With a plethora of ISPs now offering broadband services in India, it has become increasingly difficult for consumers to decide which one to go for. This guide takes into consideration the features offered by nationwide ISPs and their pros and cons to help you decide which one is right for you.
It will be easy if we get to know a few jargons first:
As per TRAI regulations, broadband is an always on dedicated internet connection with connection speed greater than or equal to 256 kbps. Anything lower is not to be classified as a broadband connection.
This is the speed at which you will be able to transfer data to/from your computer. This means that more the speed, faster the downloads and uploads.
kilo bits per second is a unit for measuring data transfer over a broadband connection. Note that kbps is different from KBPS (notice the caps). 8 kbps = 1 KBPS. So, if you go for a 256 kbps connection, you will get effective download speeds of 256/8 = 32 KBPS (Kilo bytes per second).
mega bits per second is also a unit for measuring data transfer. 1 mbps = 1024 kbps = 128 KBPS.
Always on (PPPOE)
Point To Point Over Ethernet is a protocol to establish point to point connection over an ethernet. Most DSL modems and wifi routers support this protocol allowing an always on broadband connection which is established within seconds after switching on the device. This is the recommended type of connection as it works well with most wifi routers and devices like Xbox, PS3, cellphones with wifi etc.
Browser based login
An alternate method of authentication where you have to login to the ISP’s website before you can start surfing the internet or download any files. This is not supported by DSL modems or wifi routers. This is not recommended as it is cumbersome to use it with wifi routers. Additionally, there are issues if you use devices like Xbox, PS3 and cellphones with wifi.
The %age of time the broadband service is up without any disruptions. Most ISPs claim 99% uptime but are usually not able to deliver that.
The different nationwide broadband ISPs:
One of the oldest and arguably the best broadband service provider in India. Almost pan India reach. Offers unlimited data transfer plans upto 1 mbps. Limited data transfer plans upto 8 mbps.
State owned broadband services provider. Pan India reach. Offers unlimited data transfer plans upto 512 kbps. Limited data transfer plans upto 8 mbps.
The telecom arm of the ADAG. Trying to become a pan India provider. Offers unlimited data transfer plans upto 1 mbps. Limited data transfer plans upto 10 mbps.
Telecom arm of the Tata group. Trying to become a pan India provider, although has wider reach than Reliance. Offers unlimited data transfer plans upto 1 mbps. Limited data transfer plans upto 2 mbps.
Here are the features provided by each of these:
|Authentication Method||Data transfer speed||Customer Support||Uptime|
|Airtel||Always on (PPPOE)||Excellent||Excellent||Excellent|
|BSNL||Always on (PPPOE)||Excellent||Average||Great|
|Reliance||Browser based login||Average||Good||Average|
|Tata Indicom||Browser based login||Average||Average||Great|
In addition to wired DSL connections, Reliance and Tata Indicom provide wimax based broadband services in many places. Wimax is a wifi like technology with range of a few kilometers compared to a few meters for wifi. In this setup, the ISP installs an antenna/dish equipment at your premises. This setup is fine as long as you get good signals.
Lets look at the pros and cons of each of the ISPs:
|Airtel||Everything !||Not available in a few areas|
|BSNL||Available everywhere||Poor customer support|
|Tata Indicom||Great uptime||Browser based login, average speed|
As per the above two tables it is clear that Airtel is the best broadband service provider in India with awesome speed and excellent customer service. The only drawback we could find with it is that it is not available at a few locations even in big cities like Delhi & NCR. BSNL comes next and scores with excellent speeds. Don’t expect anything from the customer support though. Tata Indicom comes 3rd offering great uptime and average speed and customer service. Their main drawback is that it’s not reliable in terms of speed and customer support. They will move up if they are a bit more consistent.
Clearly, Reliance sucks big time. With pathetic data transfer speeds coupled with old school browser based login, it is clearly the worst broadband service available. Many users have complained that most of the time Reliance’s servers are overloaded and unable to authenticate. Stay away from it.
Which one should I go for?
Airtel. They have plans for all types of usage scenarios from casual surfers to heavy downloaders. You will have complete peace of mind once you get it installed.
Go for BSNL only if Airtel is not available in your area.
Tata Indicom should be chosen only when its not feasible to get Airtel or BSNL.
Many past Reliance users do not recommend it. They rather suggest getting a dial up/GPRS connection or no connection at all! We do not recommend Reliance either. However, if you do not have any of the other 3 options, you can go for it at your own risk.
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