Sunday, December 23, 2012

No more 3G roaming for Vodafone, Idea users

DoT has barred these two telecos from offering 3G roaming services outside their licensed zones.

In a big jolt for Vodafone and Idea users, Department of Telecom (DoT) has barred these two telecos to offer 3G roaming services outside their licensed zones through pacts.
In a notice, issued late Friday night, DoT has asked these telecos to pay a penalty of Rs 50 crore in every circle where they were offering high-end data services on 3G networks through roaming pacts. "This implies that Vodafone and Idea face the prospect of being slapped with penalties to the tune Rs 450 crore and Rs 550 crore, respectively, for this alleged violation," reported the Economics Times.
The government of India had in December last year asked telecom operators like Airtel, Vodafone and Idea to do away with 3G roaming agreements that allow them to operate in circles where they do not have any 3G spectrum.
No more roaming for Vodafone, Idea
But after a split verdict from TDSAT (telecom disputes tribunal) with regards to the legality of the 3G inter-circle roaming pact Airtel, Vodafone and Idea have said that they will continue to offer 3G services under the pact till a final verdict comes.
On the other hand, Tata Teleservices and Aircel choose to do away with their 3G roaming pact after the earlier government directives.
Vodafone offers 3G services to its customers in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh (West) using Idea Cellular network. Idea offers 3G services Delhi and Kolkata using this pact.
Out of total 22 circles in India, Bharti, Vodafone and Idea had won 3G spectrum in 13, 9 and 11 circles, respectively, in the 2010 auctions. With the 3G agreement, they ensured that their customers could get access to 3G anywhere in India. But the government has contended that it is in violation of terms and conditions of the licence.
Meanwhile, the telecos have given 60 days to respond to the recent verdict of DoT. "The notice adds that the Centre may cancel their 3G permits if the government is not satisfied with the replies furnished by them

Friday, December 21, 2012

Reliance's Xmas bonaza: Calls to India now 40% cheaper

The new calling plan allows every user from the USA, Canada, the UK & Australia to call their friends and family in India.

Web based international calling service provider, Reliance Global Call has announced up to 40 per cent discount on the eve of Christmas and New Year season. This discount can be availed under Reliance Global's Unlimited Calling Pack plan.
The plan allows every user from the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia to call their friends and family in India during this holiday season. The plan which earlier used to cost $15.99 (Rs 880) for USA has been reduced to $9.99 (Rs 495), while for Canada the revised from CAD 14.99 (Rs 833) to CAD 8.99 (Rs 444). Users in the UK will now have to pay GBP 7.49 (Rs 669) instead of GBP 11.99 (Rs 1,072) and Australia users have to shell out AUD 14.49 (Rs 832), not AUD 19.99 (Rs 1,148).
The monthly pack offers unlimited calling to India and 25 other countries at no extra cost. Along with unlimited calling, users have no daily limits or caps to follow while calling to India. For frequent callers, the pack also offers auto renew facility for uninterrupted calling and if the users wish, they can opt out of the contract at any given time and there are no hidden terms in that.
Commenting on this offering, Punit Garg, president and chief executive officer, Reliance Communications said, "Festivals are the best time to connect with your loved ones and we are once again offering our customers the lowest Unlimited Calling to India during Christmas and New Year. Keeping in mind the higher calling needs of our customers during this time of celebration, we are offering a 40 per cent savings that will allow each one of them to talk longer with their loved ones and will ensure maximum benefits to our valued customers."

RIL wants to offer voice services over LTE network

RIL has sought permission to test voice calls on its TD LTE network and is likely to get it

A day after we reported RIL (Reliance Industries) promoted Infotel Broadband's plans to offer voice services over its 4G network, the teleco has now requested the government for permission to connect its networks with other telcos' for testing voice calls on its LTE network.
The Mukesh Ambani-promoted Infotel Broadband is the only firm that holds fourth generation airwaves on a national basis. Currently the voice facility is not permitted on the 4G network, however that is likely to change when the new policy comes into effect in 2013. The new policy allows companies to offer all forms of communication services after migrating to a Unified Licence.
According to a report of Economic Times, the DoT (Department of Telecom) is likely to approve the request for this testing. The DoT wing which is looking into this has recommended that RIL be allowed to test 10,000 connections (for 4G voice services) and the company be allotted these many mobile numbers.
Reliance Industries
The Telecommunication Engineering Centre (TEC) has also suggested that testing be restricted to a geographic area at a time, and the same infrastructure be used at different circles as the testing progresses. It also wants the government to allot time period like six months for the testing purpose and added that the company must not offer commercial services during this phase.
This request on the part of Infotel Broadband points out to its plans to offer voice services on its LTE network and if it happens it will shake up the industry as the spectrum they have got is four times that of 3G operators (20MHz) and even more than the combined spectrum of 2G and 3G with any operator. And they have got it for much lower price.
Going by Mukesh Ambani's history (Reliance Communication was under Mukesh Ambani when it launched telecom services a decade ago), Infotel Broadband is likely to play on affordability making both voice and data more affordable for the consumer.
At present, voice services are not available in the 2,300 MHz band, the frequency on which 4G or Long Term Evolution (LTE) services will be offered in the country. But voice facilities are available on other 4G bands like the 700 MHz that are used in the US and Europe.
According to the ET report, Infotel had recently informed the government that it had indigenously developed what it termed VoLTE - voice over LTE - and said a trial would be helpful in maturing this technology platform. It also said that the trials would involve RIL employees, consultants and technology partners using these services. The company has also assured to pay interconnect charges to link its network to that of other mobile phone companies for testing purposes.

