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Stay connected to home, from everywhere

Shivani Shinde  |  Mumbai 

BRANDS offering promises less paperwork
Sarika Deshpande, a media professional, recently travelled to South East Asia. To avoid astronomical telephone bills, she did not wish to activate international roaming on her mobile and opted for calling cards that are available from most of the major telecom providers in India.
However, she was in for a shock when she found out that the card worked only in Bangkok. "I bought an Airtel card and could not call my home except from Bangkok," she says.
While calling cards are available everywhere in the world, the user needs to make a call from a landline if he/she needs to contact someone.
Now in India, a third option apart from buying of calling cards or activation of international roaming is available. This is the choice of buying an international SIM card right here in India.
Delhi-based Matrix Cellular Services, a global communications solutions company, provides country-specific SIM cards for your travel abroad.
The company claims that since it is a local number of visited country the user can save close to 60 per cent on their international bills. Besides, for an executive tracking the bill becomes easier.
Anant Sarkaria, DGM Head of Sales, Matrix Cellular International Services says: "We have seen an exponential growth in our business. On an year-on-year basis we are growing at 100 per cent."
The company provides SIM to corporates, students and travellers. Matrix on an annual basis has a sale of 100,000 cards.
While calling cards are available in denominations as low as Rs 100 and as high as Rs 25,000, sometimes there might be problems (especially, if one buys the card from India).
One, you need to have a landline for dialling. Chances are that in some places the cards might just not work (as happened with Deshpande). Two, you might have to deal with a customer care services agent who might not be proficient in English. Besides, if not used, these cards are not refundable, though valid for a long time (minimum one year).
As for activating roaming on your handset, there are charges that one needs to pay for incoming and outgoing calls. For instance, a customer needs to pay a deposit (refundable) and a monthly rental along with international roaming charges.
For instance, if you are travelling to Singapore, a Vodafone subscriber needs to provide a deposit of Rs 2,500, pay a monthly rental of Rs 149 and is charged Rs 45 per minute for incoming calls, and Rs 65 per minute for outgoing calls to India and Rs 15 for local calls.
Similarly, a Bharti-Airtel customer would be paying Rs 80/min for outgoing calls, Rs 50 for incoming and Rs 25 for a text message.
Sarkaria says Matrix SIM cards cuts on cost but also does away with unnecessary paper work in the visited country. Especially for students, who have restricted budgets or might not have the required paper work.
A word of caution though, when buying a SIM from India make sure that you buy the local number (for instance, if travelling to Prague in Europe you might be provided with a UK number).

First Published: Wed, December 26 2007. 00:00 IST