Wednesday, 11 August 2010

MNP In India

Are you sick of your operator?  Does your operator have poor coverage? Frequent call drops? Helpless customer care? That’s so embarrassing, right? You may want to switch the network for a while, but you can’t do it. Reason is you can’t afford to change your mobile number.

College students try to get cheapest rates and they don’t mind changing their number frequently. But for a professional, it’s a big pain to convey new number to everyone and update it. Plus no one can guarantee whether new network will satisfy your needs.

MNP is the solution. MNP stands for Mobile Number Portability. With this feature, one could switch the operator, without change of mobile number. Great, isn’t it?

Well well, unfortunately, we’re not that lucky yet. MNP is not active in India till date. Announced in June 2008, arrival of MNP is st ill awaited. It has been two years and TRAI is still postponing the launch of MNP.

Why is MNP important in Indian scenario? As of now, more than 15 GSM operators and 4 CDMA operators are live. Not all have good service in all places. Someone may find particular network problematic in a particular area. Consumers especially care about pricing of plans and talktime, call drops and quality of customer service. MNP will alert all operators to keep up with quality at the best possible price. Otherwise networks giving poor service will lose customers!

So, we agree that MNP is a pro-consumer move. But then, why is it still not here? No one has a proper answer. In a recent press release, TRAI ( India’s regulatory authority) said that BSNL Mobile and Uninor are not ready for it. It is required for a cellular company to perform some tests and evaluations for MNP service. And not just once, MNP launch has been postponed for 4 or more times. What can be the reason? Most likely, the leading operators (Airtel/Vodafone/BSNL/Tata/Idea) are afraid of losing their customers? This is exactly the reason why MNP should be launched as soon as possible. Because we , the consumers, pay to the operator, and it must stand up to our expectations.

Everyone is is expecting launch of MNP in 2010. So keep your fingers crossed! Soon you would be able to switch between operators, with the same number!

July 2010

Monday, 19 July 2010

Value Added Services: the world in your hands

A mobile phone has became an essential personal device for every Indian. One can see a mobile phone in the hands of a vegetable vendor, a businessman, a grandma and a school going kid. Today, more than 15 mobile networks connect people throughout India. Voice and text are two important services provided to mobile users. But is that all a device in your hands can provide? Absolutely not, Yeh Dil Mange More! What’s more? Value Added Services.

So what is a Value Added Service, abbreviated as VAS ? You may feel that you are well connected to the World with voice and text. Perhaps you are wrong. Value Added Services (VAS) provide you possibilities to get connected in a more interactive and rich manner. Simplest example of VAS is the Caller Tune. You have a feature to let your callers listen to a nice song when they call you – days of boring tring tring are over!

Voice Mail is another powerful VAS. Unfortunately, very few people use it. Perhaps most Indians are free to take calls all the time! If you are a pretty busy person, and you dont want people to have to call your number 5 times to reach you, you could divert calls to your voice mail box. It will record messages from your callers for you, which you can listen later when you are free.

Missed Call Alerts (MCA) has became  popular. If you get out of coverage or switch off the phone, you don’t get any idea about callers. With MCA, you get SMS from caller’s number during that times. If you don’t want to miss any call, MCA is the must have VAS for you.

Carriers like Vodafone offer some unique features like Call Filter. You can block specific number from calling you. Personalized Messages is another good feature where, you can set a message defining your current status, that a caller will listen to when he or she calls you.

GPRS enabled internet on the move. EDGE, the next version of GPRS improves mobile internet speeds.  All mobile enthusiasts are now waiting for 3G, indicating 3rd Generation. 3G is the fine combination of GSM and CDMA allowing voice/text with high speed internet. Rated speed for today’s 3G is 3.1MBPS ! You could check emails, browse thousands of sites, watch videos on the move.

That’s not all, the need for speed continues to exist. Next high speed version, 4G is already being tested. Technology is one step ahead of our demands from our mobile, so there is no need to worry!

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February 2010

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Calling India from Gulf?

Middle – East ( aka Gulf ) is a popular destination for Indian workers from Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and other southern states. Proximity to India, good wages for skilled labor, relatively easy to obtain work permits, and an established expat Indian community are the primary reasons why lakhs of Indians flock to these shores every year. UAE, Oman, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are among the major countries which have expat Indian populations.If you are one of the Indian expats in Gulf,  here’s an interesting piece of info :

  • Normal Calling Rate from Indian mobile( Airtel/Vodafone etc) to Gulf – Around INR 7 per minute.
  • Normal Calling Rate from Gulf Mobile ( Etisalat etc ) to India – 2.4 Dirham (Approx INR 30) per minute.

The calling rates from Gulf to India are almost 4 times the other way round! In addition, most Indian mobile operators have special prepaid packs that reduce calling rate to Gulf to almost Rs 2-3 per minute.

Conclusion:

1) Get your family a prepaid mobile connection if they already don’t have one.

2) Topup online using mobikwik whenever you want to talk! Mobikwik accepts all international credit cards and Indian net banking and works instantly.

3) Give your folks a missed call so they can call you back. :D

Mobikwik has many satisfied customers from the Gulf who use it regularly. If you are from Gulf and want to share your experience using mobikwik, do come forward and comment!

January 2010

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Google needs help!

Google Adwords urgently needs a better payment gateway in India. They are using Times Direcpay which has taken Adwords payments from my bank account and others and not yet credited it to Adwords. I made another payment and even that is not credited. More users are reporting the same issue.

Many online merchants like mobikwik rely on google adwords to get new users everyday. But issues like above make me wish there was a reasonable alternative. ( No, Bing and Yahoo paid search are both a joke. On Yahoo, I have to dial a number to get in touch with a sale rep just to get started. Did anyone tell them its 21st century, 2nd decade? Bing is better but their ad format is funny. )

Why don’t we all send a “Get Well Soon” e-card to Google Adwords India? But wait, there is no contact ( email/phone/anything) info to get in touch with a Google support rep for anything.  I faced the same issue of a faceless Google when mobikwik hosted accounts were disabled with no warning and took more than 1.5 months to get re-enabled.

Google needs to understand that Customer Support cannot be automated. Help Forums are not a substitute for customer service.

Update : As of 13 Jan 10 am, my payments have been credited yet I got a reply from the google adwords contact asking me to send the reference number for my payments so he can address the issue. Looks like folks inside Google are out of Sync with one another.

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