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Airtel 3G plans

Bharti airtel had five lakh 3G mobile subscribers within seven days of launching third generation telephony services(3G), and that too in just five cities. Now it has over two million 3G subscribers (as of April 6) in 34 cities and towns across India including Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, Coimbatore, Mysore, Manipal, Udupi, Jaipur, Delhi NCR, Hubli, Patna, Hyderabad, Agra, Dehradun, Meerut and West Bengal.

What makes it click with users? Here is an analysis of the operator's 3G tariff plans:

Airtel has a range of tariff plans for 3G customers, starting with a Rs 11 plan which gives 10 MB of usage for a day. The plans go up to Rs 750 for 2 GB data over 30 days.

But the sad part is that there are no real unlimited plans to choose from. As an alternative, the teleco is offering a Rs 675 plan, in which you get 1.25 GB data at full 3G speed, consumable over 30 days. Once you have consumed that, your access speed will drop to 20 Kbps and you will be charged 1 paisa for every 100KB till you reach a bill of Rs 2,000.

There are no charges beyond that. But then, why would you choose to pay Rs 2,000 when you can get 2GB of data at 2G speeds for just Rs 99, which makes it really unlimited as, at that speed, you technically cannot download any more.

So it is better to take the Rs 750 plan for 3G and Rs 99 plan for 2G. This way you get unlimited data at Rs 849, albeit at a slower speed. But this way you can switch to 2G for tasks that do not require 3G speeds, such as A-GPS and mobile banking, and switch to 3G when trying to listen to music, watching video etc.

For occasional users, plans start at Rs 11 for 10MB for a day, Rs 65 for 65MB for three days, and Rs 49 for 30 minutes of usage for a day.

There are also standard plans that are valid for 30 days: Rs 99 for 100MB, Rs 200 for 250MB, Rs 450 for 600MB and Rs 750 for 2GB.

If you do not want to pay the one time charge, there is a 'Pay as You Go' plan, which costs 30 paise for 20KB download. You can reduce this rate by paying Rs 20 for a 30 day package, which amounts to 15 paise for 20KB download.

Video calling is also available at 5 paise per second for both local and STD.

If we analyse the competition, Airtel doesn't have the cheapest plans, but as the company puts it, the focus is on network quality and not price.

For instance, Tata Docomo offers 10 paise per 10KB without any pack. Even in monthly packs, it offers double the data for every Rupee, like for Rs 200 you get 500MB (with additional usage charged at 1 paisa per MB). It also offers unlimited plans starting at Rs 1,000.

Similarly, Vodafone also charges 10 paise for 10KB but its plans are similar to Airtel's. Vodafone charges Rs 3 for a minute of video calling.

BSNL is surely the cheapest as far as 3G tariffs are concerned. It offers 10 KB for just 0.02 paise, and for Rs 100 you get 250MB. Higher priced plans are also available and are very cheap. There are several promotional plans which make BSNL 3G extremely cheap. MTNL has similar plans too.

All the other operators have plans that are more or less similar to Airtel's. Unfortunately, with 3G you do not have multiple operators to choose from just yet.

All the tariff plans mentioned are of Delhi, except where the operator doesn't operate in Delhi. However, plans across the country are similar.

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