Different country, same story – My heroic GPRS enablement saga

So here I am in the UK, supposedly one of the most advanced mobile content markets in the world. I ordered myself an O2 contract phone (Nokia 6230i) online, and was assured that to activate GPRS all I needed to do was call the helpline and ask them to activate it.

As soon as I got my phone last Wednesday, I called O2’s helpline and asked for my GPRS to be activated. The woman at the call centre took down my phone number and a few other details and said that I would receive an SMS with the settings for GPRS. Thank you very much, simple enough! After waiting for an hour and no SMS in sight, I called again and went through the same process. Still no SMS. Finally, I decided to check the O2 website and found a simple form which needed to fill out to get the settings on my phone. As soon as I filled in the form and hit submit, the much awaited SMS finally arrived. Great going I thought, and opened the SMS and went though the instructions to instal the settings on my phone. Everything went smoothly and the settings were indeed installed. Sadly though, when I tried to access O2’s home site, I was told that GPRS was not available for this connection.

Many calls to customer support followed, bulky documents were emailed to me and many experiments were made. GPRS remained elusive still. Completely frustrated by now, I walked into an O2 store today hoping my problem will be solved. Two store assistants came by one after the other and simply said that I need to talk to their customer support. They were kind enough to call customer support and hand the receiver to me. Thrice I was informed that I had got through to the wrong department and was transfered to some other call centre agent. As I was getting ready to leave and throw my phone into the Thames, a senior person, presumably the store manager walked upto me and asked if he could help. I wanted to say, “most definitely, please show me the way to the river”, but instead explained my problem to him. He said “please come with me sir”, much like a police inspector leading you to detention room and called up a number from his phone, which I suspect was a hotline to the GPRS god. A 30 second conversation followed during which he gave my phone number to the GPRS god and I was told that GPRS was now active and handed back my phone with a flourish. In a feverish daze I fumbled and clicked on the “web” button on my phone and MAGIC, there it was ,the O2 Active home page!!!

What on earth is going on? Why can’t Operators/ handset vendors preconfigure phone for internet access? Especially given that O2 and other operators in the UK charge per kb of data usage and not a monthly data subscription like other markets. The next time I’m asked what needs to be done to increase mobile content revenue revenue, I’m just going to grab the fellows phone and throw it into the river!

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About Deepak
Venture Capital and M&A advisor, Entrepreneur, Startup enthusiast..

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