Things 3G users in India should know

A recent in-house study by Nokia-India says that, when Indians are using mobile internet, they are downloading games followed by entertainment, mostly. But till now it was Ok, as it’s relatively inexpensive accessing the Internet on your handset using GPRS/EDGE.

But if a user carries on the same “GPRS usage” philosophy to the newly launched 3G services, then chances are he/she will be stunned by a Huge Bill.

As, the GPRS/EDGE providers in the country may have allowed you to act spoilt with the normal mobile internet, but they are definitely not doing this in case of 3G. For instance, while Airtel allows users to access the Internet using EDGE/GPRS connectivity on their handsets for Rs 199 per month with a 2GB data limit in Delhi, a similar plan for 3G costs Rs 750. A tariff almost four times more.

So caution should be exercised while opting and using the 3G services.

As told above, basic 3G plans are costing at least 4 times more than the normal mobile internet in the country. Add to this the fact that, with the faster connectivity on 3G, a user is more likely to end up doing far more browsing than he/she would normally do on a relatively sluggish connection. As a consequence, the user is likely overshoot his data limit,

This can hurt badly. Although most service providers will be charging at the rate of 30 paise per 20 kb; which looks insignificant; if the user does a little maths then he is being charged approximately Rs 15 per MB, which in turn means more than Rs 15,000 per GB.

Here are a few dos and donts which any 3G user in India should give attention to, in order to save himself from undesirable shocks:

1) Act according to your Plan

If you have opted for a basic plan, try not to overshoot your limit. And act like a miser. All it takes is some common sense and attention to download detail. It is important to keep a tab on the download details; as this feature mainly deals with 3G usage on a phone (in short downloads is where your 3G bandwidth is most likely to be used).

2) Pick the right plan

Make sure you have opted for the right plan. Don’t treat the early days of accessing the Internet on your handset (when you could have an unlimited data plan) with the early days of 3G. When it comes to 3G, there are some very strict data limits on just how much data you can use. Even when you can get plans for long or short periods, strict data usage limits apply for both.

Take this example for instance, 3G providers like Idea, have time-based plans which let you use 3G services for a limited period of time. For example, there is a Rs 145 plan for prepaid connections in which a user gets 120 minutes of 3G free, spread over a period of seven days. Similarly Airtel has plans that let you use small amounts of data over 3G for a limited period of time, Rs 11 for 10 MB of usage for a day.

3) Things every mobile OR 3G user in India should remember:

a) The plan you choose depends on your needs. The simple rule of thumb is : If you are a heavy mobile internet user OR have to download data a lot OR watch lots of video, then go for a high data usage plan. On the other hand, if you use mobile internet occasionally, with occasional peaks in consumption, go for one of the shorter duration ones.

b) If you are the one who just needs Internet access on mobile to check your e-mail and do some basic browsing, then don’t opt for 3G, keep using the "normal" EDGE/GPRS connection.

c) For whom is 3G: If you -- watch as little as half an hour of video per day on your handset, you will be using close to 1.5 GB of data in a month, or more; if you prefer watching videos in high-definition – Then 3G is for you. Understand that 3G is not for those who like watching videos on their handsets and have a tight budget. Such users should remember that, if they have opted for 3G, use only when necessary, simply because ten minutes of video can cost much more than an hour of relatively normal browsing on the same connection.

d) Unless absolutely essential, avoid hitting that "view in HD" option. This applies for images as well. Even loading a single high-resolution image could eat up a few MBs of your bandwidth.

e) Not even viewing pictures and videos, uploading data (photos, videos etc.) also eats bandwidth.

f) As said earlier, 3G means downloads. That is, a user needs 3G connection only when he/she does some high bandwidth intensive activity OR some activity that needs mpps speeds. Hence when you are not doing something which requires high-speed data access, you can simply go to your phone's settings and switch to the good old 2G network/ normal mobile internet. In short, you don’t need 3G all the time, especially for tasks as routine as downloading mail or getting social network notifications.

g) When on 3G connection, do make sure that you only keep those tasks running that you actually need. For instance, switching off your phone software auto updates is a good idea. In the same way, directing your phone to automatically upload all your pictures to Facebook is not a wise idea.

h) Don’t multitask. Use that number of application you can keep tab on. Go for a one-time download rather than keeping an application running in the background.

i) For new internetwebpage, or downloading or uploading you will spend your bandwidth.

Regarding applications that can help you preserve the valuable bandwidth, there are applications that are designed to keep your data costs down. Take for instance browser application. A browser like Opera Mini (available across many different devices) actually compresses the size of a website before displaying it on your handset, not only does this mean faster Web browsing but also saving valuable bandwidth; and hence sane Bills.

In the same way, those Indians who are using iPads, applications like Flipboard lets them download all their news and social network updates at one go and then browse them at their leisure after switching off your data connection. --------

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