I Phone Date Announced for India

Airtel has finally given the launch date for the eagerly awaited I-Phone in India.  As of August 22nd 2008 , one will be able to purchase an I-Phone from Airtel relationship centers across India.

The price has still not been released and i concur with the reasons given by Trak.in , which suggest that the strongest possible reasons are :-

1. Street expectations for the price are around 16,000-18,000. Its possible that Airtel plans on releasing this at a higher level which would in turn affect sales. By announcing it early,it would give consumers time to look at it rationally and go in for cheaper options.

2. They have no idea on what Vodapohone plans on doing and are waiting as much as they can to get clarity on their strategy and price it accordingly.

Good news for everyone waiting for this gadget. I hope that the pricing is attractive as well.

The other parties which will get affected are all the small players who have been selling the Iphone in India , through the internet, for as much as 28 , 000 – 30,000 given the scenario. Their days of literally having a bit of a monopoly are over.

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Airtel’s 8 Mbps plans Dissapoint

I knew about this a week or so before it actually rolled out into the market and was talking with one of my IT guys and both of us were very kicked about the speed, more so since we are both heavy on downloading.

But more disappointment’s than excitement post the launch. While the speeds are excellent what tends to really play foul are the download limits assigned. The cheapest 8Mbps plan is priced at 2222/- per month. Take a look at the excel below where i compare it to the 256 plan i have currently.

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Key Things to Note

1. The GB Limit will be reached in 2.4 minutes approximately.

2. 8Gb is equal to roughly only 12 movies.

3. If you were to keep downloading for another 2.2 minutes post crossing the limit i.e another 8GB ,the additional charges which would apply would be 0.90 Paise x 8000 MB = 7200 Rupees.

4. Cost per movie is 202 rupees which is more than what original VCD’s would cost.

So all kudos to Airtel to launch such plans but they need a more competitive pricing policy. Maybe come up with top up options which would allow users to make their plans unlimited. For someone like me, and a lot many more in India where downloading is a big activity these plans tend not to appeal eventually.

Incidentally, i would also request everyone reading this to please visit the Airtel site and look at the current broadband packages. Airtel appears to be deleting a lot of the previous options which were available, if yours is one that does not appear to be there but you are still getting a net connection, they might have put you on a different plan on their own. As illogical as it may sound , Airtel’s customer care executives made it very clear that the company was under no obligation to inform customers of plan changes. I mentioned this earlier as well on a post here.

Update as on 27th Dec 2007

I got my calculations wrong. Its not 12 seconds but 12 minutes for a 700 MB file. Please key in the update while going through the above chart. Not that it makes a big difference for me. Instead of reaching the limit in 2.4 minutes , it will now be about 2.5 Hrs.

Cell Number Migration Now Possible..

This much awaited change in the industry is finally here. The headlines in Times of Read read that the ministry has given clearance to this proposal after sitting on it for about 2 years and it will be available to consumers shortly.

While this spells a lot of flexibility and freedom for mobile consumers in India , the GSM operators themselves are not too happy. One obvious impact is the fact that they would need to become more “Customer friendly” and offer even more value adds to ensure the subscriber base does not dwindle.

The other reason , it would appear, for their frowns , is this move is being seen as something which has been initiated now to help Reliance out and offer them an easier path with respect to acquiring subscribers and their overall entry into the GSM segment. The service will initially roll out in Delhi , Mumbai , Chennai and Kolkata.

Whether that be true or not, i really dont care, this was a much awaited development which is going to benefit consumers in the long run and offer the freedom of migration which otherwise , or the lack of it, has been one of the primary reasons to not switch operators in the past. What i am apprehensive about is how “easy” in real terms will operators allow subscribers to leave…. would they for example become more stubborn in releasing security deposits, will i need to be wary of the fine print which might , now, include clauses which attempt to hinder this…?

Airtel Changes Broadband Plans – Slyly.

I had been noticing a steady decline in my overall download speed during the last few days. I attributed it to the overall Torrent / Download seed-peer equation but last night at 1 AM i noticed that the speed remianed constant at around 20kbps.

A small history – I have the 999 home plan from Airtel which i got over 1 year ago. As per the plan i was going to get 256 kbps during the day and  512 between 10 30 PM – 6 AM or so.   A pretty good plan which gets one about 1.5 GB worth of downloading every day. Avg speed during the day used to be in the region of 24-26Kbps and between 40 -45 during the night.

