by May 2, 2011 0 comments



3G services and MNP are amongst the recent trends in mobile industry and also form the core of the tussle amongst operators, as they try to beat each other with better 3G plans, higher Internet speed, lower prices and multiple data offerings.

Availability

Airtel 3G services can be activated on your current SIM card, if your handset is 3G compatible. If you don’t have an Airtel SIM, you can buy a 2G SIM from any Airtel retail outlet or a local vendor and upgrade it to 3G.

Ease of accessibility

Snapshot
Cost of 3G Prepaid SIM: Rs 49
Activation Charge : Rs 43

Activation Timet: 4-24 hours

Acquiring a 3G SIM hardly involves anything different from acquiring a 2G SIM, which we all use. One requires certain documents as proof of identification, and two passport size photos. A new 3G SIM card can be bought for Rs. 110 with 92 rupees talk time on it, and activates within 4 hours. However, this applies only to non-Airtel users and those who are using Airtel 2G can get it upgraded without changing their mobile number, free of cost.

Value added services

Airtel’s value-added services include video calling, mobile TV and Airtel App Central. Video calling allows face-to-face conversation on your mobile handset and supports inter-operator video calls as well. Quality of video calls is a little pixelated at both ends, otherwise it is mostly good. With Mobile TV you can watch your TV channels on your phone at Rs. 40 for 20 min per week. All you have to do is download the 3G mobile TV application on your phone. The App Central gives you access via 3G, WiFi or GPRS to more than 10,000 apps available on Airtel app store such as Smartpilot, Mingle 2.0, IBN Live and many more.

Performance

When Airtel 3G was taken through our test processes on an Android-based HTC Desire, it registered a download/upload speed of 4.7/0.7 Mbps in Gurgaon and a download/upload speed of 5/0.25 Mbps in Mumbai. This was done during morning hours, somewhere around 9 to 10 AM. During afternoon, the download/upload speed in Gurgaon fell a little with 4.23/0.7 Mbps, while in Mumbai it stayed the same at 5/0.25 Mbps. In the evening the bandwidth improved with 4.78/0.85 Mbps in Gurgaon and remained static in Mumbai at 5/0.1 Mbps. Overall, maximum 3G speed in Gurgaon at any point of time is 4.78 and 5 Mbps in Mumbai, which is what they have been claiming so far. However, we also tested Airtel 3G on Symbian-based Nokia E72. The results were considerably half of what one will get on an Android phone. At 9 in the morning, in Gurgaon, it managed only 1 Mbps, whereas in Mumbai it is 2Mbps. In the afternoon it fell in Gurgaon to 0.9 Mbps and improved with 2.2 Mbps in Mumbai. In the evening, Gurgaon saw a rise of 1.1 Mbps and in Mumbai it reverted back to its earlier 2 Mbps. On the whole, in Gurgaon the average speed is 1 Mbps and in Mumbai it is 2 Mbps. Nevertheless, in contrast with other service providers, Airtel has the best bandwidth in 3G so far with Vodafone tailing it.

Best data plans

An outgoing video call costs 5p/sec and Live TV comes for Rs. 40 for 20 minutes per week for all channels. An Airtel 3G SIM comes for 49 rupees and you pay Rs 43 for activation. The standard plan, on both prepaid and postpaid, starts at Rs.99 with 100 MB data and goes upto Rs 750 with 2 GB data. It is valid for a month and on exceeding the stipulated data, browsing charges of 30p/20kb will be charged. The FlexiShield plan is for Rs. 675 with 1.25 GB data, VBC of 1p/100KB upto a max shield (amount) of Rs 2000. After surpassing the shield value, enjoy free unlimited browsing at 20Kbps speed for 30 days.

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