So deciding to go with Vodafone I learned a few things. First, you will see Vodafone signs on stores all across
Wherever you buy your SIM card it will work right away, but if after a few days Vodafone discovers a problem with your documents they will temporarily suspend your service until you can fix it. This is a pain to fix once you leave the state in which you applied for the SIM as
I will say two things about this. Wherever you have the most time, take care of business and make sure everything is working right before you travel outside that Indian state. Ensure all your services work, and all your subscriptions are in order. For example, it may not be possible for you to subscribe to the iPhone data pack outside the state you bought your SIM card in. Walking into Vodafone service centers outside your “home” state can yield giant sighs as they are limited in how they can help you. You are roaming now and little can be done until you return to your subscribing home state to fix things up. As a traveler you may not be going back to where you signed up so it is very important to make sure you are 100% before leaving. Calling Vodafone’s service centers is worthless unless you can speak Hindi. While they do speak English it is subpar at best and beyond basic communication, almost impossible. This is to include troubleshooting your SIM card. Your best bet is to have an outlet call Vodafone for you or stop in an authorized service center to get help.
To obtain your Vodafone prepaid SIM card, walk into a Vodafone service center and take a number or stand in the queue. If it is a smaller town and not very organized where a bunch of people are standing about, make yourself known to one of the representatives. In
Armed with the two copies, a photo, and the letter, Vodafone will give you a SIM and fill out a 2 page application which you will have to sign in several places. Ensure all the information is correct. Do not cross out anything on the form but start over if you have to. Usually they will fill it out for you to minimize errors. Try to write down your information or refer to your passport when they ask you questions. There may be a small fee to activate the SIM which is nominal. They will ask you what the initial charge amount will be, or how many rupees (Rs) you want to put on the SIM. Figure how much you will need. A call within
While Vodafone has a lot of iPhone data plans for postpaid customers, they currently only have one for prepaid customers. It is called the prepaid iPhone data plan which is 100Rs ($2.25) per month to use which will automatically be deducted from your SIM amount. If you are traveling for longer than 1 month ensure you maintain more than 100Rs in your account at all times or it may be disabled. The plan does not come with any data but simply allows you to use the EDGE network everywhere across
The iPhone plan data cost 5p/10KB which translates to 1Rs($.02)/200KB, or 5Rs($.10)/MB. A good rule of thumb is 10 cents per megabyte. This will give you plenty of inexpensive flexibility for checking e-mail, using Google Maps and GPS, or checking train schedules! It is the same price no matter where you are roaming on Vodafone in
Once your SIM card is activated in Vodafone’s system, you cannot subscribe to the iPhone data service for 5 hours. After you wait the 5 hours and subscribe to the iPhone data service plan it can take up to 24 hours to work. This is why wherever you are starting out you want to be there a couple days to ensure everything is up and running OK.
I will say this. The concept of the iPhone data plan is completely foreign to almost everyone. Just knowing it exists could land you a job at Vodafone as a knowledgeable employee. When in the Vodafone service center, if you need assistance subscribing to a service, it is considered “Express Help”, so just tell someone you want to activate the iPhone data pack and if they understand, you can jump the queue and go right to the Internet specialist or GPRS specialist as they are sometimes referred as. You can also activate it yourself with SMS by sending the phrase “ACT iphone” to 144. The SMS will reply back and state that your subscription will be active in 24 hours. Mine activated much faster than this in only about a few hours I noticed the E on my iPhone and could surf the web. If you have any problems or the SMS returns back with invalid parameters go visit the official Vodafone service center for help. Note those little authorized outlets probably won’t be able to help, let alone know what the iPhone data pack is. Most of them have never even seen an iPhone.
I have to give another word of advice. Don’t go putting too much money on your card to begin with. Keep the balance to a few hundred rupees only ($5). If there is a problem and Vodafone shuts off the card or you can’t get it working and you are traveling outside your home state where you can’t get it fixed, your balance won’t be refunded. It will probably be easier to just get another SIM card. As you may have figured by now this happened to me and is really quite common searching around. It may be because I went to the authorized outlet to begin with which was a mistake, as they did not properly stamp the documents with their dealer stamp which caused it to shutoff. Not my problem but that’s how it goes. I had to resubmit my documents all over again at another Vodafone store out of state which causes even more confusion and can take time for it to turn back on. I bought another SIM in the process and put a few dollars on it to hold me over until my first one was fixed. If you do find a nice outlet in a small village without a Vodafone service center, befriend the owner and obtain his e-mail and mobile phone information so you can call them to help with any problems. I still advise to skip the dealers and go right to the service center in a city if you can find one.
I did mention the authorized dealers are great for recharging as they are everywhere and don’t require you to find a service center. The only weird thing is they like to work with odd amounts. They may say 333 rupees for 333 talk time, or 555 for 555, or 1111 for 1111. They don’t have computers there so don’t think they are just going to take your money.
Coverage has been good almost everywhere and the Internet works on long stretch trains even in smaller towns. Vodafone is very prominent and far from a remote jungle, (the only place I did not have signal is
Another nice surprise is laptop tethering works right out of the box! I turned on internet tethering with my iPhone and plugged it into my Windows 7 laptop via USB and could surf without any setup or configuration. It also supports Bluetooth if you don’t want to tether to your laptop via a cable. Most carriers require extra money for this or you have to hack your iPhone to make tethering work but this is not the case. Tethering worked right out of the box using stock iPhone applications.
iPhone Disclaimer: In order for you to use your iPhone with Vodafone or any other carrier in
India Travel Itinerary: Mumbai, Darjeeling, Varanasi, Khajuraho, Agra, Sawai Madhopor, Udaipur, Jodhpor, Jaisalmer, Jaipur, Delhi