Dharmalaya FAQ for Visitors & Volunteers > About Dharmalaya > What's the situation with mobile phones and Internet access at Dharmalaya/in Bir?
In general, one can count on mobile phones and Internet access in rural India to work about 3/4 of the time, give or take (though sometimes one can also count on it to stop working just when you most want it to work).
Internet shops: In the town of Bir, there are several internet shops with (usually) decent DSL connections, that generally work (unless the electricity is out).
Smartphones: If you have a GSM mobile phone with internet access capability (e.g. iPhone, Android phones, etc.), you can accessing the Internet using mobile data services. All of the major carriers offer 2G data (slow, but generally fine for email and basic web browsing) and more of them (e.g. IDEA, Airtel) are starting to provide 3G data in our area (depending on where you stand!). Recently, we are getting good reports about Jio’s 4G service. You may also be able to tether your laptop to your smartphone if your mobile phone supports it.
Buying a SIM card: If you don’t already have an Indian SIM card, you can buy one. For this, you will need your ID/passport (and often a photocopy of it) as well as a passport-sized photo (with white background, not coloured). Sometimes they will also ask for proof of your address in India. You could pick up a SIM in Delhi, but then you’d be roaming in Himachal Pradesh (more expensive), so it’s best to wait until you’re in HP to get a SIM. They’re available in Bir itself and very inexpensive.
At Dharmalaya Institute: We do have electricity on the Dharmalaya campus, which you can use to recharge you rmobile phone or tablet (bring your own charger). Note that signal strength varies by carrier: Airtel, Reliance, IDEA, and BSNL tend to have the best signal here (though far from perfect).
So, in summary, if you have an Indian SIM card (or a foreign SIM card with an international roaming plan), you can make mobile phone calls and access the Internet (much of the time, with some interruptions in service) from some parts of the Dharmalaya campus. If and when you have a need for a faster connection, you can go into town to use one of the net cafés in Bir Tibetan Colony. We expect to have our own wireless Internet access for guests at some point in the future, but for now you’ll need a smartphone or you’ll need to walk/ride into town for your Net fix.
Last updated on 15 Dec, 2016 by Dharmalaya Institute