Friday, December 28, 2007

Setting up a mobile account in India

After reaching India, one of the first thing I do is get my own mobile number set up. That is the reason I bought an unlocked phone. Now the strange thing is I can use SIM card only of certain carriers. Fine, so I bought SIM card of a carrier. Let's call it FairCell.

Now my impression so far has been that India is undergoing a cellular revolution with access to mobiles as easy as it gets. Hmmmm.. but access to mobiles is only part of the story. What you do not hear is the procedure to setup the connection and charges for it. My experience is with the prepaid card and not the montly subscription. I just want to narrate an objective description without any prejudice.

So first with the procedure. You have to take a photo ID, a proof of address and a photo to the cell dealer. Let us assume that you buy a phone from him. Now, this guy gives you a packet with a form. The packet has a phone number listed on it and also other details. You fill the form and submit it with other mentioned documents. The form is pretty straight forward. The dealer then sends an SMS to some service and you should expect your phone to be activated within 30 minutes. Sounds easy, right? Not so fast amigo. My phone was not set up for a day and I had to visit the dealer again. To his credit, he was extremely co-operative and helpful and immediately solved my issue.

So my take, have a good personal relation with your cell phone dealer and have patience. Another impressive thing was that I had a wide array of cell numbers to choose from. The paperwork was minimal.

Now about the rates. The packet containing cost me about 495 rupees. I had to pay another 99 rupees for, I believe, activation. This sums up to about 600 rupees. This gave me a talk time of only 10 rupees. The rates of FairCell were about 2 rupees per minute. This converts into a 5 minute talk time. Of course, I found thes talk time rates very unreasonable. My dealer told me to pay another 65 rupees so the rates would be reduced to 30 paise per minute for FairCell to FairCell number and about 1 rupee per minute for FairCell to another carriers. I paid that. Now my setup cost excluding the phone was about 765 rupees. After this I paid another 60 rupees for talk time.

So excluding the phone price, the setup cost for a mobile account was about 765 rupees.

This is still cheaper as compared to the pre-paid phone cards in USA. But one thing is in the US, the phone comes free. So it is kind of hard to compare the two systems. But why compare burgers and batatawadas?


Post a Comment

<< Home