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SIM Cards, Wi-Fi and Internet in India

 

It is important for you to buy an Indian SIM card when you travel to India. Using an Indian SIM card allows you to make calls locally and internationally. It also provides you with internet access. Indian SIM cards are available at airports and many shops in the cities.

Internet and Wi-Fi are very common in India. Wi-Fi is available at many places throughout India including some hotels, restaurants, cafés, airports, trains stations, and shopping malls.

Quick Facts

  • The postal network in India is the largest in the whole world with 1.5 lakh post offices.
  • India owns a highly sophisticated network of telephone lines throughout its borders.
  • The local SIM card in India gets you an entry to important services in the country such as shopping, ordering taxis, food delivery, maps, and internet.
  • There are two types of SIM cards available in India, a postpaid SIM card and a prepaid SIM card.

Do Foreign Cell Phones Work in India?

Your phone may not work in India with any of the local SIM cards unless it is unlocked. In most parts of the world, mobile phones are locked to their telecom carriers and only they can unlock the phones for you.

If you have an unlocked GSM phone that will accept the SIM cards of other carriers and that runs on the same GSM frequencies India uses, you won’t have to worry about your phone not working India.

A quad-band unlocked GSM phone will be compatible with most GSM networks worldwide, including India. However, US cell phone carriers usually lock GSM phones to prevent customers from using other companies' SIM cards. In order for the phone to be unlocked, certain conditions must be met.

Indian SIM Cards

There are two types of SIM cards in India, to help you narrow down your choices. You can buy a prepaid SIM card in India, which is where you pay beforehand to use services like calling, data, and texting. However, there is a downside of getting a prepaid SIM card such as needing a constant top-up.

The other is a postpaid SIM card, where you are billed after having used the services like calling, data, and texting. However, they cost more than the prepaid plans.

The most commonly used service providers in India are Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance, Idea, Jio and BSNL which is the only government-run telecom service. Out of these, Airtel, Vodafone, Jio, and BSNL work well in most cities. Jio, Airtel and Vodafone offer the best coverage across the country.

How to Get a SIM Card in India

Prepaid SIM cards, with a maximum three months validity, can be purchased inexpensively in India.

The easiest way is to get them at the airport. Most international airports have counters that sell them. When you land in in India at one of the international airports, head to the provider of Airtel or Vodafone in the arrival section and ask for a Prepaid SIM card. You will need your passport, Indian visa, and a photograph.

For Airtel, the SIM card price is 400 rupees for foreigners, and it includes talk-time, daily internet, and SMS for a month. The SIM is activated within 2 to 3 hours. The only downside of this method getting it at the airport is that it is costlier than what you can get in the city.

Alternatively, you can buy them at cell phone stores or retail outlets of phone companies.

Making International and Local Phone Calls in India

To make calls within the same city in India you only need to dial the respective phone number. If you want to make calls to different regions in India you need to dial a special prefix, the so-called Subscriber Trunk Dialing or STD, and then the number itself. STD's can be found at http://www.bsnl.co.in/stdsearch.php.

If you want to make international calls from India, first you need to dial 00 which is the international access code for India, followed by the country code, the area code, followed by the local number.

Is Wi-Fi Available in India?

There are plenty of places in India where you can connect to Wi-Fi; some of them include airports, stations, the squares, and libraries.

Bangalore, Delhi, Pune, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai have decent Wi-Fi coverage. Major airports and railway stations in India do offer Wi-Fi, which is either free or paid. They can cost between 60 to 100 rupees an hour.

Luxury hotels in India offer wireless internet for their guests. As you wait at the hotel lobby, dine at the restaurant or unwind in your room, you can surf the internet without having to attach a telephone line.

Indian coffee shops and Cafe Coffee Day outlets have branches across India that offer free Wi-Fi. You can surf the net or check your emails while sipping on your cup of coffee.

There are a lot of restaurants which offer free Wi-Fi but at low speeds that tend to obstruct smooth internet surfing and does not let your apps like Facebook and Instagram run smoothly as they require decent data capacity.

Other places in India, where you might find Wi-Fi are libraries, bookstores, hospitals, supermarkets, department stores, and fuel stations.

Internet Access in India

Internet connectivity while travelling within India is fairly easy to find. You can get free internet access at airports, hotels, and restaurants. There are some public Wi-Fi hotspots in major cities.

Be aware that some hotels, restaurants, and cafés will charge you for their internet access. They will often charge by the hour and it will cost approximately 15 to 100 rupees or as high as 500 rupees in five-star hotels. It is wise to ask at these places about their internet availability.

You can get an Indian SIM card with data volume to get internet access. Prepaid SIM cards are available everywhere. Typically every street would have a store that sells SIM cards. A SIM card usually costs under 100 rupees. Recharging it with a credit worth 500 rupees is sufficient.

Internet cafés are another option. They are a great way of staying in contact with your family and friends. Internet cafés in India charge between 10 to 30 rupees per hour. They usually have broadband connections.

However, the Wi-Fi connection in Internet cafés might not always be a strong one as many people use it at the same time. You may only be able to check your email.

To ensure that you are connected to the Internet wherever you go in India, you can opt to buy a pocket Wi-Fi device. This is perfect if you are travelling with families or groups.

The best option is Trabug. This is a small convenient pocket sized device that you can rent at US$2.49 a day. The device gives you access to high speed internet and lets you connect up to 10 devices.

Television and Radio in India

Television networks in India provide many kinds of Bollywood shows, cartoons, serial dramas, and the news. The main television networks in India include Star India which is affiliated with Star Vijay, Zee Entertainment Enterprises which is affiliated with Zee TV, Sony Entertainment Television, NDTV, Sun TV Network, and TV18.

Broadcast radio today reaches a staggering 99% of the Indian population. People in India not only stay tune to the radio to listen to some Bollywood music or the news but also for the many talk shows like ‘Binaca Geet Mala’and ‘Jai mala’.

The most famous radio networks in India include Radio Mirchi, My FM, Big FM, Red FM, and Radio City.

Postal and Telegraph Services in India

The postal network in India is the largest in the whole world with 1.5 lakh post offices. Today, more attention has been given to the mountainous and remote areas.

The main aim of the postal department is to provide a postal service and a letter box in every village that has a population of over 500.

The Postal Services also provides other services such as Post Office Savings Bank facilities, Postal Life Insurance, collection of income tax returns, and the collection and distribution of telephone bills.

Explore India with Asia Highlights

Communication is vital when you travel to India. With Asia Highlights, we can help you with the necessary information about India’s Wi-Fi, internet, and SIM Card options, so that you can still use your smartphone and be connected across India and to your love ones overseas while you are traveling.

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