Mobile Operators, MNP and Mumbai


I know this is not the most creative topic to write on. I know you won’t consider this as one of my best works. A few of you pundits, I am sure, will go to the extent of debating over whether my pen should retire after reading this. But hey, You haven’t been through 6 mobile numbers in as many months. So you wouldn’t know.

I had spent a good part of my 4 years at college with a mobile phone under the original reliance 501 plan. Reliance’s network in gujarat is right up there and so are the plans. My 4 years in college passed off without much huss and fuss (at least as far as mobile phones are concerned). So when I shifted to mumbai,  i simply filed in an application to transfer my number to bombay as well and thought that was that. How very wrong I was. So I have compiled a little review section (chronologically ordered with respect to my usage) of some of the mobile operators i happened to use over time. The list of course is to merely to serve as an indicator. The services of these operators may be different in other locations.

1. Reliance – My first number. I got rid of it sooner than I learnt to spell Reliance. Poor signal and ridiculous plans. Unless every person you know swears by Reliance, dont think of this operator. The charges of communicating with people on another network are so expensive, it is as if they have committed grave sins by choosing another operator.

[Edit] My younger brother happened to take up a Reliance plan and the charges seemed reasonable. Except for the 3g which still seemed like a fair knock to me. No complaints about the call and sms charges. If you can figure out what plan would best suit you, reliance would come for a decent price. I still have complaints about the coverage though. Especially in the Powai area.

2. Uninor – Thanks to the ridiculously expensive Reliance, i was drawn to arguably the cheapest mobile service provider. The 60% off offer gives you unbelievably low call rates on the local network. But it turns out, the 60% discount comes up only in the middle of the night or when the network is at the brink of extinction. If you see the 60% discount popup on your phone,  be rest assured, either your network is going to conk off or you are fast asleep. Did i mention neither my office nor my home saw a healthy uninor network?

3. Videocon – Yes I am chindi. I get drawn to cheap mobile services like flies to light. This time it wasnt the call rates, but the gprs rates that attracted me. Unlimited browsing at peanuts a month was a dream now that I had a phone that was capable of exploiting gprs services. Needless to say, I had to give up videocon as well. The culprit was ‘call drops’ – a concept I thought was a myth until i used a videocon number. Add to it a non-existant customer care service and you have the recipie for endless frustration. Those two weeks of my life flitted away with me hitting the redial button and trying to draw the attention of bored-looking customer ‘executives’.

4. Vodafone – I was done with an unresponsive customer support and network strengths that couldnt lift a pea. Vodafone, if you are willing to pay for it, is the best service available. The network is impeccable and the helplines actually help. For nearly two months I happily shelled out more than twice the amount compared to my previous operators. Then, android happened. The relatively cheaper gprs service ‘Vodafone live’ blows raspberries in androids face. Android users need to dig into their pockets and opt for ‘mobile connect’ which costs a bomb as rental, plus usage charges. It was a question of who stays, the phone or the operator. If I’d told you my phone was a samsung galaxy, you would have foreseen who stayed.

5. Idea – No she wasn’t my own sim, but I flirted with her for a few days. Enough to form my opinion. Idea doesn’t have the flawless network of vodafone and is noticably cheaper as far as calling goes. If you are call-happy, you will like idea. But the sms plans and gprs are expensive again. Most importantly, my office cant boast of ideas signal. So the number could have never suited my purpose.

6. Loop – Loop showed a lot of promise I must say. Decently priced and a very good network, this was the only operator that offered me a seamless connection all the way from work to home – something i value. But there were strange catches. There are fabulous offers, no doubt, and I like being informed of the latest ones. But 30 smses a day somewhat gets to me. As a result, the website is always badly outdated and even the folks at the galleries can’t seem to keep up with the rate at which the company churns out offers. If that wasn’t enough, Loop goes into roaming in areas of navi mumbai! And the roaming charges are not pretty. Lastly and most importantly, they deduct balance for missed calls too!  Of course they credit it again later, but for a guy like me who tries to survive on peanuts of balance for days, it was very irritating. The customer care were of no help and only hid themselves from the trouble of solving our problems by putting all helplines on busy.

7. MTNL – once called “Mera Telephone Nahi Lagta”, mtnl has come a fair way to compete with the other operators. The network is pretty good and the data rates consistent. If you hunt around enough, you can find call and sms plans to suit your needs. I say hunt because the customer care is easily the worst in the business. If you happen to be lucky enough to get a line through to them, they will amaze you with their genuine incompetency. Thankfully, I haven’t run into the desperate need to contact them yet and my android purrs along with no complaints.

