How to get a Mobile Phone Connection on your Business Visit to India
You are planning a business visit to India and you are wondering how you can get a mobile phone connection in India. You need information on how to get a prepaid cell phone connection in India, how to use your foreign mobile phone in India, how to make calls in India, tariff plans in India and the names of popular cellular service providers in India.
This article will give you answers to all these questions and guide you through the process of getting a cell phone connection in India.
Choosing Prepaid over Postpaid
Popular GSM cell phone service providers in India, such as Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance or Aircel offer both postpaid and prepaid cell phone plans. If you are on a business visit to India, a prepaid plan would be ideal. Even if you plan to stay for as long as 4–6 months, a prepaid plan would be a cheaper and easier alternative.
You can immediately get a new prepaid mobile phone connection from any of the thousands of cell phone retailers that you will find in India. You can recharge your prepaid connection anywhere, at any time, with top–up cards for as low as Rs. 10. Some prepaid plans even offer validity for as long as 6 months to 1 year. This means that you can continue to receive free incoming calls, even with a nil balance, until your validity runs out.
Getting a new SIM card
To get a mobile phone connection in India, you need a mobile phone and a SIM card that you can buy from any cell phone retailer. Here’s how you can get a new prepaid SIM card:
- When you visit a mobile phone retailer, you will be shown several SIM cards from different Indian GSM mobile service providers with 10 digit phone numbers printed on them.
- Choose a number that you like. You will have to pay for the SIM card. The approximate cost being Rs. 100 to 125.
- Submit the required documents, such as two recent passport–sized photographs, a photocopy of your photo identity (Drivers’ License, Voter ID, PAN card, Passport) and a photocopy of the first page of your passport. These are required as proof of identity by the cell phone company.
- Fill in the details, such as name, address etc. in the SIM card application form that the cell phone retailer would give you. The retailer will submit these to the service provider’s office for verification and validation.
- When you install the SIM card into your mobile phone, it will give you a new local number immediately. The retailer will get your number activated by making a call to the service provider. Once your number is activated, you will get a confirmation SMS on your new number.
- You will have to add prepaid talk time to your new number in any amount that you wish to. Request the retailer to explain the varied offers and denominations of prepaid recharge coupons. As long as you stay in India, you can keep adding call time as and when you need to.
- Roaming will be activated on your phone, so you can use your mobile even while travelling through different Indian states. You can make local as well as international calls while in India. When you leave India, you can simply discard the SIM card and revert back to your home country SIM card.
Recharge coupons, validity, talk time & tariff plans
- The start–up prepaid pack usually does not contain talk time and validity (the monthly rental). You can choose from different plans that offer both talk time as well as validity.
- Prepaid recharge coupons usually have three components, which are the processing fee, call time and service tax. For example if you buy a coupon for Rs. 200, you will not be able to make calls worth the entire Rs. 200, as a certain sum would be deducted for the processing fee and service tax. Make sure to check the period of validity offered.
- Choose a prepaid plan that offers a longer validity period. So even if you run of calling time and can’t make outgoing calls, you can continue to receive free incoming calls until your validity expires.
- Local calls in India are approximately Rs. 1 per minute or lower, while international calls cost Rs. 5 to Rs. 8 depending on the prepaid plan and the country that you wish to call.
Making international & STD calls
To make a call to any landline number in India, you will have to dial the STD code (similar to the area code used in the U.S) followed by the number. For example, if you wish to call a fixed line in Bangalore, you will have to dial the STD code which is 080, followed by the landline number.
To make local calls to other cell phone numbers, you will only have to dial the 10 digit number. No STD codes are required. To receive international calls on your mobile, you need to ask your friends/ family to dial India’s country code which is 91, followed by your 10 digit mobile number.
Using your GSM mobile phone in India
Mobile phones in India operate using GSM technology and function within 900/1800 MHz ranges. If you already own a GSM phone and if your home country too operates within the same GSM range, you can use your phone in India. If your cell phone is an unlocked dual, tri or quad band GSM mobile that can function on 900/1800 MHz, you can be sure that your cell phone will work in India. The power in India is 230 volt and 50 Hz, so make sure that your cell phone charger can work within this power range.
Buying / renting a cell phone in India
If you have just bought an expensive cell phone back home and don’t want to damage or lose it on your business visit to India, you can always buy an inexpensive mobile in India, for as low as Rs. 1,500. This can save you from worrying about your expensive blackberry, while traveling in India There are cell phone retailers in India who even rent mobile phones to foreign nationals for a limited period.
Cell phone service providers in India
There are many cell phone service providers in India. Each provider offers varied prepaid/ postpaid deals and offers. Different service providers also operate within different circles. New Delhi, Kerala, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are separate circles. Maharashtra and Goa form a circle, while Mumbai is a circle by itself. On the whole, there are about two dozen circles in India. There are mobile phone service providers that operate from all of these circles or only from a few.
Take your pick from the following cell phone service providers in India:
- Vodafone: http://www.vodafone.in/
- Airtel: http://www.airtel.in/
- Aircel: http://www.aircel.com/
- Idea: http://www.getidea.co.in/
- Spice: http://www.spiceglobal.com/SpiceMobiles/SpiceMobiles.aspx
- Tata Indicom: http://www.tataindicom.com/
- BSNL: http://www.bsnl.co.in/service/mobile.htm
- Reliance: http://www.rcom.co.in/Rcom/personal/home/index.html