Since Airtel’s 4G launch, a recent court ruling allows intra circle 3G roaming, and operators can offer 3G services in states where they do not own spectrum by getting into agreements with one another. So if you are an Airtel 4G customer, you would think that you will finally have access to high speed internet across the country, even while roaming, akin to what Airtel’s 3G customers now enjoy? Wrong.
Turns out if you are a 4G customer, you can only roam on Airtel’s 4G network for free – which is less than 5 cities in the entire country. So for example if I go to Delhi where Airtel has had 3G services for years, I will not be able to jump from 4G here in Chandigarh to 3G in Delhi, but will be kicked down to EDGE! This is despite paying a premium for the 4G service. The sheer absurdity of this policy is that it includes states where Airtel even has its own 3G network.
This doesn’t stand to logic, as 3G customers in one region enjoy 3G services in other circles while roaming for free, and you would think Airtel would keep the same policies for 4G users as well. So I called customer care, wondering why I wasn’t getting 3G coverage in Delhi?
Sure enough, the customer care executive informed me that I would have to pay for 3G separately if I wanted high speed data in Delhi. This is nuts Airtel! At a time when you’ve launched 3G services in Punjab via the intra circle roaming route, this is virtually a dis-incentive for prospective 4G consumers. I’d much rather settle for slightly slower speeds, but have greater coverage.
You know what is the fun part? Airtel executives at the company store in Chandigarh told me that I will be able to roam on Airtel’s 3G network when travelling, and the data would be deducted from my 4G balance, as even otherwise the 4G and 3G data prices are the same.
But the problem doesn’t end here. Turns out, it is impossible to pay for both 3G and 4G services at the same time. Airtel’s famed ‘MyPlan’ simply won’t allow it. So what exactly is the customer to do Airtel?
Switch to another network?
1. Users in Bangalore (another city where Airtel has its 4G network running), don’t seem to have any problems accessing Airtel’s 3G networks while roaming.
2. The Airtel social media team got in touch, and is checking with the relevant people. I’ll update this post once they get back to me.
Airtel’s Chief Product Officer, Anand Chandrasekaran states that this should be resolved in the next few days.
@v4ibhav I believe it is true today, will be fixed in a matter of days. Users are very aware that we are first 4G operator, Ltd coverage.
— Anand Chandrasekaran (@anandc) June 30, 2014