Airtel GPRS in India with unlocked iPhone 3G works well

Airtel logo

Airtel in India has a nice offer with unlimited GPRS (actually EDGE in cities) for 474 Rs. (€7) per month for pre paid accounts. Perfekt when you like me are traveling for some time in the country and want to have a mobil Internet connection. GPRS is not the most speedy connection when you used to 3G but it’s surprisingly ok I find.

You can of course also get 3G connections in India, but only in the bigger cities and they cost more. You may also need a permanent Indian address to be able to get them.

Airtel pre paid service you can get if you have a passport photo, a copy of your passport and a copy of your visa with the immigration stamp.

The shop staff got our Airtel accounts activated in 10 minuts but said that the GPRS would take some 24-48 hours to be activated.

I received a SMS that I wrongly interpreted as if the GPRS service was active, it was a message saying that the iPhone did not support automated settings via SMS so I would need to call customer service.

I started to fiddle around with custom *.ipcc files, the iPhone Configuration Utility etc. but could not get GPRS working. It turned out that it was not activated yet and the next day when it was, everything worked automatically.

I repeat, no special settings or anything is needed! Even tethering just works.

We have iPhone 3G with OS version 3.1.2 (not jailbroken). They have obviously been unlocked (for a fee by our service provided at home) so we can put any SIM card in them.

It’s quite cheep to make phone calls also, 10 Rs. (€0,15) per minute to Europe and less than 1 Rs. per minute inside India.

P.S When you as a tourist want to signup for mobile services you need to bring one photo and your passport. Best is to in advance have copies made of main page of the passport, the India visa page and the entry stamp page. Some mobile services is only available for people with a permanent Indian address.

Update 2010-02-02: Some annoying things with Airtel (may well be true of the other providers also):

  1. You get spammed silly via SMS as well as telemarketing, some prerecorded.
  2. When you register for the DND (Do Not Disturb) list it takes 45 days to go in effect.
  3. There automatic customer service is confusing at best.
  4. It’s really difficult to understand there customer service staff. They talk really fast and in what sounds like pre scripted sentences.