Airtel 3G vs BSNL 3G Speed and Price Comparison

All the major cell phone operators in India has launched their 3G data and video calling services. I was previously using BSNL 3G and has good speeds and coverage even in roaming. I recently gave Airtel 3G a try and I am sharing my findings with you here.

BSNL 3G is much superior to Airtel 3G for the below reasons:

1. BSNL has a 3G coverage in most second tier cities than Airtel. So you get BSNL 3G coverage in places where Airtel offers only EDGE service. Refer the map below showing places where BSNL and other operators have 3G coverage.

BSNL 3G vs Airtel 3G coverage Map in India

2. BSNL 3G Speeds are far superior (almost twice as fast) as Airtel 3G. I have checked the speeds of both the services – actual speeds I am getting in download manager while downloading the same file from the same server in good network coverage condition. I have tethered the phone to PC and downloaded a file from the filesonic India server. As you could see from the below video, BSNL 3G always offers 300 KB+ where as Airtel 3G offers only 150 KB+ speeds. The below video was shot at the most network congested time period to check the actual speeds both the operators can deliver at peak times. At non-peak times (after 11 PM), I find BSNL 3G delivering 500 KB+ speeds at ease. (Note: I have good BSNL and AIrtel 3G coverage at my place.)

Airtel 3G Speeds

BSNL 3G Speeds

3. BSNL 3G is much cheaper than Airtel 3G. BSNL has recently stopped the unlimited 3G service it was offering earlier. Instae it has made the unlimited downloads restricted to 35 GB cap limits. BSNL stated the reason as users exploiting the bandwidth. But I dont find a measning in naming a service as unlimited if its not truly unlimited. Anyway, BSNL now offers 22 GB for INR 1819 and 35 GB for INR 2230. Even after BSNL restricted their download limits, still BSNL 3G shines as the only 3G operator in India offering the service for cheaper rates (Refer current BSNL 3G tarrif here). If you take Airtel 3G,the highest data plan Airtel has is 2GB for INR 750, after which Airtel charges exorbitantly high in pay per MB beyond 2GB (Refer current Airtel 3G tarriff here). So still, when compared to other operators, BSNL is way way cheaper in 3G tarriff. You could see the BSNL 3G and Airtel 3G offers as of April 2011 below.

Airtel 3G vs BSNL 3G Speeds and Price

So, what I concluded from my above experiences with both Airtel 3G and BSNL 3G is that other operators have to yet catch up with BSNL in terms of speed, coverage and tarrif. In all these parameters, BSNL 3G simply beats Airtel 3G and other operators. No doubt BSNL 3G is a government company and other operators may find it too difficult to catch up with BSNL 3G, but for the end user, BSNL 3G really is the best 3G as of today in India.

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