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I travel to India a couple of times per year. I purchased an Indian SIM card and I find that there is no network for this Indian service provider in Southern Germany (Friedrichshafen/Konstanz). And as per Indian telecom rules, the service provider deactivates a number that is not in use for more than 90 days.

I would like to know if there are any method to preserve my Indian number when I am in Germany and not using the Indian number. For further information, the Indian service provider is Vodafone. And the plan is called a prepaid connection (for people who are familiar with the Indian telecom system).

What is the cheapest way to preserve my number? Or what is the cheapest alternative? German telecom companies charge heavily for roaming and I have no interest in using them in India.

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    One option that comes to my mind is leaving it with trustworthy people in India and ask them to put it in a phone every so often, for the minimum needed activity. (Which for some phones can be as little as receiving a text which is free of charge.) – Willeke Aug 21 '16 at 15:02
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    Yeah I did try that a couple of times but a) they cannot be doing it every time for me b) I would like to use the SIM card immediately on arrival in India (I arrive in different cities and travel a bit before reaching my final destination). – DarthVader Aug 21 '16 at 15:11
  • This would be easy if you can find someone with a dual-sim phone, of which (s)he only needs to use one SIM. – Jan Doggen Aug 21 '16 at 15:24
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    I find it unusual that Vodafone has no roaming agreements with Germany, since it is a large multinational provider. Maybe roaming has to be enabled explicitly, or maybe you have tried the SIM only in your Indian phone which does not support the bands in use in Germany? – Federico Poloni Aug 21 '16 at 17:37
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    Can you just leave a big enough balance in the account to cover the time away? I thought that with Vodafone what happened after 90 days is that they started deducting Rs20/month from the account, and only terminated the service when the balance fell below Rs20. Leaving Rs200 in there should cover you for a year(?). – Dennis Aug 21 '16 at 21:53
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You can use the number indefinitely for a few $/€/£ every year. Just create an online account on the network provider's website and top-up ccassionally.

I have Jio and I top up online with ₹1699 every year.

For Vodafone,

  1. International roaming has to be activated before leaving India by sending a text SMS ACT IR to 144.

  2. Create an online account at https://myvodafone.vodafone.in.

  3. Top up with around ₹300 every year on the Vodafone India website or at a shop.

According to the Telecom of India, mobile numbers can't be deactivated if they have ₹20 after 90 days of no usage. After that, network operators are allowed to deduct ₹20 every month (while keeping the number active). When the balance ultimately falls below ₹20, then the network provider can finally deactivate the number.

  1. Monitor the ₹20 deductions from abroad, and top-up online if necessary.
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    When you activated this International Roaming, were you able to receive Network for the Indian number in Europe? Assuming there is no network, is there a possibility to credit the Indian number with money? – DarthVader Aug 22 '16 at 23:59
  • @Müller yes I have topped up my Vodafone India number online without my phone on the network. The added credit gets stored on Vodafone's servers. Without an Indian number at the moment, you will probably find it impossible to create an online account. Therefore, it's best to ask a friend in India to top up your number for Rs. 500 in an Indian mobile shop on using their online account. That's a small price to pay, for a high probability of your number being active for your next visit to India. – Shumon Saha Aug 24 '16 at 7:58
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    I can confirm what @shumon is telling. I use the above technique from past two years in states and my India no is active – Mohith Shrivastava Aug 28 '16 at 11:37
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    If you use this method, during the period when 20rs is being withdrawn monthly, do you get access to network? i.e receive SMS and such? – T J Dec 22 '18 at 16:02
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    How about people in USA? and traveling to India every year or so? – BigDataScientist Jan 2 at 15:32
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I think you are misinterpreting what the Indian government regulation says. It does not require the carrier to deactivate your account after 90 days of inactivity, it only requires the carrier to not deactivate your account until it has been inactive for 90 days. What happens after 90 days is up to the carrier.

