During a trip to India, you will certainly need to use the internet, so Buying a Data SIM Card to check a flight or a train timetable, to find a temple on Google Maps, or even just to say hello at home. Considering that the wifi connection very often doesn’t work, the best idea is to buy a data SIM card to use the internet at complete convenience. How to do? Don’t count too much on the wifi of the hotels you stay in: if they aren’t high category they probably won’t have a connection, even in big cities. Then forget about using it in the hipster cafes you love so much when you go to London or Berlin. The best solution is to buy a data SIM card for the internet: it is easy, fast, and above all cheap.
Where to buy a data SIM card for internet in India
In practically all the streets you will see stalls or shops displaying signs of the main telephone companies in the country: look for posters of Airtel, !deaVodafone, Jio, and Reliance and you will have arrived at your destination. Remember to bring your passport, a color passport photo, and a photocopy of your passport with you. These are the only documents needed to be able to register a SIM card in India. If you urgently need the SIM and have forgotten your passport at the hotel, they will find a way to register it with an Indian friend passing through… it’s not very regular, but now and then you have to make a virtue of necessity.
Update October 2017: we are in Madhya Pradesh with the need to buy a new SIM. In the state, they cannot issue them to anyone who does not have an identity document, not only from India but from Madhya Pradesh. New rules are in effect for a couple of months, it seems. No problem: the owner of the hotel where we were staying found a friend who bought a data SIM card for us for 300 rupees.
How much does it cost to buy an internet data SIM card in India Very little: we who have to work with two computers every day, using the phone as a hotspot, chose an Airtel plan that allowed us to have 3GB of internet a day, complete with unlimited phone calls and 100 text messages a day. All for three months. The cost? 845 rupees in total. Just under 12 euros. You can opt for lower profile solutions, which will allow you to surf for 1.5 GB per day (more than enough if you don’t have to work on a PC) for the modest sum of 445 rupees with a contract valid for three months.
If you plan to stay in India for less time, choose the one-month plan: !idea for example offers you 1 GB per day for 28 days, and unlimited calls for just 299 rupees. The 4G coverage (or at worst 3G) is excellent in almost all of India: even in many rural villages that we visited the SIM card worked with pretty good performance. All the SIM cards you purchase can be used in all states of India: but when you leave the state in which you purchased it you will have to activate roaming: data consumption does not change even when you use the internet in this way. It has happened to us a few times that we have had to activate roaming even within the same state in which we purchased the SIM card, perhaps in particularly remote areas. We don’t know why, but without activating this option the internet data didn’t work. As regards browsing speed and signal coverage, our choices undoubtedly fall on Airtel and Vodafone India.