Operator watch: Best 3G pre paid data plans in Gujarat

Tata Docomo, Idea Cellular & Vodafone have 3G networks in Gujarat.

In Gujarat circle, apart from government owned BSNL, there are three private operators with 3G licenses, namely, Tata Docomo, Idea Cellular and Vodafone. All three of them cover the major cities of the state, but Idea Cellular has the widest 3G network there, covering more than 160 towns and cities, while Vodafone covers close to 40 locations and Tata Docomo covers only 14 cities (as per the data provided by the operators on their websites).
data plans in Gujarat
While in terms of coverage Idea Cellular is a clear winner, let's find out who wins in terms of data plans for prepaid subscribers.
Idea Cellular offers 3G data at 3 paise per 10 KB in case the subscriber doesn't opt for a pack. Idea's packs start at Rs 21 for 75 MB of data valid for 3 days, and excess consumption is charged at 3 paise per 10 KB, which is the case with most other packs too. For 150 MB in 7 days you will need to pay Rs 45. You can also buy 1 GB of data for 7 days for Rs 185. The monthly packs start at Rs 105 with 300 MB data. Rs 205 gets you 600 MB and Rs 245 gets you 1 GB of data. Rs 445 and Rs 745 are the charges for 2 GB and 4 GB, respectively. In the monthly packs the excess data rate is lower at 2 paise per 10 KB. You also get unlimited packs with Idea Cellular for Rs 945 and Rs 1,495 with fair usage of 6 GB and 8 GB, respectively, after which the speed will be reduced to GPRS (2G) levels.
Vodafone charges 2 paise per 10 MB for all excess data or data usage without any pack. The packs start at Rs 49 for 150 MB to be used within 7 days. All the other packs are monthly, starting at Rs 97 for 300 MB. 1 GB costs Rs 249, for Rs 375 you get 1.5 GB, 2 GB is available for Rs 449 and 3 GB costs Rs 649. The monthly packs offered by Vodafone bundle much more data compared to other operators' plans, and Vodafone offers up to 12 GB, which costs Rs 2,499. Other packs are priced at Rs 849 for 5 GB, Rs 1,249 for 8 GB, and Rs 1,499 for 10 GB. Vodafone also offers night packs for surfing the internet, which are very attractively priced. For Rs 248 you can get 2 GB of data for 30 days, although you need to use it between 12 to 7 am. Similarly, Rs 448 will get you 4 GB of data (with the same time restriction). Vodafone has quarterly (90 day) plans as well starting from Rs 1,799 offering 9 GB of data. The costliest plan is priced at Rs 3,999 for 30 GB of data. You also have the option of Rs 3,399 for 24 GB and Rs 2,499 for 12 GB. However, Vodafone doesn't offer unlimited plans at all.
Tata Docomo
Tata Docomo offers the costliest unbundled data charges (charges without a pack or excess usage) at 10 paise per 10 KB. However, in terms of packs the operator is very competitive and offers single day packs for only Rs 5, with 50 MB data bundled. Rs 19 will buy you 300 MB for 3 days and for 7 days you will need to pay Rs 39 for the same amount of data. The operator also has a 21 day pack priced at Rs 255 offering 1 GB data, which makes it very expensive. Monthly packs start at Rs 90 for 600 MB and go up to Rs 450 for 2 GB. There is also a Rs 351 for 1.5 GB pack.
Not just in terms of coverage, Idea Cellular is a clear winner even in terms of tariffs. It is the only player to offer unlimited tariffs and its other packs are also very comparable in terms of price, and offer maximum choice as well. However, in case you are a heavy user you might feel a little constrained by the options. Vodafone is the second best and for heavy users it does have bigger plans, but the lack of unlimited plans makes it less attractive to most users. Tata Docomo seems to have lost steam. It was the first to launch a 3G network in Gujarat, but it has not added to its network very aggressively, and even in terms of pricing it is the least attractive with very few options, and that too more expensive ones.