Aug 26, 2011

Choose your broadband provider and plan wisely

Whether you're getting a new internet connection or planning to switch providers, digging through the maze of information provided can be confusing. ET gives you a low-down on some of the better options out there.

Choose your internet provider and plan wisely to save yourself from a lot of heartburn. This information will help you get around those hidden charges, multiple plans and data limits. 


Airtel classifies data plans as fast, faster & fastest. Fast plans offer 1mbps speed, faster plans go up to 2mbps and fastest plans are 2mbps and above.

The minimum speed for nonmetro cities is 1mbps while metros get a minimum of 2mbps with varying download limits. A one-time nonrefundable installation charge of Rs 500 is charged for modem and Wi-Fi router installation. Airtel imposes a strict FUP policy on its unlimited data plans.

Once you cross your FUP limit, the speed drops to 256kbps for the remaining bill cycle (irrespective of your plan). They also offer a speed on demand service - you can buy speed up to 2/4/8mbps (depending upon what is available in your area) in hourly intervals. Detailed tariff plans may differ for select areas and can be checked online. 


Hathway charges Rs 1,000 for registration and installation. The cheapest plan is just Rs 74 + taxes per month with a 2mbps speed and 200MB download limit. Hathway's unlimited plans seem to be too good to be true - 5mbps costs just Rs 899 + taxes. However, a strict FUP limit is imposed and in that sense, Hathway is way worse than Airtel.

On the 512kbps unlimited plan the FUP limit is pegged at 10GB. On the 1mbps plan, FUP limit is set at 25GB after which the speed drops to 256kbps. In one of the 5mbps plans with a download limit of 5GB, the speed drops to a mere 64kbps once the limit is exceeded

Hughes satellite broadband 

For areas where a standard wired broadband connection is not available or not feasible, Hughes India offers satellite broadband services. Their services are meant more for business use and can work in almost any location, however remote.

Installation costs are high - Rs 10,000 as security deposit with freight and installation charges going up to Rs 5,500. Plus the plans are expensive - they start from Rs 1,990 onwards with a weak 256kbps speed and a paltry 1GB download limit. Speeds max out at 1mbps - a 1mbps plan with 16GB monthly limit will set you back a whopping Rs 22,990. They also have a pay-per-use 1mbps plan with a Rs 450 monthly rental. Data usage is charged at actuals.


MTNL charges Rs 300 for installation/activation and takes a nonrefundable security for the modem - Rs 300 for a normal modem and Rs 800 for a Wi-Fi modem.

Post that, they charge Rs 50 monthly for a normal modem and Rs 75 for a Wi-Fi modem. Prepaid plans with download limits start from as low as Rs 49 per month (200MB limit @ 2mbps) for occasional users. MTNL also offers postpaid plans with no download limits that start from Rs 599 (512Kbps) going up to Rs 3,499 (4mbps).

MTNL is one of the few broadband providers which does not apply FUP limits on unlimited plans. Available only in Delhi and Mumbai. 

Although Reliance is only available in select areas, it offers speeds as high as 20mbps. Starter plans offer 500Kbps speed with no download limits for as low as Rs 500 per month. Reliance offers a unique plan - you can choose your speed plan online, change as often as you like and get charged on an hourly basis. Options include speeds ranging from 100kbps to 1mbps.

There is also a variety of other plans with limited and unlimited data transfers from 1mbps to 8mbps. Select areas get the option of 10mbps and 20mbps plans with data limits of 10 and 20GB respectively - after the limit is crossed, additional usage charges apply. Installation charges for Reliance are Rs 500 and it also offers a 'PC protect' service for an additional Rs 70 per month (essentially a parental control for internet usage). They also impose FUP on select plans -under FUP, speed drops to 600Kbps after the data limit is exceeded.


Spectranet does not impose FUP limits on its broadband plans and it is the only provider which list tariffs inclusive of all taxes. Wired broadband is prepaid and currently only available in Mumbai. It offers various limited/unlimited plans and night plans.

The wireless broadband plans offer unlimited data transfers - 256kbps plans start from Rs 399 per month, going up to a maximum of 2mbps for Rs 1,999. What's interesting is that with a wireless connection, upload speed stays at 2mbps irrespective of the download speed - very useful if you share a lot of files online.

Plus, if you buy a wireless broadband plan for home, you can use the same login details at any Spectranet wireless hotspot across the country. Installation is done within 2 days of request. Currently available in Delhi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai, the biggest gripe is that the service is only available in select areas of each city.

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