3G Services in India

Hindustan Times today in the morning contained an article about low penetration rate of 3G services (in business edition, New Delhi) and cited ignorance, less usage of smart phones and limited knowledge of 3G services as one of the major factors for low usage of 3G services. Which I beg to differ, I think there are several other reasons; most of them are due to errors committed by the India mobile operators themselves.

The reasons which I think are the main reasons for low penetration rate of 3G services are as follows

The first and foremost problem is the high tariff charges of 3G services, I know this is the only way to recover their investments made in 3G services (India). I guess it was the overestimation done by the analysts which were hired by the mobile phone operators. Personally I would not like to shell out Rs 100 for a free usage of 200 MB (are you kidding, 200 MB is nothing boss) and later on charged some paisa per MB. When we are speaking of 3G means we have left the days behind when our usage was limited to MB’s or KB’s.

Second I think is the complexities involved in the tariff plans itself, except few sites (please check with your operator for such sites) browsing other sites is also considered as download (technically you are downloading a site on to your browser to view it).

Third, the most import one, FUP (Fair usage policy) the plan would bear the name of Unlimited but with a little star on it. Which means the plan is unlimited till some specified limit (differs from operator to operator) there after the mobile operator would charge above FUP usage. I still can’t get the rationale behind calling a plan unlimited which has usage restrictions on it (it happens mostly in India).

Fourth comes the turn of coverage, although Indian mobile operators as per their internal spectrum sharing agreement gives user a PAN India 3G coverage, still there are many complaints regarding no or weak 3G signals in major cities.

Fifth the wrong publicity done by the operators, all of them claimed a maximum speed of 21.1 MBPS but in real they are struggling to give speeds at 3 to 4 MBPS. Whenever a user complains they have all excuses ready with them, one would say “you are out of coverage area”, the other would say “you connection needs to be checked”, whereas others would say “3 to 4 MBPS it’s a good speed”.

Sixth comes the billing, many operators have bundled their packages, either the net connection has to come with a new telephone connection (the monthly plan differs from operator to operator) or will come with a security software along with it, which in turn raises the monthly tariff, which the consumer is unaware of and thinks he or she is being cheated by the mobile operator.

If I speak of an overall picture, I think the Government companies are far better than the Indian private mobile operators. I still remember the six month 3G data plan offered by MTNL is one of the most popular 3G plan in Delhi. One the other hand no such plans ever came from any of the Indian private mobile operators. It was the state owned companies which introduced the Indian Netizens to speeds ranging from 256 KBPS (now 512 KBPS is minimum) to 10 MBPS otherwise we still use to shell out Rs 1000 for a 128 KBPS line to lame operators like Sify, Hathway or spectra mind (I don’t how they are doing now).

As per the article TATA DOCOMO will start educating their consumers about the 3G services and plans, my humble request to them is to operate the services in true spirit do not complicate your tariff plans or usage plans. The citizens who are using these services are very much aware of what 3G is and what are the benefits of 3G services are.

Now that we have already come to know that 3G is still trying to make its path to success, we would be seeing the roll out of 4G services at the end of Q2 2012, let’s see how they price the service, what speeds they claim to offer and what they really offer.