Say hello to 3G

  The first of the private telecom-run 3G networks rolled out last week in Chennai and Bangalore, and more players are set to join the fray. Before making a shift, it would be good to find out whether you really need to, writes Karthik Subramanian

The third-generation (3G) mobile networks are vying with one another to grab eyeballs everywhere. Private telecom players have already started splashing advertisements and the buzz is set to get bigger in the days to come.

Bangalore and Chennai were among the first south Indian cities to experience the rollout from Airtel last week, and more players and cities are likely to jump on the bandwagon. The state-owned BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited) has been offering 3G network services — both on pre-paid and post-paid plans — for quite a while now; but this has not been as widely advertised.

So is it time to make the shift? Also, does one have what is required for such a change?

For starters, one must have a 3G-compliant handset capable of logging on to the networks via HSPA (high speed packet access) or WCDMA (wideband code division multiple access) protocols. Third-generation mobile networks are capable of delivering speeds up to 7.1 MBps (this is downlinking only; usually the uplinking speeds are lower).

And the first of the 3G tariffs point to a premium service: from one-day validity packs priced at Rs.63 for 65MB to help users get a hang of the service right up to a 30-day validity package that offers 2GB for Rs.750. Flexi-plans for heavy users and the pay-as-you-go plans are also available.

3G compliant handsets

It could be a good time for all those who have been dilly-dallying about whether or not to go in for that smartphone. Already all the leading private operators have listed on their websites —, and — 3G compliant handsets that can exploit the full potential of the networks.

So what does it mean to have 3G network access via one's mobile phone? How does high data speed, always-on connectivity translate into better usability?

At the outset, 3G networks readily offer better video and audio streaming “on the go”. One can also make video conferencing calls. Besides, one could look forward to infinitely quicker downloads that could turn your mobile phone into a virtual workstation.


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