Idea Cellular, which launched 3G services in the last week of March, has become the latest operator to do so. Since it became the last major operator to launch third generation telephony services in the country, the teleco was expected to come up with some competitive tariff plans.
Here we have analysed Idea's 3G tariffs to decide how competitive they are.
For the occasional user Idea has two sachet plans: Rs 7 for 10 MB data; and Rs 51 for 50 MB, which is a little weird since the cost per MB of data normally goes down with larger packs. However, Idea is slightly cheaper than Airtel which offers 10 MB for Rs 11, but as you go higher its packages are similar to Idea's.
Data is charged at 10 paise per 10 KB beyond free usage. This is the same as what RCom and Tata Docomo charge, but is cheaper than Airtel, which charges 30 paise for 20 KB.
Usage based plans are also being offered by Idea and they are at par with similar plans offered by other operators, if not cheaper. Prepaid recharge options start at Rs 103 for 100 MB and go up to Rs 1,750 for 5 GB of data, which is a good option for heavy users. In between these two plans are five others.
For post paid users, plans start at Rs 100 for 100 MB and go up to Rs 750 for 2 GB; there are four options in between.
Time based plans that charge based on minutes of use are also on offer. Idea offers 30 minutes for Rs 46; for Rs 79 you get 60 minutes; and for Rs 148 you get 2 hours. Usage beyond these limits will be charged at Rs 3 per minute.
For users of dongles (data cards) there are three post and pre paid plans each. These are Rs 599 for 1 GB of data; Rs 750 for 2 GB; and Rs 1,750 for 5 GB. Extra usage is charged at 5 paise per 10 KB.
Idea's dongle plans are better than those offered by most other operators. However, Tata Docomo is the only operator that has unlimited data plans.
Data roaming is also available but only in towns where Idea offers 3G services. Roaming charges for voice are the same as they are on 2G. Data tariffs for post paid subscribers are the same as on the home network, while prepaid users are charged 10 paise per 10 KB.
Idea offers a maximum speed of 21 Mbps on its 3G network, which is standard for the rest of the industry as well.
Idea Cellular's plans come as a mixed bag. While dongle tariffs are among the most attractive on offer, Idea's rates for mobile users are at best similar to other operators' plans.
Idea Cellular has 3G spectrum in 11 circles, which include Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh (E), Uttar Pradesh (W), Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu & Kashmir.
So far Idea operates its 3G network in eight of these circles. Except Kerala, it offers 3G services in 29 cities across seven circles. In Kerala its 3G services are available in almost every part of the state. So we can safely recommend Idea Cellular 3G for Kerala customers.
However, Idea is yet to launch services in Jammu & Kashmir and Punjab. One city each in Himachal, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat is covered by Idea 3G so far.