I use Airtel since it is the sole carrier with coverage where I have to visit, but my understanding is that with Vodafone you can keep the SIM alive by just keeping enough of a balance on the account to cover a Rs20/month charge while you are away. This Vodafone web page (see the note after "Step 3") seems to confirm my understanding. Leaving Rs200 in the account when you leave should cover you for a year.

That might not be the absolute cheapest way to keep the SIM alive but it is certainly the easiest and isn't particularly costly.

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I have very easy and cheapest solution for you , actually you needs to recharge your sim with minimum amount of rupees 20 at every 3 months online , doesn't matter where u are.this is how you can keep your number forever,

According the rule ,if there is no activity occur in 90 days your sim will be deactivated, as you recharge your number the system think you are active user. Make sure you recharge your number on time without fail....

When u recharge your number the system will generate a SMS to inform that U have been recharge successfully.

It will cost u about 90 rupees /year. It is not necessary to use your sim in India or anywhere in the world , simply keep your sim with u in your pocket, when u get to India just start to use your Sim .

Source>>>>>>>my personal experience (AIRTEL USER)

Sk- AUSTRALIA

  • Some posts indicate, once IR is enabled, Rs200 is good enough for rest of the year as it will deduct Rs20 per month. But won't we need to pay 99/month to keep International Roaming active ? which will come down to 1200+ to maintain the number. Let me know if i missing something here ! – ad tp Oct 28 '18 at 7:24
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Indian telcos have started deactivating SIM cards that aren't active (news coverage), and they no longer consider account balance for this, so all of the above answers are no longer valid.

To keep the SIM active, you have to keep recharging it to extend validity. Every network has cheap plans specifically for this. Airtel has a INR 23(€0.3) plan that extends validity by 28 days. Other networks like Vodafone have similar plans (INR 35 or €0.4).

You can recharge from websites like Paytm or Freecharge.

A more convenient way is to install the mobile app of your network (Airtel's app is called, well, MyAirtel) and login with your phone number. It shows you remaining validity and even sends a notification when it is about to expire, and you can recharge from the same app.

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I'm a Vodafone prepaid user and I am easily able to access the network in the whole of EU (not only Germany). I am a merchant navy officer and I keep on visiting different countries aroumd the world the whole year, yet I seldom find any country where the service provider as huge as Vodafone doesn't provide its services. The cheapest way to keep your number active is just by calling the customer support of the state circle from where you bought the sim. E.g. For me its +919839098390(UP- East circle). It's totally free of cost and you just need to hear the IVR respond "Hello, Welcome to Vodafone! We are happy to help you." and then disconnect the call. This simple step counts as "usage" and will preserve your number for the next 90 days even if you keep it out of your device. It is practically free of cost. This is how I keep my number alive while roaming internationally. sometimes , I also recharge with international roaming packs from the my Vodafone app in case i want to use internet or make calls but that's not necessary to keep ur number active. Vodafone provides international roaming for more than 150 countries so you don't need to worry for mobile network unless you visit a country such as Pakistan. Happy to help.

PS: you can manually connect to one of the service providers available in Germany.

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Don’t need to do anything just recharge with Rs 106 N u can get one year validity . So they can’t take any money from ur a/c after 90 days I use my same sim from last 10 years never got any Problem when I get India just top up with 106 .enter image description here

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I use my Indian Vodafone SIM here in UAE, It cost me few bucks.. buts that are ok The scenario is: I do Rs.222 recharge in every 3 months (from my SBI internet banking or you can say anyone in India to recharge for you) and I make just 1 call in every 3 months to any friend in India for 1 minute or less than 59 seconds which cost me Rs.140 per call - voila. .. done... don't make any call until next three months.. and no further recharges till then.

Received free miscalls from friends and family in India. Receives free sms from your friends and family in India or Banks OTP etc. keep your number active forever.

Note: Before completion of 3 months., you will get SMS from Vodafone to " Make a phone call to keep your number active" So., no need to keep a reminder when to recharge next.

hope it helps.

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