Airtel launched its 4G service in Bangalore a few weeks back and like passionate early adopters, we went ahead and bought a connection.
Within 3 days of the purchase, we realized our mistake and let me share the entire experience here.
Airtel 4G: Device Review
You have two options to choose from – a 4G dongle or the router. We went for a router which went kaput after 7 days. Apart from a blue light, we see nothing. Since we are in HSR layout, Bangalore we don’t really see such a bad network connectivity.
Whichever device you choose, it will cost you INR 4,999/ – which is non-refundable. Like the KMPH promise that automobile manufactures make (with a lost-in-the-ad disclaimer “tested under standard conditions”), we recommend you to test out Airtel 4G connection multiple times before buying the device.
Airtel 4G: Franchise Training
The sales person was equally surprised as us when we unboxed the device! He exclaimed – “I am seeing this device for the first time, sir!”. So did we!
The point is that the staff is poorly trained and the sales guy was clueless about basic stuff like SIM card slot, Wifi default password etc. Given that Airtel is promoting 4G as the next big thing, we certainly expected better training for the ground salesforce.
Airtel 4G: Customer Support
It’s all a BIG mess. After 3 days of buying the connection, we were getting less than a mbps connection speed. Calls to customer care were a big waste of time. For instance, even though you are an ‘existing customer’, you should always choose a ‘new customer’ option when trying to speak to the 4G customer care (number: 1800 103 0405). Cheat sheet? Yeah! This trick itself will save you a lot of time.
Aside, all device etc payment is done to the franchise and not to Airtel. But that’s the way it is currently being sold.
Airtel 4G: Billing Issues
This is totally consistent with Airtel brand. We were told that within 5 days of the purchase, we consumed the entire FUP (min. plan is 9GB for INR 1399/ +tax)! Given that the last week was a slow week, most of Pluggd.in team members worked from home.
Of course, Airtel didn’t share the usage logs and support request led to more requests and eventually, nothing is happening.
Airtel 4G: Speed
Within an hour of purchase, I started sharing the 4G speed at Pluggd.in/forum. You can see the graceful degradation of the quality!
What’s important is that once you have crossed the limit, Airtel will bring down the speed to 128Kbps (Government recently asked operators to not reduce broadband speed below 256Kbps (post FUP)
Summary : Airtel 4G is a myth. The company hasn’t yet fixed its infrastructure and we strongly recommend you to avoid the early bird enthusiasm.
There are better ways to throw your money.