The Indian telecommunication market is one of the biggest in the world and is rapidly expanding. The current market leader is Airtel, which provides a large broadband network. Still, other competitors are challenging Airtels' market position. Competitors include Reliance Telecommunications, Tata Teleservices, Vodafone and Virgin Mobile.
Dialing codes in India
To make calls within the same city in India you only need to dial the respective phone number. If you want to make calls to different regions in India you need to dial a special prefix, the so-called Subscriber Trunk Dialing (STD). STD's can be found at http://www.bsnl.co.in/stdsearch.php.
For international calls from India to abroad, you need to dial 00 followed by the country code of the country you’re calling.
To call India from abroad you must first dial India's country code, 0091.
Emergency numbers in India
In case of emergency you should call the most appropriate of the three emergency numbers.
100 – police
101 – fire department
102 – ambulance
However, emergency services are not very reliable in India. Ambulances, for example, can easily take up to several hours to arrive. Whenever possible you should try and go to a (private!) hospital yourself.
Also keep in mind that police officers in India have a bad reputation. They are said to be rude, corrupt and incompetent. Although this should not be generalized and certainly cannot be proven, you had better take care to be very polite when dealing with police.
Public pay phones in India
There are many public pay phones in India, and they operate using either cash or phone cards. Telephone cards can be bought at corner shops and electronic stores.
Besides public pay phones you will find many telephone cafés in India. They are referred to as Public Call Offices (PCO) and offer local, national and international call service. Some of them offer additional fax and Internet services. Their charges differ depending on the type of call (national, international) and the time of the call. Calling between 10pm and 8am and on weekends is usually cheapest. PCOs are a good option for international calls as many of them use Voice-over-IP (VoIP) and, therefore, are comparatively inexpensive.
International calls from India
If you only plan to stay in India for a short period of time you should use international calling cards. You can either order them at home before your trip or simply wait and buy them in India. Usually these cards are charged up with a specified amount of money and are only valid for a specific country.
If you have Internet access, Voice-over-IP (VoIP) calls are an inexpensive option for overseas communication. Many providers in India offer VoIP products. Be aware, however, that connectivity problems are common and you might not be able to make or receive calls for hours.
Another web-based method of making international calls is Skype. Through Skype, you can make free calls to other Skype users anywhere in the world. To call regular phones, however, you will have to pay per minute. Still, these rates are very low compared to those offered for regular calls or on international calling cards.