Buying Guide: Data Cards

Buying Guide: Data CardsIndia got the taste of wireless broadband when CDMA players rolled out evdo based data services.

Tata Photon+ and Reliance Netconnect+ was either of the choice for people who are always on the move. Later BSNL and MTS also joined the EVDO bandwagon. EVDO is mostly offered via USB modem.

Though EVDO services are getting cheaper these services have few glitches for end users, like:

1. The modem comes operator-locked and there is no easy solution to unlock – that means when you buy it it’s your lifetime investment. If you like to change operator, buy another device.

2. EVDO connections don’t allow recharge of 1X plans.

With the roll out of 3G/HSPA services from PSU and private GSM operators, there is a sudden increase of demand for 3G modems. Using unlocked 3G/HSPA modem means you have complete freedom to choose any GSM operator as these modems are backwardly compatible, i.e. supports 2G network (GPRS/EDGE) also.

3G modems mostly come with these specs:

Downlink: HSDPA -3.6Mbps; HSPA – 7.2 Mbps.

10Mbps, 14.4Mbps, 21.6Mbps

Uplink: 384kbps, 5.76 Mbps

Plug & Play over USB 2.0 High speed

Doubled as pen drive with support of 2/4/8/16/32 GB microSD.

Advantages of unlocked 3G Modems:

  • You can use 2G operators also
  • GPRS/EDGE network is present in almost everywhere in the country – never out of internet.
  • You can change operator by changing the SIM
  • Easy transition from 2G to 3G and vice versa.

Some operators already launched 3G data cards:

Operators 3G Data Cards
Airtel Huawei E1731- 7.2Mbps
Huawei E153 – 3.6Mbps
Reliance (Unlocked modems) ZTE MF190 – 7.2Mbps @ Rs 2500
Huawei E173 – 7.2Mbps @ Rs 2500
ZTE MF668 – 21Mbps @ Rs 4499
Aircel Huawei – 7.2Mbps @ Rs 3499
Tata Docomo ZTE MF632 – 7.2Mbps @ Rs 1999
21Mbps @ Rs 4000
BSNL Teracom – 7.2Mbps @ Rs 2000
Teracom – 3.6Mbps @ Rs 1600
MTNL iLemon/Teracom – 3.6Mbps @ Rs 1799
iLemon – 7.2Mbps @ Rs 2590
Vodafone Vodafone 3G Stick Huawei K3565 – 3.6Mbps @ Rs 1600
Idea Idea Netsetter Huawei E1550 – 3.6Mbps @ Rs 1600

** Note: the prices of 3G data cards are falling down. So expect changes in the price.

Till now only STel did not launch 3G data cards. STel who has 3G licences in 3 circles did not roll out 3G commercial services in any of the circles.

Indian 3G Data cards:
Micromax has a good portfolio of 3G data cards – 300G, 310G, 350G, 351G, 352G. Each one has different form factors. Micromax 300G and 310G was earlier sold with Airtel and BSNL.

Beetel, a part of Bharti group also has 3G data card product line. Some of Beetel modems are rebranded ZTE MF170, MF180, MF190, MF631. Beetel also has some own branded modems.

Recently Lava Mobiles entered the data card market with 720G (7.2Mbps HSUPA modem), which was shared on Telecomtalk. I guess soon other desi companies like Maxx, Lemon, Karbonn may come up with such products. Another desi company VisionTek launched 82GH (3.6Mbps/384kbps) modem some times back.

Olive Telecom already showed off World’s first Multi-mode, Multi-band modem. This modem is to support 14.4Mbps HSPA category 8 and 14.7Mbps EVDO Rev B network.

Interestingly there are many other internationally accepted brands which make 3G data cards, like Nokia, Maxon, Novatel Merlin, Option Globetrotter, Alcatel, Sierra Wireless and Sony Ericsson. But officially they are not available in Indian market.

My personal favorite brand is Huawei, as its generic dashboard comes with many functions but Huawei itself does not sell 3G devices in India. Either you buy one from Reliance (E173) or get one from online reseller.

