UPDATE: The plans are no longer available and were posted on Vodafone’s website in error, a public relations official speaking on behalf of the operator told RTN. Readers are advised that the plans are not available.
After a period of relative calm in India’s 3G data tariffs space, Vodafone Delhi has shattered the silence with the cheapest 3G tariff plan in India — 1 GB at Rs 49.
In comparison, the ‘going rate’ for 1 GB of 3G data per month is Rs 250. It must be noted that the plan is only for those SIMs that won’t be used for voice calls at all — such as those used in USB data cards and tablets.
For these devices, Vodafone Delhi has introduced two new plans – Rs 98 for 2 GB of 3G data per month and Rs 497 for 5 GB per month.
It is not clear why Vodafone has introduced the second tariff scheme as it costs double what the other one does. For example, under the first scheme, 5 GB per month would cost only Rs 245. However, it may be that Vodafone Delhi prevents a user who has exhausted the 2 GB quota in the first scheme from recharging again using the same denomination before the validity period of the first recharge (1 month) gets over.
Assuming that users can freely recharge their 3G data account when they want, Vodafone’s plan is the cheapest 3G data plan in India for anyone who uses 15 GB or less per month. Above the 15-GB mark, MTNL’s 200-GB-at-Rs-4,500-for-six-months plan is cheaper.
One disadvantage of the plan is that it requires users to buy a USB-dongle. However, Vodafone also offers free USB dongles in some of its mobile broadband plans. The regular price of a USB dongle is about Rs 1,500.
It should also be noted that the price of 2 GB of data on Vodafone’s normal 3G plans is Rs 449, and the new plan is about 80% cheaper. Nearly all other private operators also charge Rs 450 for 2 GB of data per month.
In addition, Reliance Communications has also introduced a cheaper plan for its USB dongle users across its 3G circles. The company now offers 30 GB for Rs 3,000 for six months – or at the rate of Rs 100 per GB. The plan will appeal to users who consume about 5 GB per month, as it will cost them only Rs 500 per month.
In comparison, Reliance Communication’s normal rate for 5 GB of 3G data per month is Rs 800. In addition, the new plan also offers the advantage of being able to carry forward unused quota to the next month, up to 6 months.
The new plans have slightly altered the 3G price-comparison for all-India operators (see chart below.)