With September (of 2010) being the month when the Private Telecom players can get started with the set up of their 3G network, users who need urgent 3G services at present has no choice but to opt for the Government run BSNL (MTNL in Mumbai and Delhi).
Before choosing BSNL (or MTNL), it is important to find out whether the 3G network exists in your area or not. A simple statement by BSNL officials that ‘3G services begin in Hyderabad (for example) from today’ would not be sufficient in this case. To get access to the 3G service, your 3G enabled handset must have access to a UMTS tower (Universal Mobile Telecommunication System) which is different from the regular 2G telecom tower.
You can see all the cities listed under the 3G network by visiting BSNL website but what is important is whether the area in which you live in your city is served with 3G network or not.
Find 3G coverage in your Area
Here is a trick (if I can call it) to find out if 3G network exists in your or not. Get your 3G handset and visit the Network menu (Generally this will be in Settings – Connectivity). Select UMTS (or 3G, as it appears) as the network mode and select Manual under the Operator selection.
Wait for your mobile to search for any available UMTS signals.
As the figure shows, I have CellOne 3G (in fact 3.5G) signal in my area. If you don’t get any resultant network, it simply means that your area is not covered under the 3G network, currently.
Note: There is no signal indication above the 3.5G in the figure because I tested it with Airtel Sim using which I will not have access to BSNL CellOne’s network. So although you can test the presence of 3G signal using this method, you cannot tell the strength of the signals unless you have a BSNL Sim card.
Update: If you have an Android handset, you test like this. Go to Settings -> Mobile Networks ->Select Network mode as WCDMA only -> Select Network operators -> Search networks. This will show you the list of networks that have 3G airwaves in your locality.
Complaint in case of weak signal
BSNL has introduced an SMS based grievance system where its subscribers can send an SMS as SIGNAL to 54141 to inform the respective BSNL authorities that there are signal issues in your area. The SMS you sent will go to the CGM office from where, responsible authority will call you back to take details of your area where you are facing issues.
That details will in turn be forwarded to your local BSNL officers who will have a visit to your area. They will first check if there are any issues with the tower itself and if yes, they will try to get that repaired.
Else if they find that it is simply due to lack of towers, they will forward the request of installing a tower near by your area. But do take good care that they do not install them too near to households.
The CGM office will check with the local BSNL office once every week to see that the problem you’re facing is resolved.