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Phones in India


Do you need a land line or a mobile phone? Here is an overview of the Indian telephony market and some tips to help you choose the best offer.

Telecommunications are a essential part of everyday life, especially during an expatriation project. Indeed, you will probably want to keep in touch with your family and friends, regardless of the duration of your stay in India. Whether you want to make phone calls or send short text messages, India has all that you need. Indeed, several phone service providers will delight you by numerous offers at interesting rates. But before choosing, make sure to compare offers so as to determine which one would best suit your needs and budget.

 Good to know:

Unlike in many other countries, the land line is still very common in India although the use of mobile phones has become very widespread. Indeed, more than 4 million mobile phones, smart phones and tablets are sold every day in India, thus increasing the number of subscribers. However, in rural regions, only 25% of the population has access to phone services.

Land lines

Whether you are making a long stay or moving permanently to India, having a land line can be useful. You can choose among several phone service providers, among which are Airtel and MTNL which are the most popular ones. To subscribe, in general, you will have to produce your identity card and proof of address. You will also have to pay a security deposit, and produce a reference letter issued by your home country's embassy or consulate in India.

Note that phone calls made from a land line to another are cheaper in India than in other countries.

 Good to know:

To make phone calls from India to abroad, you have to dial the international phone code, that is “00”, followed by the country code and the phone number without the initial “0”. As regards phone calls made within India, you have to dial “0”, followed by the regional code and the phone number.

 Useful links:

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)

Mobile phones

The India mobile telephony market has developed a lot since a few years thanks to the number of mobile phone service providers in the country. However, to date, some 200 million inhabitants do not yet access to telecommunication services, particularly in rural regions. In major cities, on the other hand, adequate infrastructures have allowed the growth of the market, hence encouraging people of all ages to have a mobile phone.

Foreigners can use their mobile phones during their stay in India if these are compatible with GSM 900 and 1800 frequencies. Otherwise, they are required to request their mobile phone service provider in their home country to unblock their phone before traveling. In some cases, they will offer you to use the international roaming service, which can be very expensive. Therefore, it is best to purchase an Indian sim card on the spot. In general, an Indian sim card costs around INR 300, providing credit amounting to INR 500.

To purchase a local sim card, you will have to produce a passport-size identity photo, your passport and visa, as well as the phone number of an acquaintance in the country (it can be either your employer or your land lord). Note that you can choose between a postpaid and a prepaid sim card. In the case of the prepaid sim card, you can recharge your account with prepaid scratch cards once your credit is over, or even at ATMs, by phone, or on your service provider's website.

 Useful links:

Idea Cellular
Reliance Mobile

Did you know?

In 2012, the number of text messages allowed from the same phone number was limited to five so as to reduce social problems. Moreover, in Bihar, women were prohibited from using mobile phones by village chiefs.

Public phones

If you do not yet have a land line or an Indian sim card, you can still make phone calls in public phone booths. You can find these in most cities, as well as in villages. These can easily be distinguished thanks to a yellow signboard indicating ISD which means international calls, STD meaning calls to another State and PCO meaning local phone calls.

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