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Best sim card for internet

Discussion in 'Off Topic Chit Chat' started by RichardLavan, Dec 1, 2016.

  1. RichardLavan

    RichardLavan New Member

    It may not be the right topic for this forum, but it is India related. I am arriving in India on the 27th December, and my work involves being online, so I require internet access.
    I need to know which is the best sim card for internet access. I am not too fussed about what the costs are I am more interested in getting a reliable and fast connection which does not lag.

  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello, welcome to the forum!



    As of 2016, there are about 11 mobile operators in India which operate under circles. These circles were auctioned to these mobile operators and signify the places where they have connectivity whether in mobile signal, 3G or 4G. As such, it depends on which area you visit as to which mobile operator would work well for you for internet or even for calls. In this little guide, we would highlight which mobile operators have the largest coverage in India and also their internet speed.

    List of All Sim Cards (Mobile Operators) in India

    Sim Card/Mobile OperatorSubscribersCircles (3G)Internet
    Bharti Airtel260 Million132G, 3G and 4G/LTE
    Vodafone201 Million92G, 3G and 4G/LTE
    Idea179 Million112G, 3G and 4G/LTE
    BSNL94 MillionAll Except 2 Cities2G, 3G and 4G/LTE (Only for Postpaid)
    Aircel90 Million132G, 3G and 4G/LTE (Only for Postpaid)
    Reliance87 Million132G, 3G and 4G/LTE (Sharing with Jio)
    Jio58 Million22 (4G Only)4G/LTE
    Tata DoCoMo57 Million92G and 3G
    Telenor53 Million72G, 3G and 4G (Only in Varanasi)
    MTS7 Million92G and 3G
    MTNL4 Million22G and 3G
    The table above showcases the list of all the sim cards or mobile operators in India. All of these are privately owned, except for two, which are the BSNL and MTNL, which are both government owned. The mobile operators are arranged accordingly too, those with the highest number of subscribers are at the top of the list while those with the least number of subscribers are at the bottom of the list. Also included are the circles over which they operate and the available internet connections for each mobile operator (2G, 3G or 4G/LTE).

    Which Sim Card/Mobile Operator Should You Choose for 3G Internet?

    It really depends on where you would be staying in India and also just how much you would be using the internet. The most utilised internet connection, as of now, is the 3G or 3rd Generation. With this, you can easily access social media, email, search engines and other important work-related websites. This 3G or 3rd Generation internet works in most metro cities and urban areas. In rural areas, internet connection might be a bit weak especially on closed areas such as houses and stores.

    Sim Cards/Mobile Operators 3G Circles in India

    Circle (3G)Bharti AirtelVodafoneIdeaBSNLAircelReliance
    Andhra PradeshYesNoYesYesYesNo
    Himachal PradeshYesNoYesYesNoYes
    Jammu & KashmirYesNoYesYesYesYes
    Madhya PradeshNoNoYesYesNoYes
    Tamil NaduYesYesNoYesYesNo
    Uttar Pradesh (East)NoYesYesYesYesNo
    Uttar Pradesh (West)YesNoYesYesNoNo
    West BengalYesYesNoYesYesYes
    The table above depicts the top six sim cards or mobile operators in India for 3G internet. They have the widest coverages as compared to other mobile operators when it comes to 3G internet. Below, we would highlight the pros and cons of these sim cards/mobile operators.

