[Updated] Airtel’s 4G LTE policies are a joke on the consumer

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.

Airtel 4G

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.

Update 2:

Airtel’s Chief Product Officer, Anand Chandrasekaran states that this should be resolved in the next few days.

39 thoughts on “[Updated] Airtel’s 4G LTE policies are a joke on the consumer”

  1. I have airtel 4g sim and using airtel 4g in Pune city. Recently I come down to Bangalore for official work and here I am not able to use 4g service. I am only getting 3g network. Not even 3g network. Same my Bangalore friends are able to use the airtel 4g. Airtel is cheating the people.

  2. Hi All,
    Airtel is making customer fool. I have purchased 4g wifi hotspot device in October form kolkata till now I am not satisfied with the service it doesn’t work on roaming when I mailed them they replied me with the solution and mailed me that the problem has been resolved actually it was not when again i mailed them they reply asking my location and again told me problem resolved and again same problem 4g 3g nothing was working in roaming and finally i mailed them again and they were asking the same question my location. They are just making us fool there device doesn’t work on roaming Delhi, hyderabad,ranchi nowhere even 3g is also not working. Right now I am in kolkata home network and now it’s working. Really fed up with the service .

  3. I have a 4G Airtel dongle from Kerala, and recently bought a 4G data pack. In Ooty, TN, Airtel has 3G service, but my 4G dongle will only connect at 2G (EDGE) speed. Airtel Customer service finally explained (after repeated complaints) that 4G data packs will only give you 2G speeds where 3G service is available. If you want 3G speed, you have to buy a separate 3G data pack. (To penalize 4G customers like this is a unbelievably ill-conceived policy to say the least, but there you go.)

    So, the next time you are traveling, check to see what Airtel coverage is at your destination. If it only has 3G, be sure to get a data plan that is specifically for 3G. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck with only EDGE speed.

  4. I have Airtel 4G sim enabled for Andhra Pradesh circle. I’m getting 4G service in A.P. But when I came to Bangalore the data is always on 3G. Not even a single time I could get 4G here.

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