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Airtel 3G Tariff Plans Explained

Nikhil Pradhan 25 Jan 2011
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Airtel finally launched their 3G services yesterday after months of waiting. While the Airtel representatives did explain the company’s 3G tariff plans in brief at the press conference, we received another communication from Airtel that shed new light on the tariffs.

So here are Airtel’s 3G tariff plans explained with the entire table to conclude the article:

1.Default Plan: By default if you have enabled 3G services on your handset, you will continue with the same charges, data limit and validity as you had when you were using GPRS services.

2.Sachet Plan (Rs.9): Opting for the Rs. 9 sachet plan will give you a data limit of 10MB and validity till midnight of the same day. Going over the data limit will cost you 30p/20kb.

3.Sachet Plan (Rs. 45): The Rs. 45 sachet plan is time-based and will last you 30 minutes of usage.

4.Sachet Plan (Rs. 60): This plan has a data limit of 65MB with a validity of 3 days. After exceeding data limit usage you will be charged at the same rate per kb as the default plan.

Standard Plans

In all Standard Plans, after crossing the data limit, your extra charges will revert back to the default charges (30p/20KB or Rs. 15/Mb) and you get 30 days of validity.

1.Standard Plan (Rs. 103); data limit- 100MB.

2.Standard Plan (Rs. 200); data limit- 250MB

3.Standard Plan (Rs. 450); data limit- 600MB

4.Standard Plan (Rs. 750); data limit- 2GB

The final plan is what Airtel refers to as the FlexiShield Plan, meant for people who don’t want to pay more than Rs. 2,000 per month. In this plan, you pay Rs. 675 for a month and get a data limit of 1.25GB. After crossing this data limit you will be charged 1p for every 100kb you use (or 80p for every 1MB of usage) till your bill value reaches Rs. 2,000. After that point you will still be able to use Internet on your mobile device but your speed will sharply drop to 20kbps.


Click on image to enlarge in new window.

So what does it mean for me?

(Note: Although, I’ve tried my level best to keep my calculations accurate, do keep in mind that all figures and calculations are approximations at best). Although it might not hit you at first glance, keep in mind that in any plan apart from the FlexiShield plan will not cap your bill amount. So you will have to keep an eye out on how much data you are using. I consider my mobile Internet usage slightly above average with about 50 e-mails (approximately) received and sent, about 25 social media posts, some app downloads among others daily. The Airtel calculator estimated my monthly Internet usage to be 2.06GB. So (ignoring the sachet plans) let’s take a look at what you would have to pay if you opt for the fourth Standard Plan or the FlexiShield Plan if your mobile Internet usage is similar to mine:


My estimated monthly mobile data usage (2.06GB total)

1.Standard Plan (Rs. 750): Total monthly bill- Rs. 1,650. I had to recheck my calculations twice because I couldn’t believe it the first time. You are paying Rs. 750 for the first 2GB and then you are paying an extra Rs. 900 for the additional 60MB! This looks like all sorts of wrong. I still can’t believe my calculations but if I were you, I certainly wouldn’t opt for this plan.

2.FlexiShield Plan: If I average out my monthly usage on a daily basis, it would give me a rough estimate of 69MB of data use every day. In this plan I will have used up my data limit within 18 days. My monthly bill at the end of the month will then amount to Rs. 1,323 (Rs. 675 for the first 1.25GB and then Rs. 648 for the remaining 810MB of data). If I was on Airtel and opting for 3G, I would opt for this plan.

Now, if you don’t plan to use as much data as me and will be content with about 500MB of data usage every month, let’s see what it means for you (please see the below image to get a very rough idea of what all you will be able to do with 500MB monthly):


Estimated monthly mobile usage data of 500MB (incorrectly displayed as 0.5MB on Airtel site).

1.Standard Plan (Rs. 103): Total monthly bill- Rs. 6,103 (Rs. 103 for the first 100MB and a whopping Rs. 6,000 for the remaining 400MB).

2.Standard Plan (Rs. 200): Total monthly bill- Rs. 3,950 (Rs. 200 for the first 250MB and Rs. 3,750 for the remaining 250MB).

If you opt for any of the rest of the plans, your data usage will be within the data limit and therefore you will only have to pay the minimum amount designated for that plan (for e.g. Rs. 450 for 600MB).

What this means is that unless you want to get a shocker of a bill at the end of the month, you should pick your plan very carefully according what you think your usage will be. Online reports are claiming that an Airtel 3.6Mbps card was offering download speeds of about 300KBps, so it will be quite easy for you to use up your data limits pretty quickly.

Do tell us what you think of Airtel’s 3G tariffs on Twitter, Facebook or e-mail.

Follow me on Twitter @postwar

Other stories of interest:

Airtel Launches 3G Services in India; Tariffs Announced
Which Tata Docomo 3G Plan Is Best For You?
Tata Docomo 3G Launch: What You Need to Know