Why should I buy 3G mobile services?
3G stands for third generation wireless technology which allows users to enjoy multimedia services at high uplink and downlink speeds. With a 3G enabled phone, users can enjoy high speed mobile broadband, live TV, video streaming, video calling and much more.
3G transfers voice data (calls) and non-voice data (instant messages, emails) simultaneously and this makes 3G faster than 2G. Unlike 2G, 3G enables video calling, video conferencing and location based services. Sending SMS, emails, updating photos, downloads and other facilities on 2G are all there on 3G connection but the fast speed makes a world of difference. The internet speed on 3G is almost 20 times faster than 2G.
For high speeds, one must use High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) devices. HSPA refers to 3G networks that support High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) and High Speed Uplink Packet Access (HSUPA) for high download & upload speeds. It supports 3.6 Mbps-7.2 Mbps depending on the device. WCDMA or R99 devices, on the other hand, support maximum 384 Kbps of 3G speed. Thus, users should upgrade their devices from WCDMA to HSPA.
3G Price war in India
The ongoing 3G price war was started when India's largest telecom service provider, Bharti Airtel, slashed its 3G rates by 70%. Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Communications soon reacted by cutting the 3G tariffs by 90%. Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communications have tangled before in various marketing strategies & moves and thus, the greater price-cut by Reliance was anticipated.
On 25th June, Vodafone slashed its 3G rates by upto 80% and joined the league after Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications & Idea Cellular. Now, Vodafone 3G data plans start from just Rs.26 for 25MB.
Back in 2010, Indian government made over Rs.67000 crores from 3G auctions. As the operators have taken huge loans for the 3G licenses, schemes like this are efforts to recover the investment. Vodafone India Chief Commercial Officer, Sanjoy Mukerji says, "With the introduction of these plans, we aim at establishing a foundation for providing a 3G data plan for everyone, making it affordable to the masses in the country."
Another interesting initiative is Vodafone's free internet plan for Karbonn phone users. As a part of the recent tie-up between Karbonn Mobiles and Vodafone, Karbonn Titanium S5 users will enjoy Vodafone's 1GB 3G/2G/EDGE unlimited plan free for three months. Karbonn A12 users will get 500MB 3G/2G/EDGE plan free for two months if they are first time Vodafone 3G customers. All this will definitely increase Vodafone's customer base in India.
What 3G mobile services Vodafone offers?
To use 3G services, you need to make sure that your handset is 3G compatible and the phone settings are not set to '2G only'. If your handset is 3G compatible, it will show 'H' or '3G' on the top of the screen whenever you will be in a Vodafone 3G network area.
Vodafone offers all 3G mobile services that other operators offer and the prices are also reasonable. Details are given below.
Video calling- Instead of just audio, now you can make video calls wherein you will be able to see your friends while chatting. Even if your dear ones are far, you can just call and see them any time you want.
Charges: Rs 3/min for outgoing calls, Rs 4/min for outgoing calls on roaming and Rs 3/min for incoming calls on roaming.
Vodafone TV- With Vodafone's live TV application, you can watch Star Network, Times Now, Zoom, NDTV, National Geographic, Discovery and Cartoon Network anywhere & at any time. To download this application, SMS TV to 111.
Charges: Rs 7/day & Rs 150/month
Video blogging- You can video call 51212, follow the instructions you get and upload instant video updates on YouTube. Users can upload unlimited videos and share by messaging the video links to friends.
Charges: Rs 6/min
Video cafe- You can video call 51111 and get connected to video categories like comedy, films & spirituality. Every day, more videos are added. You get so many videos that you can't get bored.
Charges: Rs 6/min
How much data allowance should be sufficient?
Before you pick a 3G data plan, you should know if the data allowance the plan offers is sufficient for you. Else, if your data usage exceeds the usage allowed, you will have to pay extra charges which will unnecessarily make a hole in your pocket. Let's see what all you can do with the usual data allowances in 3G plans.
Less than 1GB- In less than 1GB, you can surf web, upload/download pictures, send emails and also use social networking sites.
Between 1GB & 5GB- If you are a medium data user and want to surf web, upload/download large pictures, download music, send emails, use social networking sites & cloud applications, choose a data plan allowing more than 1GB of usage.
More than 5GB- If you want to download software applications, movies and make video calls, choose a heave data plan.
Vodafone 3G prepaid plans
Last year's Nielson survey pointed that 97% of prepaid plan users are youngsters. Thus, Vodafone has come up with many pocket-friendly schemes for customers. Under the 'pay-as-you-go' system, rate has been reduced by 80% to mere 2 paise/10 KB and the additional charges for data usage while roaming are cancelled. The recharge of Rs 26 for 25MB is very cheap. The most popular 1GB pre-paid plan is also competitively priced at Rs 251.
Vodafone 3G postpaid plans
The postpaid plans for mobile phones start from Rs 100 for 300MB and go up to Rs 1,000 for 1000MB. The best postpaid plans here are Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 recharges which allow additional 500/1000 free SMS & minutes. The 1GB and 2GB plans will cost you almost same whether you take a Vodafone prepaid or postpaid plan. In the dongle/tablet plans, voice calls will be barred.
Unlimited postpaid plans- The unlimited postpaid plans are quite economical as they allow users to browse free once the data usage limit exceeds. One needs to pay only for surfing until the allowance limit and beyond that one can use unlimited data at the reduced speed of 64Kbps. In the unlimited plans with bill cap, one needs to pay for surfing until the internet bill reaches the cap/limit. Beyond that, one can surf for free at 64Kbps. The data bill will not exceed the bill cap.
Add-on plans- If you exhaust your data allowance and need to use more at 3G speeds, you can choose any of the add-on plans given below. These add-on plans can't be renewed and they expire with bill cycle.
Vodafone vs Competition
On the basis of customer feedback, I can say that Airtel is the best 3G network provider in country. Surprisingly, Idea is not the same what it used to be some years back. With low internet speed & frequent server problems, it has lost its goodwill. Except for Reliance, the customer support provided by all operators is satisfying. Customers reported bad experiences of incorrect plan activation, incorrect bills and unprofessional customer care executives. The 1GB plan is the most popular plan among users. The monthly tariff for standard 1GB plan is almost same everywhere except for Aircel. Aircel has best plans for budget users. It also offers many cheap mini plans and student packs. On the other hand, Vodafone plans are most expensive if compared with the 3G data plans offered by other operators. Since past few months, Vodafone has been slashing its 3G rates but yet there are better options available in the market.
Read Reliance 3G mobile data plans for pre-paid and post-paid users in India