkeeper can do the activation bit for you then and there, once you pay for the SIM and sign the necessary documents. Just open the pack and install the SIM in your mobile phone. Then he makes an activation call to the service provider. A confirmation SMS is received to your new number. This typically takes a few minutes. Now you are good to go.

Before that just enquire with the shopkeeper how much talk time and validity do you have with the package you have just bought? If you have bought the “basic” package you need to recharge for the talk time and monthly rental (validity). Typically the monthly rental is about Rs200 (USD 4). The talk time currencies (referred to as top ups) can be bought in various denominations. The local calls are charged a few rupees per minute. The international tariff is approximately 6 to 8 rupees a minute depends on the scheme and the country to which you are calling.

Now the last bit about the formalities. The phone is activated on an immediate basis. But the validation of your application is done in about 2 week’s time. That means verifying your details like addresses and other particulars provided by you. If the verification (by the service provider) is not completed by this time period, the activation will be put on hold (means you have to run back to the service provider again)

When you walk into that shop to buy a mobile phone connection carry a passport size photograph, a photocopy of a photo ID (Drivers’ License, Voter ID, PAN card, Passport etc will do) and a photocopy of your passport (if you are not from India). Fill up all the details (the blank forms will be given by the shopkeeper and ask for assistance in filling it) and handover the signed papers then and there itself. At least your part of formalities are completed.

If you are not residing at place of purchase, you may be asked to fill up an additional “Outstation Customer Declaration” form.

The shopkeeper then sends these completed forms to the service provider’s office. If they refuse to do this bit for you, just look for another shop that offers this service.

Mobile phones with SIM card in India uses the GSM technology. Technically Indian network operates in GSM 900/1800 ranges. It means if your home country too operate in the same GSM range and you own a GSM phone, you could use the same instrument in India too. In other words check if the GSM frequency of your mobile phone instrument matches with those used in India.

Typically if your phone specification says Tri-band (operates in the three GSM ranges) or Quad band (operates practically in all countries with GSM network), you phone could work in India too. In many countries the mobile phone operators sell the connection and phone instrument as a package. You need to check if your phone is “locked” in such deals. This essentially means you cannot use it with other providers, without getting it unlocked first.

The GSM ranges in general are : 850 MHz (In America); 900 MHz (Europe and many countries of Asia); 1800 MHz (Europe and Asia) ; 1900 MHz (In America) ; India uses GSM 900/1800 MHz ranges.

If your phone instrument is “India compatiable” all you need is to buy a SIM card in India to get a connection.

Also just don’t forget that charger stuff. Powersupply in India is 230Volt , 50 Hz. So check if your charger is labeled to work in this power range too.

A few more practical points about bringing your phone along. Imagine that your are on a backpacker style tour and don’t want to worry toomuch about that expensive phone you’ve just bought at home. Just think if you can afford a damage to it . Or do you still have that old phone gathering dust at the corner of your cupboard? Of course you can always buy a cheap no-nonsene mobile phone localy in India for as low as Rs1500 ( about USD40) and burry all the worries on the phone front.

Before I close one last bit about the international , local and national roaming tariffs of the Indian mobile services.

Practically each state of India forms a “home circle” for the operators in that area. Calls made within this state is charged at local call tarrif , typically 1.40 rupee per minute ( just below 4 US cents) . Calls made out of this circle ( to another state) is called STD ( Subscriber Trunk Dialing) and typicaly it is twice the local call charges, that is about 2.40 rupees per minute ( 6 US cents) . Typically international outgoing calls are charged at Rs8 to Rs11 ( 20 to 28 US cents) a minutes depends on destination and the type of network.

Of course if you are within the home circle , incoming calls are not charged, whether STD or International. National roaming charge is typically Rs1.7 per minute for all the incoming calls .That is if you are receving the call when you are outside the home circle ( state). In other words if you have bought a mobile connection in New Delhi and gone to Bangalore, you will be paying Rs1.7 per minute for each call received. So decide which is going to be your home state before buying the mobile connection to keep enjoy the real cheap rates.

Incidently Maharastra & Goa together is a circle. Mumbai (Bombay) is another circle. Delhi, Kerala , Tamilnadu , Rahjastan etc are all separate circles. Karnataka is the circle in which Hampi is located. There are about two dozen circles all togther in India.

Some of the popular oprators in India are listed here. Please checkout the services and process to get a connection from the respective providers.

Aircel : Chennai, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam Orissa, North East, Jammu & Kashmir, Bhiar, Himachal Pradesh - www.aircel.com

Airtel : Most of India - www.airtel.in

BPL: Mumbai (Metro) - www.bplmobile.com

BSNL –All of India - www. bsnl.co.in

Idea : Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana,Himachal Pradesh ,Kerala,Madhya Pradesh,Maharashtra,Mumbai, U.P.( East), U.P.(West) -www.ideacellular.com

Reliance : Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Kolkata, Madhya Pradesh, North East, Orissa, West Bengal - www.reliancemobile.com

Spice : Karnataka, Punjab - www.spiceindia.com

Tata Indicom - Most of India - www.tataindicom.com

Vodafone : Andhra Pradesh,Delhi, Chennai, Gujarat, Haryana,Kolkata, Karnataka, Kerala,Maharashtra & Goa, Mumbai,Punjab, Rajasthan,Tamil Nadu, U.P.( East), U.P.(West), West Bengal - www.vodafone.com

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