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.

  1. Shaunak says

    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)

  2. Niranjan says

    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.

    1. SM says

      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.

  3. […] 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 […]

  4. dev says

    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

  5. Dhananjay says

    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

    1. Sobh singh says

      if you pay more yes you can use 3g. i suggest using postpaid. postpaid is cheaper

  6. intruder says

    My mobile, sony xperia, with idea sim, pours the data at 700kpbs….

    1. S M says

      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.

      1. Sobh singh says

        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

  7. Anandu says

    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).

  8. […] 2012 when 3G actually started in most part of the countries. Here is our previous coverage for 2012 and […]



    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.

  10. DIP says

    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

  11. kathic says

    my point aircel is the best one,,i use more than year..

  12. VK says


    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??

  13. jatin ch. Deka says

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

  14. Syed Mohammed Tauseef says

    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

  16. rhitu says

    outdated, list…. please provide updates

  17. sadek says

    Hello, Can you update the list so that we can get latest rates.

  18. srinivas says

    Nice article, I use aircel 3g i think it is the best in price point of view

  19. narendra says

    opted airtel in place of BSNL but found BSNL 2G runs faster than 3G airtel

  20. sajid says

    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

  21. madhur nikam says

    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

    1. kuldeep says

      3g airtel serves is best servis

    2. anoop says

      thanks madhur 4 such a valuable information.

  22. Shashank says

    aircel is the best of all. all are just like jokes. do not use them. i recommend you to use aircel 3g

  23. Amlan Dutta says

    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!

    1. Raghunath Pagare says

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

    2. Amlan Dutta says

      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 )!

    3. ????? ?????? ??????? says

      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.

  24. Raghunath Pagare says

    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!

  25. Shashi says

    Aircel is best in class :)

  26. yastr says

    aircel among all is cheapest and best

    1. Sudip Pal says

      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.

      1. Sobh singh says

        its cheap but definitely not the best. think about it. its cheap because its not the best

  27. Sandeep Sahasrabuddhe says

    3g video calling not meet.

  28. DibyaJyoti Sonowal says

    Airtel gives me a peak of 350 kb/sec (about 4mbps) at night.

  29. Dinesh More says

    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.

    1. Tushar says

      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….

    2. Faisal Ozair says

      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

    3. Mitesh Bhardwaj says

      check ur phone specifications…and how much 3g network in ur area

    4. Yugandhar says

      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.

  30. joy says

    Nobody is cheaper than Aircel 3G data plan which is not shown in this list.

  31. Sarah says

    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/

    1. manoj says

      Dear sarah 350 kbps is not about to 4mbps….

  32. abhay says

    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 &

  33. Vijay Rana says

    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.

    1. Mangesh Kumar says

      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.

      1. Sobh singh says

        whats the point without 3g. i want 4G LTE. reliance needs to launch 4G LTE Soon! in every city

    2. Akhilesh Aryendu says

      Allahabadi ho gaya Aap Allahabd men shikhsa lekar. kabhee delhi Aayen to…

    3. ramesh swami says

      I use bsnl wireless net, oh god it is very slow and lazy , may god help bsnl user to keep patience

      1. Sobh singh says

        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!!

    4. Ranjan says

      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.

  34. Dibyasundar Nayak says

    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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