Mobile Telephones in India

Find out how to get yourself a mobile cell phone in India…

There is a lot of competition among mobile phone providers in India. Before choosing a mobile company, it is worth shopping around to see which tariff suits best.

The major mobile phone providers include:

Pre-paid Service Plans

Pre-paid connections are popular because they are a cheap and a convenient way to control spending. Recharges (top-ups) can be bought at any mobile phone dealer or online. Handsets are not included in pre-paid deals, so must be purchased separately.

Post-paid Service Plans

A variety of service plans are available, depending on at what time of day and to which networks a customer makes most of their calls. A security deposit of between Rs250 and Rs500 will be required, as well as an activation fee of between Rs100 and Rs200. A handset often has to be purchased separately.

Pre-paid and post-paid mobile connections can be applied for at the provider’s nearest service office. There are also many agents operating out of small shops offering mobile phone services with a variety of providers.

The required documents for pre-paid and post-paid connections include:

  • Filled-in application form
  • Two recent passport–sized photographs
  • Photo ID (driving licence, PAN card or passport)
  • Photocopy of the first page of their passport
  • Telephone or electricity bill as a proof of address

There are no restrictions on foreigners. As long as they can provide these documents, they can have a mobile number.

Using a Mobile Phone in India

Customers are usually given a choice of telephone number. The fee is included in the cost of the SIM card and there is no deposit. After a SIM card is purchased, for a pre-paid connection, the customer can choose how much credit to add. Calls can be received even if the credit balance is zero. The client can also choose the length of validity of the SIM card (six months, one year or two years). The cost of the SIM card will vary accordingly. This validity period can be extended when recharging the talk time. This does not usually require a separate fee, but the purchase of a minimum amount of talk time may be necessary.

After inserting the SIM card into the mobile phone, the retailer calls the service provider to activate the new connection. A confirmation message is then sent by the service provider. If there are any issues with the paperwork submitted, the connection can be interrupted.

The cost of calls in India is about Rs1 per minute for local calls and Rs2 for national calls. Rates may be cheaper with certain providers or call packages. For international calls, the tariff depends on which country is being called, and could be anything from Rs5 to Rs10. Most mobile providers also offer international calling cards, which provide cheaper rates for calling abroad.

When travelling outside of the state in which a subscription was taken out, roaming is activated on the mobile phone (it can be done manually or automatically, depending on the handset). Roaming charges will then apply, which vary from one mobile provider to the next.

The recharge amount for pre-paid connections is made up of three components: the processing fee, call time and service tax. For example, a Rs200 coupon does not offer Rs200 worth of calls, as a sum would be deducted for the processing fee and service tax. It is also important to check a coupon’s period of validity.

Post-paid connections are not as popular as pre-paid ones in India, although they are widely used by business people who require a mobile for their day-to-day work.

Usually, unlocked dual-, tri- or quad-band GSM mobiles that function on 900/1,800 MHz can be used in India. The voltage in India is usually 230 volts and 50 Hz, so not all foreign-bought phone chargers will be compatible.

If a mobile phone is stolen or lost, a report has to be filed at a police station in the vicinity where it went missing. The mobile provider must be contacted, so that the SIM can be blocked. A duplicate SIM card can be provided on presentation of proof of identity.