Online resellers generally offer 1 yr warranty with the product, but before you buy it check all details. They also give replacement of the faulty products if returned within 7 days of purchase. And beware of fraudulent online sellers.

There are two types of unlocked modems – either unlocked by someone or factory unlocked. Currently online resellers import the modems from abroad and unlock and sell. In that way you can get Huawei, Nokia and other brands. Before you buy such modems from online resellers

Dashboard software

This is an important part of the 3G USB modem, if you like to use the modem just like a mobile phone. With the dashboard you can make and receive calls’ send; receive and save SMS; change settings, send USSD, contact, call records etc etc. When you upgrade your modem’s firmware it is expected you will get generic dashboard.

In general dashboard of ZTE modems do not support USSD, which is very essential for balance check. To check USSD from the modem, you have to close the dashboard and open MDMA.

Tata Docomo 3G data cards come with a stripped dashboard which does not support calling and SMS facility. Micromax modems do not offer calling facility with their dashboard.

Wireless Routers – If you like to connect multiple PC/laptop/tablet

Olive Nexus V-R9 (Multiple Connectivity Options- EDGE/3G/1X/EV-DO USB modem, Data-enabled tethered cell phone, Ethernet -ADSL, Cable, WiMAX ) priced at just Rs 2990 at Olive online store.

Micromax 400R – unlocked 7.2Mbps HSUPA router. Price Rs 5000

Tata Docomo 3G WiFi Hub – dual mode HSPA ((7.2/5.7 Mbps)) & EVDO (3.1/1.8 Mbps) – MRP Rs 5999 [locked with Tata Docomo SIM & Tata Photon+ RUIM]

Vodafone R201 (Huawei made) (7.2Mbps downlink and 5.7Mbps uplink) – MRP Rs 5500 [Locked with Vodafone SIM

One of Our Guest writer is also selling unlocked 3G modems at http://www.3gdatacard.co.cc/ The modems are completely unlocked and special discount is also provided to TT readers

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  • Anushanthan March 20, 2014 11:55 pm

    which is the best unlocked modem – Huawei or D-Link. Replay me quick plz

  • Rajendra Reddy January 20, 2014 8:47 pm

    Nice post,
    Thanks for this article, it was very helpful to choose my data finally i have decided to go for airtel

  • Venkat Narasimhan October 21, 2013 1:08 pm

    Is it safe to buy a used 3g modem from someone. Will there be any issues?

  • Naveen Kumar June 18, 2013 11:11 pm

    Hi Biswas

    can u provide me the link for E173 dashboard software pls.

    anybody pls

  • yogeswaran February 15, 2013 9:30 pm

    I want to unlock my huawei e303 aircel logo datacard

  • sayani chakraborty December 26, 2012 4:31 am

    which data card is better???micromax or beetel…i have a beetel BG64 model..is it gud??

  • ASHOK October 27, 2012 11:26 am

    VERY USEFUL.

  • Hafis August 30, 2012 8:30 pm

    Pradeep, Thanks for your tip. :)

  • Satej August 26, 2012 1:21 am

    Hi Pradeep,
    I have a Huawei E173Cs-1 data card from Airtel. I unlocked the data card and was using it fro the past one month but suddenly day before yesterday it bricked. Now, only the storage drivers are loading and getting installed. Modem drivers are not being installed at all and hence its not being detected in my laptop. Please help.

  • PRADEEP KUMAR G S August 8, 2012 6:39 pm

    hello sir, i need to buy a data card which is of in between 5 to 7mbps………. which company brand is best for unlocked datacards and can you please let me know the difference between locked and unlocked data cards more and please let me know the prices……….. i need to buy it very soon as my work begun……. please help me

  • AKHIL June 11, 2012 9:51 pm

    I WANT TO ASK DOES AIRTEL 3G HAS ROAMING CHARGES
    I MEAN IF I GO IN SOME OTHER STATE WILL IT CHARGE SOMETHING EXTRA?

