GPRS outside Cities; iPhone in India

One of the things which surprised me was the amazing quality of mobile data connectivity outside Mumbai. I have always felt that GPRS access in cities like Mumbai leaves a lot to be desired. To actually get a feel of this, go outside the cities. On the train and in Palitana, the experience that I had on my iPhone accessing email and browsing websites was outstanding. Perhaps, there aren’t too many other users. Whatever be the reason, perhaps the wireless Internet will become the lifeline for people in the smaller towns and cities of India.

On a related note, the iPhone was officially launched in India recently by Airtel and Vodafone. I have been using a hacked iPhone for nearly a year (since last September). I recently checked my GPRS usage statistics on the phone:
Data Sent: 185 MB
Datas Received: 1.1 GB
So, that’s about 1.2 GB of data transfer in about 12 months – about 100 MB a month. (Note: This excludes WiFi usage.)

Until the official launch of the iPhone in India, there were estimated to be about 100,000 hacked iPhones. The high pricing of the official device (at Rs 31K) is definitely a dampener, especially since 3G is still many months (perhaps, a year) away. Of course, operators in India have no control on the pricing which is essentially being dictated by Apple. I think the sweet spot would have been in the Rs 20-25 range.

Also, the data plans need more sense. Operators should introduce a flat-rate data plan for the iPhone at about Rs 500. Given that speeds within cities aren’t that great, I cannot see very high usage – my 100 MB consumption is, I think, par for the course. At Rs 500, they still make about Rs 5 per MB, which is anyways the unit pricing. What flat-price data will do is drive consumption of the mobile Internet – and more smartphone sales. But maybe, that’s exactly what the spectrum-starved operators don’t want!

3 thoughts on “GPRS outside Cities; iPhone in India

  1. Airtel has a flat rate GPRS plan. 499 Rs for unlimited transfer. I have been using it on my iphone for more than an year now.

  2. I have been traveling to numerous locations across India and have been accessing Internet using GPRS connection from Airtel on HTC Touch (Rs. 499 flat plan).

    These are average speeds that I get:

    Andheri, Mumbai : 100 – 160 Kbps (depending on busy or night hours)
    Semi Urban/Rural : 20 -35 Kbps

    However, while being on move I could never see it work!

    I think, one can have flat plan (of 499/-) on iPhone-3G provided you don’t convey your device details to operator.

  3. vodafone has a 500mb for 500 rs data plan too. i use barely 100-150mb a month, but it’s still the best bang for the buck. i still feel mobile operators should reduce data charges. people would probably not mind 200mb for 200 rs – 500 is about 1/3rd of my mobile bill, and more than the average cellphone user’s total monthly bill.

    btw, the reason you’re seeing better speeds in rural areas is because the iPhone doesn’t have EDGE. the HTC Touch on the other hand does.

    my non-EDGE handset (the O2 Zinc) gives me about 40-56k downloads in and outside mumbai – the only issues are when the network is overloaded (which only happens in mumbai), my data connection drops and it’s hard to reconnect.