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Last updated: February 25, 2015 at 10:49 am

3G Data Rate Comparison: Airtel vs Vodafone vs Idea vs Reliance

Update: We have published a new article comparing the 3G Data plans of various mobile operators for 2014

In the last few months, mobile service providers in India have been aggressively slashing their 3G rates to get India Inc. craving for 3G speeds. Bharti Airtel began the price war by slashing its 3G rates by 70%. Reliance was soon to follow with a reduction of up to 90%. Vodafone later announced a decrease of up to 80% in its own 3G rates and so did Idea Cellular.

Indian youth mobile users are known to opt for prepaid over postpaid. Last year, a Nielson survey pointed out that 97% of them used prepaid mobile connections. In this post also, we take a look at usage based prepaid 3G tariffs of some of India’s leading mobile service providers.

Please note that the below comparison is based on 3G rates of Airtel, Vodafone, Idea and Reliance for the Mumbai circle; and have been sourced from their respective websites.

Idea Cellular 3G pricing

IDEA 3G rates

Idea Cellular’s Prepaid Usage based 3G plans start from Rs. 103 for 300 MB and go up to Rs. 2,500 for 10 GB. All these plans come with a validity period varying from 30, 60 to 90 days and usage over and above the allotted data limit is charged at 2ps per 10 KB which is approximately Rs. 2 per MB.

The highlight of Idea’s 3G tariff plan is the Rs. 950 recharge. Valid for 30 days, it offers 3G access up to 6 GB following which unlimited usage is restricted to 128 kbps.

See the entire Idea 3G prepaid Rates

Vodafone 3G pricing

Vodafone 3G rates

Vodafone’s prepaid 3G plans seem to be very competitively priced and with a tiny recharge of Rs. 26 for 25 MB valid for 24 hours, there is little more that budget ZooZoo users could ask for. 30 day validity plans begin with Rs. 102 for 300 MB and go up to Rs. 1,250 for 5 GB and Rs. 1,501 for 10 GB. Additionally, Vodafone also offers its customers options of recharging for Rs. 502 and Rs. 1002 which come with additional 500/1000 local and STD minutes along with 500/1000 free local and national SMS.

Almost all the plans carry a charge of Rs. 2p per 10 KB once usage limit has been exceeded.

See the entire Vodafone 3G prepaid Rates

Airtel 3G pricing

Airtel 3G pricing

Airtel has a variety of flexible 3G plans including a tariff termed as the ‘Sachet’ plan type under which 30 mins of 3G accessibility can be availed for Rs. 13. Under the same type, a very exciting budget prepaid tariff option is Rs. 41 for 150 MB which is valid for 7 days.

Airtel’s ‘Standard’ prepaid 3G plans vary from Rs. 101 for 300 MB to Rs. 750 for 4 GB and the ‘High Value’ plans offer 10 GB for Rs. 1,500. Most plans have a validity period of 30 days however unlike Vodafone and Idea Cellular, Airtel’s prepaid packs carry a 3p per 10 KB charge on excess usage instead of 2p.

See Airtel’s full 3G rate Card

Reliance 3G pricing

reliance 3G rates

Similar to Airtel’s Sachet plan, Reliance 3G tariffs also offer a low value day pack of Rs. 10 for Rs. 30 MB, valid for 24 hours. Starting from Rs. 97 for 300 MB to Rs. 448 for 2 GB, Reliance’s 3G plans which carry a validity of 30 days are aggressively priced but lack high value options beyond 2 GB. Like Airtel, excess usage beyond allocated data limit is charged at 3p per 10 KB.

View Full Reliance 3G Rate Card

Key highlights

  1. Idea’s Unlimited plan is a value packed option as it offers 3G speeds up to 6 GB followed by an unlimited access at 129 kbps for Rs. 950 for a 30 day period. There is no charge per KB up to the expiry of the 30 day period. This plan is a top pick for users with high usage who wouldn’t mind slower speeds after 6 GB usage.
  2. Airtel and Reliance prepaid 3G plans carry a charge of 3p per 10 KB on excess usage as compared to 2p levied by Vodafone and Idea Cellular, about 50% more.
  3. Airtel and Reliance 3G users can avail prepaid access to super budget low value plans of Rs. 13 and Rs. 10 respectively. On these plans, Airtel offers 30 mins of 3G access while Reliance offers 30 MB. Both these are top picks for users who want a one-off 3G access for a day.
  4. Prepaid tariff plans for Reliance 3G suggest that there is lack of flexibility for high end prepaid users who are likely to go beyond 2GB per month.
  5. Idea offers maximum flexibility in terms of validity period. Two of its usage based plans offer 60 day validity as opposed to the normal 30 day period.

Overall, the 4 leading mobile service providers have similarly priced 3G plans. This leads us to believe that for the average Indian 3G user, connectivity and coverage area should be more important benchmarks than a difference of a few rupees.

"3G Data Rate Comparison: Airtel vs Vodafone vs Idea vs Reliance", 5 out of 5 based on 1 ratings.