Decided to get in touch with Airtel. Airtel’s online live chat executives were not even aware that such a plan existed and kept harping that i had got it wrong. I called the call center which was more clued on and i was right.. Airtel had gone ahead and made amendments without any announcement or information being passed on to us consumers.

I was told that the “double speed” at night had been revoked and the constant speed would now be at 256. Upon asking as to why no information had been provide i was told “Airtel is under no compulsion to give such updates”  !!

One can take a top up of 299 and get back to the original plan. This however would mean that the total fixed cost for the plan goes to 1299 + taxes…pretty expensive in my opinion. None of the other plans come close to this. I am contemplating taking up a billing dispute with them as well now considering i was charged for a plan which i am not interested in and is no longer the one i had chosen.

Rather bad on Airtel’s part to do this in a such a manner. I might just switch to a different ISP as well now. I have the excuse to try someone new out.

Planet M to sell Mobiles

Heard the news that Planet M is planning to foray into Mobiles as well. Simply put they will be retailing mobiles from their stores as well. The tie up is with Essar Telecom , and the logic behind it is that music being one of the biggest mobile features , such a step would strengthen the bond between mobiles and music.

Nothing new , Planet M has been selling stuff other than music for a while now. The south extension outlet in Delhi has an all-together section on the FF which caters to electronic items – ipods etc etc.

I think it’s more of an effort to ensure more minutes per visitor in the store and consequently the higher chances of a sale. Music is still a big business as far as piracy is concerned and with no stringent laws governing P2P platforms such as Bittorrent (Thank God!!) , they might not be doing too well. Sure the places are always full, barely room to walk around – how many of you want to bet that a good percentage of those foot falls are people with no intention to buy but listen to free music ,and another percentage as people just “hanging out” in that particular market or mall? So if one cant make enough money through your initial business model , then what….. extend the product line.

Not that there is anything wrong with it, I hope it works, but i for one would have concentrated more on being able to deliver on what i started with (read good music). I have had numerous issues with them. Broken cd covers, scratched discs, unplayable movie formats , lack of stock, inadequate representation of all genres of music etc etc. I would rather fix that and then look at other things, and maintaining a certain min. standard on quality. What prevents the same mistakes, or lack of discipline occurring in other areas as well?

ICICI – Excuses Galore

I have been a customer with ICICI for over 5 years, and never have I faced the degree of frustration than I have at their hands. But now when I look back at it, I am almost glad it happened, if not banking services they did atleast supply a lot of laughter over the years.

You may ask , why 5 years with a bad bank , well , being an outsider in Delhi I had all acceptable documentation proofs at my Shimla address, and it so happened that ICICI was providing a student account which did not require these , hence the fall.

A day before newspapers carried the story of ICICI servers crashing, ATM’s not working and the possibility that it was a terrorist attack I had the misfortune of having to call them. While my account there is more or less redundant I still have one tiny attachment which still constitutes towards them being a part of my life – A Credit Card from Hell!

I was having a nice quite evening with my wife when I suddenly get a message informing me that my new Airtel bill has been generated and it will be cleared by ICICI Visa Bill Pay by the 20th…now this came as a surprise since no authorization to this effect had been given my me…nevertheless I needed to call and cancel this process otherwise there was a chance that I mite have paid Airtel double the amount (and unfortunately this happened to be rather high bill as well)

So once home I called ICICI and went through the entire phone menu to be told that they can’t do anything….system is under routine maintenance, please call back… I did about 10 times without success…… here are some of the excerpts from the actual conversations

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Cell Phone Cross Connection , Airtel frequency

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I was not even aware that this would happen.

Walking back to my car yesterday , speaking to my sister about something and then suddenly out of no-where i could hear these 2 guys chatting away regarding a consignment of furniture to be delivered to Jaipur.

The connection with my sister was totally cut off , and when these 2 finished their conversation then my phone tuned into some one else. I did for a minute think it might have been a police transmission , but then the content obviously did not support that (Not that i have any doubts that our cop’s would be talking about something like this)

Eventually after 3-4 conversations i was finally back in the loop , but this time with some other guy all together..who in this case could talk to me.. really strange..?

I guess the logical explanation would be that someone managed to touch that frequency while i was making the call…. the question is what… CB radio….in India, unheard of.

The second question would be that was i the only one affected or anyone using Airtel at that point / location. I did a google on it but failed to come up with any solid answers , but i spent all of 5 minutes looking so maybe i missed something. Maybe my handset?

Location GK 1 , Time 18:30 Hrs , Provider : Airtel , Handset : 6681, Nokia

Anyone? Hellooooooo?