  • hardik April 8, 2012 2:47 pm

    mts will be
    @Sowmya

  • hardik April 8, 2012 2:46 pm

    dear,
    i want to purchase a new netsetter…..which one you preffer me….i am intrested in mts now onwards. plz. let me know which one will be best as compare to prize. speed and plans
    thanking you

  • Sowmya March 18, 2012 4:31 pm

    Also,
    Please let me know if any other plug n play Modems, other than BSNL, is better. I want am planning to buy it max by next 1 week, so please let me know asap.. :)

    Thanks in Advance,
    Sowmya

  • Sowmya March 18, 2012 4:27 pm

    Hi,

    Very informative article. I wanted to buy BSNL 3G Plug n Play Model:
    BSNL Teracom – 7.2Mbps @ Rs. 2000
    Teracom – 3.6Mbps @ Rs. 1600
    Please tell me which is the best one (which has the best speed and connectivity in Bangalore and Mysore).

    Also, where can I buy one for the above mentioned rates.

    Thanks,
    Sowmya

  • RCOMcare March 13, 2012 3:55 pm

    @chandani kumari

    Hi Chandani,

    This is to inform you that your concern has been noted. Please share your contact number with us so that we are able reach you. Our team is eager to help you.

    Cheers,

    RCOMcare

  • Babu March 5, 2012 9:48 pm

    Very useful, informative article. Thank you so much!

  • chandani kumari March 5, 2012 2:15 pm

    hey i have 3g netconnect data card of reliance.can i use 2g sim on dat 3g datacard.???

  • ideacellular February 28, 2012 10:20 am

    chaitanya :
    After the first month can we use 2g sim in Idea Netsetter Huawei E1550.
    plz tell me.

    Dear Sir,

    We request you to kindly provide us; with your ten digit Idea mobile number for further assistance.

    Regards,
    Ideacellular

  • chaitanya February 18, 2012 11:30 am

    After the first month can we use 2g sim in Idea Netsetter Huawei E1550.
    plz tell me.

  • ravi shekhar February 18, 2012 3:32 am

    Ratan Madani :
    Sir i have a Huawei unlock Data Card Model No.E-1550(HSDPA.
    what i can use CDMA Sim and how much i can access meximum speed with 2G and 3G

    You cannot use any CDMA sim in your huawei e1550 modem.236 kb/s and 3.6 mb/s are peak speed for 2g and 3g respectively.

  • Ratan Madani January 28, 2012 8:53 pm

    Sir i have a Huawei unlock Data Card Model No.E-1550(HSDPA.
    what i can use CDMA Sim and how much i can access meximum speed with 2G and 3G

  • Ratan Madani January 28, 2012 8:45 pm

    This is very helpful web for clear knowledge

    So

    I like it very much

  • niraj January 26, 2012 11:33 pm

    A lot of tablet are offering internet conectivity with 3G data card so please tell me, if our 3G data card is unlocked we can use 2G sim card with dat, bt it will support with that tablet or not???

  • Roy January 24, 2012 2:12 pm

    @Gaurav Singh
    Ya, u can use any cdma sim with that with respective APN no.

    by………………

  • naveen December 26, 2011 2:56 pm

    sorry its not possible … sinec bsnl evdo was cdma technology.
    @Gaurav Singh

  • Abhijith December 20, 2011 8:46 pm

    @dinesh
    ya its good to use am using it . . Nothing problem i faced yet .

  • ketan December 20, 2011 8:26 pm

    yea it is compatible

  • dinesh December 19, 2011 8:58 pm

    guys im planning for a datacard after all my search about data cards i found huawei lava to be the best of all so plz tell me if lava has any problems to face with?? i got to knw from the above comments that huawei is good but i have a service centre for lava near by , so im seeing for lava 720g stick can any 1 who knows about lava can tell me if its a good decision or not or cons and pros of this tech ……………………….pls reply me fast . thanks in advance ……………………………..dinesh

  • Naveen Kumar P November 28, 2011 11:36 am

    Hi Friend,

    Currently I have a airtel 3g datacard from Huawei. This datacard is now being operated with 3G sim. Could you please let me know whether i can also use the same datacard with airtel 2G sim card. This data card is unlocked. In short I wanted to know whether 3G datacards will be compatible with 2G also or they will work only with 3G.

