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Communications for Expats in India

Submitted: September 2013

In India, competition among telecommunication service providers is intense; as such it may be worth reviewing the options which are being offered in order to make an informed decision as to which ones best suit you. India’s mobile industry has been successful in providing affordable services to the average man and boasts extensive coverage on major networks. There are many mobile plans available to you in India, so it might be a good idea to determine beforehand which services you will need.

India’s Telecommunication sector boasts several service providers, with major ones including Airtel, BSNL, Idea Cellular, Reliance Communications, Tata Indicom, and Vodafone. Each of these providers offers different services, rates and phone options, and some may vary in the regions in which they offer coverage, especially the smaller providers. When selecting a network, you should ensure you’ll receive good signal strength in and around your area, especially if you are in the countryside or a rural location, which are normally more prone to limited network coverage. Most service providers are able to provide you with coverage information, but it’s also good to solicit the views of friends or colleague who may be able to testify to mobile signal strength.

If you want to use your current mobile phone in India and avoid paying high roaming charges to your foreign phone company, this option may be available to you depending on your phone. Cell phones which are able to operate on the GSM 900 frequency will function normally in most cases. All you need to do is purchase a SIM-card from your desired service providers for about Rupees 100, in any of the major cities to be able to enjoy local service rates. In some cases however, providers may have sold you a cell phone which is locked to their network, and hence will not operate as is in India. Some providers may unlock your phone for you by providing a code, while other will not want you to use the services of other companies, and whenever possible they’ll charge roaming rates. If the latter is the case, you might be able to get your phone’s unlock code online from a private company for a relatively small fee. In any event, be sure to ask the pertinent questions on this topic before subscribing to a phone contract.

 If your phone is not GSM compatible, you can purchase a low-end phone in India upon arrival, or speak with your current service providers to find out about their international service options.

If you want the option of landline telephone services, this is available to you by many of the aforementioned mobile service providers. Generally, connections are made within two to five working days after applying for the service, which may be done by visiting the nearest office of your chosen company or arranging for a company representative to visit your home. Proof or address, such as a lease agreement, and proof or identification, such as passport or driver’s licence, are among the required documents, as well as a deposit which may be refundable. Phone bills are usually sent via mail at the end of each month, and may be paid online or in person at one of the company’s offices.

India has numerous internet providers throughout the country which offer reliable services at competitive rates, although frequent power cuts may result in disruptions. Most telephone service providers offer broadband internet connections services. Though you are free to choose different ones for each, you may be able to save if you opt for these services in bundle packages from one provider. As with landline phones, proof or address and proof of identity are needed to apply for internet services, which are usually charged at a flat monthly fee, with highest connection speeds costing the most. To view the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s list of internet service providers, and the regions in which they offer their services, click here.

 

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