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  • I have used all and every network is just high speed charging to clients. Pathetic and frustrating. The cellular services were faster when using mobile data of the yester years with push notifications. these 3G services cause me heartburn (and pocket fire)

  • 3g and 4g in india is a joke. I’ve lived in the UK and Germany and Belgium and the Internet packs there are cheap. I used to get 200 min (12000 seconds), 100 texts and unlimited (30 gb) 3g in a bundle for Rs. 1500 per month on a prepaid basis. And 3g over there offers consistent speeds of 3-4 mbps, because ISPs over there are bound by strict rules. In India, 3g is just a marketing gimmick and just another way to increase the mobile networks sale by offering meagre amounts of Internet usage. Also, mobile operators in India must be refusing to invest in capital equipment (required for larger data transmission) for providing greater Internet speeds since that means loss of reserves without any tax benefits. The mobile operators and the government is just ripping large holes in the customers pockets by providing the bare minimum network usages and Internet speeds because they know that the demand exists and there is no alternative. The same goes with the government still refusing to remove the “roaming” feature that it promised to remove by 2015, because that would mean a significant reduction in the mobile operators income. On a UK simcard, you can travel to any country in the EU and still get 3g roaming for a small daily fee (around Rs. 100 for 50 mb, which is a lot of data usage for IM). The Indian citizens need to know what’s out there, what true 3g is before the mobile operators launch their new act of 4g.

    • Really, 3G in Germany is Cheap????????? Here 5Gb data cost me around 25 euro and it is just the data. Which network did you use in Germany? O2, T-Mobile??????? All are costly when it comes to data. The only country which gives truly unlimited data with reasonable cost is USA and may be Japan and south Korea but never been there. If you consider only cost…I think reliance Jio is the cheapest right now in the world. I agree with you, in India these 2G, 3G, 4G are just numbers and the real speed is totally out of the world. On the other hand Indian telecom industry is just developing and it gonna take 10-20 years more to reach it to a level of customer satisfaction, right now it is a total mess. Lived in USA for 15 years and living in Germany for 3 years.

  • […] did a review of the data rates last year, but the rates have changed drastically since, and so we decided to update it with the latest 3G […]

  • Sir ye telecom company vale to duniyako lut rahe hai ya miljulkar logoko gumrah kar rah hai dhekho internet ke plan kaha par hai …ispe kuch to vichar karna hoga telecom company valo ko

  • Actully i am using 2g aircel sim within 2 year, but i dont update its 3g , kya mai 3g network use kar sakta hu kya is sim pe

    • I watch a lot of video content on my tablet. Be it youtube, streaming tv via moneycontrol or other apps. Reliance 3G is the best option i found. At Rs 73 to 90 (depending on circle) you get 1gb for 10 days. Itadds up to 73×4 for me every month for an available bandwidth of 3gb every month. Speeds are ok to good depending on time of day. So check it out yourself.

      • I agree! reliance is very good! they will be even better once the launch 4G LTE. but i suggest you using postpaid. i use postpaid and get double the data for that price

  • I am using idea and I get more than 5.36 Mbps at very low signal. Its absolutely wonderful. And my friend is using airtel and he get around 4 Mbps speed at high signal and he is going to change to any other network. This is in Kollam (Kerala).

  • [Updated] 3G Data Plans Comparison 2014: Idea vs Vodafone vs Airtel vs Reliance Vs Tata Docomo Vs Aircel says:

    […] 2012 when 3G actually started in most part of the countries. Here is our previous coverage for 2012 and […]

  • TN 3G CIRCLE & OPERATORS AirTel 3G is avail in TN Circle. But the Price is heavy. Rs255 for 1GB The 3G network of airtel is too poor in even in main areas. 3G Speed upto 7.2MBPS But airtel 3G speed only upto 2MBPS. I think that it is waste of money Vodafone 3G is Avail in TN Circle. Price Rs.249 1GB The 3G network of Vodafone is good compared to airtel. 3G Speed upto 7.2MBPS Vodafone 3G MAX GOOD SPEED = 4 – 5MBPS. I think that it is value for money. AirCel 3G is Avail in TN Circle. Price Rs.198 (Now 128) 1GB The 3G network of aircel is nearly 1mbps. 3G Speed upto 7.2MBPS It’s good for stong network. But speed is low. But it’s okay for money. AirTel can bring down his price & can touch to a top speed like VFone. Vodafone is Good compared to other 3G Operators. AirCel is Value for Money. But Sometime 3G is Likely Very Slow.

  • iidea 3G is shit. i am using unlimited 655 plan after using 3GB of data. it gives a piss. not able to open fb. F**king Looters

  • Hello, I need to buy SIM with 3G connection for my tablet. I am sort of confused which company should i go for…..any true advise??

  • i can never think of other mobile operator except aircel for 3g. It is the cheapest and the best.

