Telenor’s trial 3G service, which is advertised as a free service, can actually cost you thousands of Rupees, especially if you are Telenor’s postpaid customer.
Since prepaid users usually don’t have several hundred rupees in their credit so chances of losing huge money are far lesser than the postpaid customers who are usually given a credit limit of Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 2,000 or even Rs. 15,000 if they have IR activated on their numbers.
The news is that Telenor’s free 3G services can swallow your thousands of rupees in matter of hours, if not minutes.
We have received information from certain Telenor users who were charged thousands of rupees in just couple of hours for consuming 3G services.
This has happened despite a clear communication from Telenor that 3G services from the company will remain free during the trial duration, or till the commercial launch of 3G services.
In fact Irfan Wahab Khan, VP, Telenor Pakistan, had clearly mentioned during a press briefing on Friday that 3G services will remain free of cost during the trial duration.
How Customers are Charged for Free 3G Services?
If Telenor’s test 3G service is clearly free, then why customers are charged for the data usage? This remained an unresolved mystery for Telenor itself for several hours. Telenor in fact took good amount of time to investigate the issue to ultimately find the real reason behind such 3G data sessions that are charged by the billing system, even when 3G data sessions are free.
After intensive investigation, it was concluded by Telenor that if data-session is initiated in 2G environment and user travels into 3G environment without any session breakage then user will be charged for entire session at 2G rates or usual mobile internet rates, which are Rs. 18 per MB.
As we all know, 3G coverage at this point in time isn’t blanket and there are notable number of locations where 3G isn’t available.
In such cases, If user is in 2G zone and he/she initiates a data session that continues even when user enters in 3G Zone then the entire session is charged as per 2G rates, which obviously isn’t free.
The worse part is that since 3G data transfer rates are extremely high — and you can easily download tens of MBs in matters of minutes — the charges incurred by any such session may cross Rs. 1,000 with-in just few minutes.
This can be regarded as technical limitation for not logging a session as 3G session when user travels from a 2G zone into 3G zone with-in a session.
It is still unclear if this problem will persist in days to come or Telenor will be able to find a solution of this problem.
One way to avoid over-charging is to set you phone to use only 3G network. This can be done by selecting “3G” or “WCDMA” as network mode only. This way, your phone will never look for 2G data connection and only 3G data transfers will be allowed, which are currently free.
This way, however, you may not be able to use data services where 3G isn’t available.
Just to add, if you have a data bundle activated then all the data consumption — with 3G or 2G — will be covered with-in your data bundle caps. Hence adding a data-bundle on your account will be a good idea to avoid any billing surprises.
We have confirmed with Ufone, and their handshakes between 2G and 3G are recognized properly. Hence data charging on 3G with Ufone is purely free.