    1. Bharti Airtel - Bharti Airtel is a privately owned mobile operator that is licensed to operate under 13 3G circles, namely: Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Mumbai, Northeast, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh (West) and West Bengal. Bharti Airtel is the second largest network provider after BSNL in India. It is undeniable that they have the best facilities when it comes to mobile services such as calls and internet. Even their 3G internet works well, whether you're at home or travelling via public transportation such as trains or buses. They also have a lot of packages to choose from, monthly ones to daily ones. When it comes to the prices though, Airtel is a bit on the higher side especially if you compare them to the other mobile operators. But if you're planning to reach the areas of Bangalore or Pune, connectivity and signal of Bharti Airtel might be a bit limited.
    • Pros - Wide Coverage (Urban and Rural), Many Packages to Choose From and Good 3G Internet Speed.
    • Cons - Pricey and Weak Signal on Bangalore/Pune.
    2. Vodafone - Vodafone currently operates in 9 3G circles in India, namely: Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Kolkata, Maharashtra, Mumbai, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh (East) and West Bengal. Unlike the former mobile operator though, Vodafone only works in most urban areas where connection is quite good. But once you reach rural areas, the signal for the Vodafone sim might be weak and so internet connection would also be weak. But if you're staying in urban areas such as Delhi and Mumbai, Vodafone might be one of your best choices. It has the best 3G internet connection out of all the mobile operators and even has lots of packages to choose from, ranging from budget ones to expensive ones. Even their customer service is highly rated so if you encounter any issues with their sim card, you can easily inquire through their customer service hotline. You can use Vodafone in cities such as Pune, Bangalore, Chennai or Delhi.
    • Pros - Best for Urban Areas, Lots of Packages to Choose From, More Affordable than Airtel, Good 3G Internet Connection and Good Customer Service
    • Cons - Does Not Work on Rural Areas.
    3. Idea - Founded in 1994, Idea is one of the oldest mobile operators in India. Currently, it has license to operate over 11 circles, namely: Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Kolkata, Maharashtra, Mumbai, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh (East) and West Bengal. If you intend to stay in just one area, Idea might work well for you, especially if your area comes under the circles mentioned above. However, the 3G internet connection of Idea is a bit on the weaker side. Of course, in cities, internet connection would be good but on enclosed areas, signal might be weak. Opt for Idea only if you need to use your phone for texting or calling. For internet, this mobile operator is not that recommended.
    • Pros - Best for Urban and Rural Areas, Lots of Packages to Choose From and Good Rates.
    • Cons - 3G Internet on the Weaker Side.
    4. BSNL - BSNL, also known as Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, is owned by the Indian government. It operates in all circles, except Delhi and Mumbai. It is your only option if you're visiting rural areas in India as it has the widest network coverage. Even its rates for packages are quite affordable especially as compared to the other mobile operators. Despite this wide network coverage, BSNL's internet speed, even for just 3G, is quite slow. But if you are going to provinces, BSNL might be your only choice as this is the only sim that works in such areas. Like Idea, this mobile operator is not recommended as well if your sole intention for purchasing a sim card is to use it for internet.
    • Pros - Widest Coverage and Affordable Packages.
    • Cons - 3G Internet on the Weaker Side.
    5. Aircel - Aircel is managed by a private company and was established in 1999. It operates in 13 circles, namely: Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Kolkata, Northeast, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh (East) and West Bengal. In general though, Aircel works well only in two regions, South India and Eastern India. Aircel is a favourite amongst the masses because of their very affordable packages. But if you reside in any other areas, aside from the south and east of India, internet connection might be weak. If you have a very tight budget, Aircel would be a good option as their internet connection is good as well. But if you reside in cities like Delhi or Mumbai, you're better off choosing other mobile operators.
    • Pros - Works on South and East India, Lowest Rates and Good Internet Speed.
    • Cons - Does not Work on North or West India.
    6. Reliance - Last on the list is Reliance, a privately owned mobile operator, which operates in 13 circles, namely: Assam, Bihar, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Kolkata, Madhya Pradesh, Mumbai, Northeast, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan and West Bengal. Although it has a wide coverage, it does not work well on rural areas such as provinces. Its internet rates are very low though, suitable for those in a budget. A downside with Reliance is that they have lots of issues, when it comes to calls, network coverage and even internet connection. Only choose Reliance when you don't have any other option, like you're out of budget or you're staying in a metro city anyway.
    • Pros - Works on Metro Cities and Low Rates.
    • Cons - Weak 3G Internet Signal.
    Which Sim Card/Mobile Operator Should You Choose for 4G Internet?

    If you want a faster internet connection, you should opt for 4G internet. It is about four to five times faster than 3G internet although it costs a bit more. Downloads and uploads are faster with this internet connection. If you need to access the internet along with websites with high resolutions, 4G internet would be your best bet. However, most 4G internet connections only work on highly urban areas. Rural areas rarely have 4G connections due to their locations.

    Sim Cards/Mobile Operators 4G Circles in India

    Circle (4G)Bharti AirtelVodafoneIdeaBSNLAircelJio
    Andhra PradeshYesNoYesNoYesYes
    Himachal PradeshYesYesYesYesNoYes
    Jammu & KashmirYesNoYesYesYesYes
    Madhya PradeshYesYesYesYesNoYes
    Tamil NaduYesNoYesNoYesYes
    Uttar Pradesh (East)YesYesYesYesNoYes
    Uttar Pradesh (West)YesYesYesYesYesYes
    West BengalYesNoYesYesNoYes
    As you can see from the table above, the same mobile operators operate 4G services in India. However, instead of Reliance, you have Jio, which is under Reliance too. Also included are the 4G circles under which these mobile operators can be used.