  • I have been using Aircel 3G for a year now… And I must say, it is fabulous… No other operator provides 3G at so lower rates… I use a combo of 3G and sms… Works for me very well

  • aircel is best & cheap with 7 rs recharges you could get 50 mb of 3g data & unlimited 2g data for 24 hours, with 198 rs rechagre you will get 1 gb of 3G data & unlimited data 2g data for 30 days

  • i am using mtnl 3g the peak speed is 7.2 mbpy not mbps no need to take unlimited plan 7.2 mbpy(mega byte per year) will run for ever i am downloading an mp3 song from songs.pk since last 12 days

  • the 3g providers are right , mbps and mb /ps are two different things one 1s mega bits per second and the other is mega bytes per second they promise u to give u speed in mega bits not in bytes n what we downlload comes in mega bytes that is why the speed lowers as there is a big difference in both the things

  • reliance 3g is amazing , no comparision to the shit 2g speed , although the stick commits to 21 MBPS , i get around 4mbps download and 1 mbpsupload speed which is still freaking fast!

    • dr. Amlan, Pl ascertain download mbps speed actually in laptop read by Int. Explorer and shown by stick window. RA Pagare

    • i have used more reiable speedtest.net ,checked across internet explorer ,mozilla,chrome (not checked safari) ,i was using airtel earlier ,post that MTS as also reliance 2g ,recently shifted to the 21MBPS reliance 3g ,thereotically one should get 1/7 the download speed ,so it will become aound 3 MBPS and speedtest shows it around 2.7-2.9 mbps (download ) andupload of 1.3 MBPS ,i can see a starking difference in 2g and 3g speeds ,when i download youtube vids ,it takes place in seconds earlier it took 7-8 minutes !But one thing ,the area should have reliance towers ……i mean same datacard in nashik would be useless since there is no reliance 3g towers there (i experienced it )!

    • Amlan Dutta You can change the settings to 2g in the region where reliance 3g is not available.I have done it while traveling to my hometown.

  • RA Pagare Pl compare download speeds of Service provider! Seen that the actual speed shown by computer is around 10 to 20 kbps but the in operators module it is 100-144kbps for 2G gprs. Similar things may be ascertained by respected user!

    • I have been using 3G in aircel for some times. it is cheapest so far my knowledge goes. but recently I am experiencing very slow speed in the connection. So the cost is not in terms of money but the amount of time i have to devote to the mobile is huge and the dissatisfaction level is also great.

  • airtel said 3g speed is 7mbps, but I never experience that much speed. when I connect to my laptop it shows 465 kbps speed. and when I download something it downloads with less than 25 kbps. they take money of 3g and providing service of 2g or g.

    • Speed is depend on your mobile not on your sim.If you are using Idea in Samsung Galaxy s3.it’s minimum speed will 14.4 mbps and if you are using local mobile,it’s your fault….

    • Dear All, The ground for testing different speeds must be same, so i have standardized the " Actual Download Speed". In Case of Data card, mobile etc. device using SIM card the actual download speed is 1/10th of the connection speed. 5.2 Mbps means around 520 Kbps actual download speed. In case of DSL Cable connection the Actual download speed is 1/4th of connection speed. 128 kbps connection will mean 32 kbps actual download speed. In either case the " Actual Download Speed" is what customer gets and on this basis a customer is charged. You will get the highest " Actual download speed " only in case when the internet server can spare enough speed for you.. e.g. downloading from java site or torrent with high seed to peer ratio. And you WON'T get full speed from 4shared.com or torrent with low seed to peer ratio. With Regards Faisal Ozair

    • Airtel 3G is a cheat..it is not all a 3G when you download you only get 15 to 20Kbps. I don’t know who calls it 3G.

  • I agree not many operators are giving true 3G speed. I used reliance 3g, as the price were lower but their speed sucks so I switched to Airtel 3G but airtel is quite expensive. This 3G speed comparison may help you http://ub5.org/3g-speed-comparison-in-india/

  • I think all of four company should be look @ their services, As such all time their 2G signal only available, I am using this time Reliance 3G service &

  • Sorry friends, Whatever they might charge, nobody, yes nobody is giving true 3G speed. My experience of Vodafone, Reliance and Airtel was really very fustrating. Travelling from Londo I was based in Delhi and none of them worked properly once I travelled beyond Ghaziabad.

    • I have Reliance without 3G and it's till this moment working good. In Calcutta also I found it good. Actually 3-G is pomp & show so that I prefered without 3-G card. Reliance Or Tata DoCoMo ar the best without 3-G.

      • bsnl is not a private company thats why their service and customer care SUCKS ASS!! use other like reliance or airtel they have the best service and best customer care team!!

    • Yes, That’s because 3G network is available only in city area. They have not provided 3G coverage outside city limits. So going out of city means sticking with 2G network.

  • Why haven't you compared these rates with Aircel who have the cheapest rate and most importantly finished the difference between 2G-3G pack? (I feel that's the best step to influence more customers to use 3G).

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