This is second in the series of posts about our experience with 3G services in India. Read our Reliance NetConnect+ post.
I have been using Airtel’s cellular services for close to ten years, and was very happy with them, so the day they launched, I bought the dongle. Since Airtel did not have a 3G license for my circle, they launched a roaming agreement with Idea and Vodafone to share 3G spectrum for my circle.
From the day I started using the service until today, I have never got a download rate more than 900 Kbps, with most of the speed tests giving extremely disappointing results of between 250 and 500 Kbps.
Upon complaining to customer service, which I found to be the most incompetent, I was given the runaround for 20 days during which they kept telling me every day that someone would call me within 24 hours and nobody did. I then sent a mail to their appellate authority, which elicited a call within 8 hours, and they told me they were working on my issue and would get back to me within 72 hours.
Sure enough, I got a call about two days later, and I was informed that my problem had been addressed, settings tweaked and that everything should be working as it should.
To test this, I fired up a YouTube video and it loaded without stuttering for the first time on the lowest quality only. Speed tests showed my speeds between 700 and 900 Kbps for that day. The next day I was back to 250-300 Kbps. The same was the case when I tried in a different city where Airtel had their own 3G spectrum.
One unique feature on Airtel’s 3G is the ability to monitor your usage by sending an SMS or calling customer service. This is nice and helps limit bills since Airtel does not have an unlimited package, so you can curb your usage if you cross your limit.
Conclusion: Don’t expect lightning-fast speeds or great service, but they have decent coverage under the spectrum sharing agreement.