    1. Bharti Airtel - Topping this list is also Airtel, which has 4G connection in most circles, except in Assam. If you would be visiting areas such as Delhi or Mumbai, 4G connection might be good. However, it is still not as extensive and you cannot expect internet connection to be that speedy as promised in most advertisement. If you already own an Airtel 3G sim, you could follow a few simple steps to upgrade to a 4G plan. Do keep in mind that you need a device of about 2300 MHz TDD-LTE (Band 40) in order for the 4G connection to work. Airtel's plans are on the expensive side though and even with that, there is no assurance that the 4G internet connection might work in many areas. But if you would be visiting mostly metro cities, Airtel's 4G sim might work well for you. Airtel's 4G internet speeds range between 32 Mbps to 40 Mbps, surpassing the speeds of the other 4G networks.
    • Pros - Works in Most Urban Cities and Fastest 4G Internet Connection.
    • Cons - Not Yet That Extensive and High Cost.
    2. Vodafone - Vodafone also has wide coverage for 4G, about 14 circles, namely: Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Kolkata, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mumbai, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh (East) and Uttar Pradesh (West). Vodafone has bundled both 3G and 4G packages for the convenience of users. As such, if ever 4G doesn't work in your area, you would be switched to 3G. The company also has many packages ranging from 1 GB to 10 GB ones. Vodafone's 4G internet speed is on the lower side though, barely exceeding 3G internet speeds at 8 Mbps to 9 Mbps.
    • Pros - Works in Most Urban Cities and Lower Rates.
    • Cons - Average 4G Internet Speed.
    3. Idea - Excluding Bihar, Delhi and Rajasthan, Idea's 4G internet connection works in most circles in India. Idea has very flexible packages which are more affordable as compared to both Airtel and Vodafone. Yet it surpasses Vodafone's 4G internet speed as it reaches the 30 Mbps mark. However, during peak hours, like day time or evening time, speed reaches the lower mark at 20 Mbps. So if you intend to use Idea, you're better off surfing the internet or doing some work during off-peak hours like during dawn or very early in the morning. For as little as Rs. 249 per month, you can enjoy 1 GB of data with Idea's 4G plans. However, the coverage of Idea when it comes to 4G internet is not that extensive yet.
    • Pros - Works in Most Urban Cities, Lower Rates and Good 4G Internet Speed.
    • Cons - Not That Extensive.
    4. BSNL - As of now, BSNL has 4G connectivity in 14 circles, namely: Assam, Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Northeast, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh (East),Uttar Pradesh (West) and West Bengal. Do keep in mind that the 4G network coverage of BSNL isn't that extensive yet as it is on the testing phase as of now. Most of their 4G packages are bundled with 3G too, so in case 4G doesn't work, your sim will revert to 3G use. For a 10 GB 3G/4G internet, this costs Rs. 549 per month so still very affordable.
    • Pros - Lower Rates.
    • Cons - Average Internet Speed and Not That Extensive.
    5. Aircel - We now go to Aircel, which is licensed to operate 4G connection in 11 circles, namely: Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Kolkata, Northeast, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh (West). In a city like Mumbai, expect download speeds of about 50 Mbps or even more. Upload speeds are a bit slower at around 6 Mbps or lower. In cities like Bangalore or Kolkata, 4G speeds might be at the lower 30 Mbps or even 20 Mbps mark. A bit of a downside is that Aircel only offers 4G internet on postpaid accounts.
    • Pros - Fast 4G Internet Speed.
    • Cons - Only Available on Postpaid.
    6. Jio - Jio is under Reliance and it has 4G connectivity in all circles. Jio began by beta testing their services through their employees. After a successful launch this year, Jio offers the cheapest 4G internet connections in India. In the beginning, their data speed for 4G is at the high 50 Mbps mark. However, as time passed by, they lowered it at 20 Mbps and even in some areas, the download speed barely exceeds 1 Mbps. Perhaps there had been some miscalculations in the part of the management and hopefully, they can fix it before subscribers become turned off with their services.
    • Pros - Fast 4G Internet Speed (In the Beginning) and Wide Coverage.
    • Cons - Slow 4G Internet Speed as Time Passes By.

    So if you just need a basic internet connection for checking your emails or maybe your social media, you can go for 3G internet. The top contenders for this internet connection is Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Aircel. Bharati Airtel is on the higher side when it comes to pricing but it is the most reliable option. Vodafone works well in most urban cities but not on rural areas and has more affordable rates. Aircel is a good choice when you're visiting South and East India but not when you're visiting other regions.

    On the other hand, for faster internet connections, 4G is your best choice. Top contenders for 4G internet are Bharti Airtel, Idea and Aircel. Again, Bharti Aircel has a wide coverage but their rates are higher. Idea works in most urban cities and has download speed of 30 Mbps during off-peak hours. Lastly, Aircel also works in urban areas with speeds of up to 50 Mbps but they only have packages for postpaid accounts.

    I hope this helps you!:)

  3. Admin

    Admin Administrator Staff Member

    Right now the best option all across India is Reliance JIO as their prices are the lowest and my experience has been good so far from speed point of view aswell.
  4. pravish

    pravish Member

    Yes. Jio by far has been the most reliant and cheapest option for Mobile internet with speeds up to 5 mbps on an average. It is currently offering 2 gb internet per day at around Rs.508/- for 84 days. The best part is that you can make calls to anywhere in India free of cost with in that price. They only thing you need to have is a 4g phone to enjoy unlimited voice calls and internet at 4g speeds.