Wireless Connectivity Issues – Airtel GPRS and Tata Indicom Data Card

Just got back from Bombay after a hectic five day trip where connectivity was a major problem, so this blog post is for putting it all on the record:

1. GPRS: Airtel has two GPRS offerings: Mobile Office, priced at an insane Rs. 499 a month (they had initially told me Rs. 16 per day of usage, but that never virtualized in the billing). The other is Net on Phone (NOP), which doesn’t allow third party applications like Twitter mobile, PLUS from STAR India, GMail for mobile or Google Calendar for mobile. Why not? No one knows.

So, I requested for mobile office on the 21st since I was going to be in Mumbai. Today’s the 28th, and it’s still not been activated. I’m back in Delhi, and told Airtel CC to not activate it, and not bill me for a service they haven’t provided.

2. Data Card: TATA Indicom has a data card at (they claim) 152 kbps. While at the IAMAI Web 2.0 Conference, I had planned to blog live – there was no Tata Indicom signal inside ITC Grand Central, and for the next few days that I was in Mumbai – connectivity was unreliable. Imagine a max speed of around 136kbps, but an average speed of just 20kbps.

My Indicom experience has been awful since the beginning – we bought the connection around the 27th of Feb this year, and I wasn’t able to use the connection till around the 21st of March. The retailer, from a Tata Indicom showroom, had sold me a modem that wasn’t from the company, and was Rs.2000 more than the actual one. The company contacted me after I blogged about the issue, and the modem problem was rectified, charges levied while service was not operational were removed, and they also offered to refund the entire amount if I was dissatisfied with the service.
Now I had also been told that the connection is priced at Rs. 1500/month. Any additional charge? No, the retailer had said. Later I found that Indicom forces you to take a voice plan along with the data connection, for Rs. 199 (plus tax), and then there are additional charges, including a ridiculous one for “plan selection”. So the Rs. 1500/month becomes Rs. 1907.
So I wrote back to the company, and agreed to take up their initial offer of a complete refund. A senior exec from their Enterprises and HNI BU wrote back:

“I will arrange for the voice rentals to be waived off against your bill as a permanent feature. My local Product team member has already been sounded off on this irrregularity in serving a customer. Please be assured that we shall get the matter sorted out. Hope you will bear with us and continue to be a part of the Tata Indicom family. I shall get the waivers incorporated in your account and get back to you shortly.”

So, he never got back, the waivers were not incorporated, and subsequent emails to Indicom have not received a response. Now that I find that even their connectivity sucks – all the more reason to switch.

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  1. Does any of these firms know that you are a journalist? If they do, you will probably get special treatment and then you will not see what the hoi polloi must tolerate…

  2. I know a few people in both these companies, but I’m not going to contact them for operational issues. In Airtel’s case, I never got beyond the customer-care (the irony…). In case of Indicom, it was the VP (Marketing) for Enterprise and HNI Business who got in touch after I’d mentioned the initial problems at CS…but of late there’s been no follow up. Anyway, I don’t want any special treatment – just what I’m paying for.

  3. Guys go for Airtel GPRS , in mumbai it cost 7/day unlimited w/o download limit and though speed is low (wireless) still good for emails and petty work. 🙂 remember dialup days … 🙂

  4. No ISP in this country offers speed / services as pormised. This is India folks, what else can you expect?

    “a great nation, my arse”

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