As you would have guessed already, more or less everyone around me has been bewildered by my seemingly irresistable urge to switch telecom operators. Reema obviously is far from bemused. With Mobile Number Portability now in place, the goverment has saved them a lot of trouble. Atleast they wont have to update their contacts for me anymore.

[Edit]

8. Airtel: So finally tried out Airtel as well. Partly because I realized, MTNL gives enough trouble on roaming to kill a pundit. Partly because my friends kept cursing me whenever I flitted out of coverage area. I took my good friend Mohit’s advice [credit where credit is due] and switched to this operator. Speedy 3G and wonderful coverage. A touch on the expensive side, but it is cheaper than Vodafone. I was mighty pleased with the service until the past week – That was when a frikking base station of Airtel caught fire! Now I am virtually in a mobile black-out. No incoming. No outgoing. No sideways movement. Nothing.

What is with my luck, seriously?

[Edit]

Just had my first real confrontation with the Airtel customer care and they are an absolute bitch. They seem to think of you more like criminals than customers to be honest. By far the worst experience with customer care. Highly recommend readers to not take up an airtel postpaid connection. Their systems are malfunctional, they spelt my name wrong and got my email address incorrect. Took over 4 months to get my name corrected after repeated phone calls. (they are still sending my bills to the wrong email id). If I had known the hassles that await me, Id have never come within sniffing range of an airtel connection.

 

Verdict?

Reliance – If you already have friends on the network and are happy with cheap calling but a relatively expensive data plan.

Vodaphone – If you don’t mind shelling out that extra buck for competent customer care.

MTNL – If you are going to spend a lot on data and want to keep expenses at a minimum. Of course you should be confident enough to deal with problems on your own as there is no such thing as a customer service.

Loop – If you are not looking for 3G and rarely venture out of mumbai. Word of advice, you might want to keep your eyes open for the ever changing plans. One that may suit you might just come aling.

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Piyer gets derailed.


Piyer : “ehlo?”

Me: “Hey, sup?”

Piyer: “Arey Hari, do me a favor na. Just send a mail on my behalf to the project team. I’ll be coming to office after lunch.”

Me: “Ok, sure. What should I write?”

Piyer: “Priya will be coming late to office as her bus has been derailed.”

*Stunned silence*

Me (slowly): Derailed?

Piyer: “Ya re.”

*More silence*

Me : “But you are coming by bus, right?”

Piyer : “Ya re. How dumbb are you, Hari?”

*A little more silence*

Me : “How can a bus be derailed?”

Piyer : “Arey kyon nahi ho sakti? Sirf Indian Railways can be derailed or what?”

Me : “Arey aisa kaisa bus hai jo derail ho gaya?”

Piyer : “Arey useless, chindi sa travels hai yaar. Krishna recommended it to me. Sheesh. (Don’t tell her I was cursing her)”

Me : “Err, don’t worry I wont breathe a word. But derail hua kaise?”

Piyer : “I don’t know yaar. I was sleeping on my berth, sab sahi tha. Then I woke up and the bus was just standing still. So, I asked the person nearby and he said that the bus has been derailed.”

Me: “Tujhe kuch hua toh nahi?”

Piyer : “Mujhe kya hoga?”

Me: “Arey tera bus derail ho gaya hai na!”

Piyer: “Haan so? But if you don’t mail the project team, toh unko kuch ho jayega. Chhoti si chhoti cheez derail ho gayi toh poore team ko tension go jaati hai.”

Me: “Project mein aaj tak kya derail hua hai?”

Piyer : “Arey last build derail ho gaya tha, you don’t know? Client bhi gusse mein tha.”

Me: “By derail do you mean code break ho gaya tha?”

Piyer: “Hari, derail and code break are two different things. You are way dumber than I thought.”

Me : :S

Piyer : “Accha tu mereko derail mat kar, fatafat mail bhej dena.”

Me : (:fear:) “Haan haan. Derail mat ho.”

Piyer : “Yeh sab mere saath kyon hota hai. Last time meri flight bhi derail ho gayi thi.”

Me : “!! Flight bhi?!!”

Piyer : “Ya ! Can you believe that?!”

Me : ” No, I can’t!”

Piyer : “Arey teri zindagi mein sabkuch time pe hota hai kya?”

*Silence again*

Me : “Accha can you spell derail?”

Piyer : “Of course I can spell. Stop derailing me.”

Me : “Then spell it.”

Piyer : “What? derail?”

Me: “ya”

Piyer : “D-E-L-A-Y”

*Infinitely pin-drop silence*

Piyer : “kya hua?”

Hari : “Nothing. I’ll send the mail.”