bsnlBoth of India’s public sector telecom operators have now launched 3G services, while private carriers still await the announcement of an auction date. According to some reports, yesterday, BSNL announced the launch of 3G Services in Chennai, and plans to roll out 3G services in 12 cities by 27th February. However, another report claimed that the commercial launch in Chennai will be April. All in all, BSNL will be spending around Rs. 27 billion on the first phase of the launch.

3G services will be available in three rate plans – Rs 350, Rs 650 and Rs 1350. Local video calls are charged at Rs 2 per minute while STD video call is Rs 3 per minute. However, it is the pricing of the data plans that is of interest to us:

Data Priced At Rs. 3000 For Unlimited Usage

Remarkably, the data services are reasonably priced, in comparison with MTNLs pricing of Rs. 5/MB. Those who don’t subscribe to a data plan have to pay Rs. 3/MB. Via Chakravyu, we learn that customers can subscribe to 3G data services for Rs. 1000 per month for 5GB, and unlimited usage at Rs. 3000 per month for post-paid users. Pricing for Pre-paid users is almost on par – Rs. 3001 for unlimited usage:


Apart from this, users can also opt for night usage plans – for Rs. 28 per month, they’ll have to pay Rs. 1/MB between 11pm and 7am. Users who use data services on roaming will have to pay Rs. 3 per MB.

BSNL is also offering trial packs – 50MB for Rs. 60 and 100 MB for Rs. 120, which are valid for 15 days.

More details available here.

Issues And Questions

We’re not quite happy with this phased rollout of 3G services – city by city means that users will be limited to 2G services when out of 3G network coverage. Will BSNL 3G users be able to switch to MTNL 3G when in Delhi or Mumbai? Also, is the coverage of the 3G network throughout the city, or limited to specific pockets. In case you’ve tried out BSNLs 3G services, do let us know.

Also, strangely enough, the price of the USB modem isn’t mentioned. Does that mean that BSNL isn’t offering a USB modem, and hence limiting it to users who know how to connect their phone to their laptops? That’s rather disappointing. Also, what happens to those people who had subscribed to BSNLs EVDO service?

One really can’t be too sure of some announcements: do take a look at this 2003 report on BSNL being on the verge of launching 3G services.


This data pricing is fairly reasonable, and it may lead to an increase the number of broadband connections – however, we feel that, initially, the early adopters of the data services are likely to be corporate and home users who want an additional connection, or want connectivity on the move. Eventually, one may also see a switch from dialup to 3G data usage.

MTNL Launches 3G With Data Priced At Rs. 5/MB
— 3G India: BSNL 3G Service Already Operational – 2Mbps Via EVDO for Rs 750/month