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An incoming call was almost Rs 16 and an outgoing almost double. A mobile phone was a luxury despite being a necessity. Reliance then came and broke the price market. They took the mobile phone to the last mile. With the current 3G pricing, the Reliance-faithful were hoping for an encore. Reliance however, has not obliged -yet.

Availability

A reliance web world is easily traced and found. It might not be as popular as a Vodafone store, where a minimum of two hour waiting is expected, it is always crowded. The store locator on the website works perfectly with over 20 outlets in Mumbai alone.

Snapshot
Cost of 3G Prepaid SIM: Rs 49
Activation Charge : Rs 50
Activation Timet: 4-24 hours

The store however is a letdown, with no token system and several people hoarding the few customer care desks, any information is difficult to get. The customer care executives are overworked and distracted.

Outlets Visited: Reliance WebWorld, Citi Point, Andheri Kurla Road, Mumbai-59 and Relaince World, Basant Lok , Vasant Vihar, Delhi.

Ease of acquiring services

All the processes are standard. If you have 'satisfactory' documents, the store can turn your request around within a matter of minutes. The prepaid system throws up a few loopholes that haven't been sorted out. If you are the resident of a city with no permanent address in the country-you are not eligible for a prepaid SIM card. However, you can acquire a postpaid connection. The reasons for the discrepancies couldn't be answered by the telecommunications provider. Repeated attempts to get in touch with Reliance spokespersons failed.

Documents needed: Proof of Identity, proof of residence (permanent, rent agreement not accepted)

Value added services

Reliance's VAS is restricted to the Video Portal and the App Store. The Video Portal includes Television content that includes watching cricket, video dating and ringback video tunes. None of them aimed toward the enterprise customer apart from probably video calling, which too has been discarded by experts as a purely consumer gimmick. The App Store, unfortunately is a better looking version of R World which has refused to move on from its WAP days.

Experience

PCQuest Labs tested the SIM card, repeatedly on the HTC and were disappointed at not being able to neither surf nor access the Internet. Tech support then confirmed our suspicions -reliance does not work on an HTC Desire. It works very well on a Symbian platform. The video calling is comfortable with absolutely no voice or video loss but some amount of pixelation can be observed. The speed at peak business hours -nine in the morning and six in the evening-is 1.2 Mbps and during off hours it is closer to 1 Mbps. The speed pales in comparison to Airtel but it is far more consistent when compared to Vodafone. The plans are easily interchangeable and services can be switched on and off at will. The customer service agents might not be the best while they stumble through simple queries they have not dispelled wrong information yet.

Best prepaid data plans

For a consumer the Rs 649 for 30days that comes with a 1 GB quota is suitable, it is certainly more expensive than EDGE which is a tenth the cost but the muscle under the hood makes it worth it. For those who have a higher data usage rate the Rs 1800 plan for a month with a 15 GB data cap is worthy.

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