SIMha Raasi

The spectacular launch of Jio by Reliance may remind some of you of a similar splashy foray into mobile telephony by the same group in the 2000s. It, however, came a cropper because of a small wrinkle, in that people weren’t exactly comfortable with one basic feature: Paying the monthly bill.

It reached a stage where every household had at least one Reliance phone user, and it eventually ended with every household also having at least one Reliance phone bill defaulter. Much of Reliance network traffic was basically the company sending reminders to its users to pay the phone bill.  Of course, more people would pay up if telephone bills are any easy to understand and not compiled in a format that gives competition to Midnight’s Children.

Just as well that Jio services have been kept totally free till December, and voice calls are to remain free for ever. But we hope this is really free and not the typical telecomese free where after three free calls, FUP (Fair Usage Policy) will kick in.

Jio or no Jio, with 4G being the flavour of the week, we have prepared a no-nonsense, jargon-free, easy-to-follow. practical guide to migrate to it on your mobile and what usually happens to you in the process:

Step 1: Visit your telephone company outlet. Surrender your existing SIM and ask for it to be upgraded to 4G. It is a simple process that should take no more than 10 minutes. But deep down you know nothing in your life ever happens that easily.

Step 2: Get asked whether your SIM is pre- or post-paid? What difference does it make, you ask innocuously. If it is pre-paid, you have to give proof for your residential address.  If it is post-paid, you have to give proof ascertaining the proof you had originally given for your residential address.

Step 3: Luckily your driving licence is in your wallet. You take it out. But wait, the residence address on it is different. In fact, the city itself is something else.  Smack your forehead in frustration. You moron, it will only carry the address when you first got the licence which was several summers back.

Step 4: Go back home and pick up the Aadhar and return to hand it to the telecom outlet guy. Now comes the difficult part: Proving the picture on your Aadhar is indeed your’s.  As a rule, everyone on their Aadhar looks like the elder MGR in Naalai Namadhe. Just kidding. The telecom outlet guy will get it photo-copied without even once looking at it. So, for all anyone cared, you may even give Nandan Nilekani’s Aadhar, it wouldn’t matter.

Step 5: You will be handed the new SIM with the assurance that it will be activated within one hour, which, of course, is telecomspeak for: some day in the week, usually preceded by several maniacally desperate calls to the customer service by you. But heck, even after activation, no real change in the service. You rush to the telecom outlet guy, who after pressing the button to restart the mobile — this is the only thing he knows to do on a mobile  — will casually ask whether your mobile is 4G-compliant. What? The mobile has to be 4G-ready? Nobody ever told you this before. Anyway, you ask what can be done now. Get told that you need to buy a new mobile.

Step 6: Get back home and browse the internet for the right mobile. Internet is a great medium for crowd-sourced information that helps to confuse you even more. Also, on e-commerce sites, those recommending a phone sound extremely dubious and those speaking against it seem sincere.

Step 7: But you finally choose some damn phone, it arrives, you open the box, take out the phone from it, reach for the SIM and shove it inside the designated slot, and voila, no wait, the SIM doesn’t seem to go in. Okay, that was the wrong slot. Now try it in the right slot, oh yes, oh no, it again doesn’t fit in. You desperately try everything, try putting the SIM in every kind of slot, including round ones, available on the phone. No luck.

Step 8: This should have been your step one, you call your son or daughter, and explain your problem. But dad, he or she will say in a condescending tone that they increasingly use it with you, this is not a nano SIM. You need one for this. Nano SIM? You ask. Yeah, this SIM needs to be cut, your son or daughter will tell you. But this SIM is already cut, you say with exasperation. No dad, you are talking of micro-SIM. Nano is even smaller. You espy a patronising smirk on your son/daughter’s face.

Step 9: You go back to the telecom outlet to get the SIM made into a nano one. Will you stop with this or will you come up with a micro-nano where I will have to further cut this nano-SIM, you caustically ask the shop guy. But as ever you have chosen the wrong person as the target for your pointless sarcasm. Anyway, nano-SIM is made. It fits in the slot. The phone works. The magical ‘4G’ appears on a corner near the ‘signal tower’ on the screen. For a trial, you try a Youtube video and immediately — yes, finally — it starts buffering.

Step 10: Realise that this is the 4G available as of now.

PS: Step 11: If this is indeed 4G, you slowly start wondering, why should I pay the monthly phone bill.