    Thanks in Advance
    Naveen Kumar…

  • Gaurav Singh November 10, 2011 4:44 pm

    Huawei E1731- 7.2Mbps, which is coming with Airtel 3G, can it be used with CDMA cards/services too? I want to use this with BSNL EVDO as they are giving the option to activate our own card. Please reply ASAP.

  • Raj kumar November 6, 2011 7:32 pm

    I have MF190 beetel modem

  • push November 1, 2011 12:02 pm

    Has anyone unlocked Huawei E1731 3g Modem of AIRTEL?Guide me

  • Rohan Singh October 19, 2011 4:35 pm

    Debu :
    @RDB
    can you plz tell me which one is better:Huawei E270, Huawei E169, Huawei – E177.
    Are all these unlocked? how good are unlocked Huawei data cards in comparison to others? is there any better data cards better than these??
    plz reply soon…

    All of them are good & all of them supports 7.2Mbps. E270 is good. It would be good if u go for Huawei K4504 it’s best & supports 21Mbps.

  • Debu October 19, 2011 4:01 pm

    @RDB
    can you plz tell me which one is better:Huawei E270, Huawei E169, Huawei – E177.
    Are all these unlocked? how good are unlocked Huawei data cards in comparison to others? is there any better data cards better than these??
    plz reply soon…

  • Debu October 19, 2011 3:59 pm

    @RDB
    can you plz tell me which one is better:Huawei E270, Huawei E169, Huawei – E177.
    Are all these unlocked? how good are unlocked Huawei data cards in comparison to others? is there any better data cards better than these??
    plz reply soon…

  • Bhaskar September 29, 2011 4:31 pm

    Don’t go for both ….just search for Huawei modem. I am using HuaweiE176 3G usb modem it has a great performance.

  • Shreesh September 29, 2011 4:13 pm

    Pls tell me which one is best between Beetel MF190 Data Card and Micromax MMX 350G 3.6 MBps (HSDPA) USB Modem.

  • shekhar July 28, 2011 12:06 am

    huawei is the best one

  • prabhat sameja June 17, 2011 2:25 pm

    my huawei E173 3g usm modem not support reliance gsm network,so for support what can ido? please give me some solution.

  • rspawan June 5, 2011 12:31 pm

    UNLOCK BSNL TERACOM 3G DATA CARD FREE By Using This Software ziddu. com/ download / 14352426 /U302. exe. html …

  • rspawan June 5, 2011 12:28 pm

    One of Our Guest writer is also selling unlocked 3G modems at http://www.3gdatacard.co.cc/ The modems are completely unlocked and special discount is also provided to TT readers.

    This link is not open friend i think something is missing from this link.

  • pavan0641 June 4, 2011 6:17 pm

    any one unlocked e1732 modem, help me out

  • vipul June 4, 2011 10:49 am

    how to unlock bsnl 3G modem?

  • virendra June 4, 2011 10:03 am

    RDB :@virendra dc-files.com

    Thanks RDB it worked .. i m able to make call….. but still USSD is not working.

  • TD June 4, 2011 6:17 am

    reliance modems supports linux OS, at least i know, check this link……

    http://www.rcom.co.in/Rcom/personal/3G/HTML/DataCards.html

  • RDB June 3, 2011 10:35 pm

    @virendra dc-files.com

  • virendra June 3, 2011 10:11 pm

    can any body tell me from where i can update my huawei e173 data card firmware ( currently 11.126.83.00.00) …so that i can make call as well as can check balance thru USSD….. thanks ….

  • Prabaharan June 3, 2011 9:37 pm

    I was looking for a post regarding this 3G wifi hubs. Thanks for publishing it with price details with much other information.It was useful.
    I had an ipod and not a smart phone and need a device like this to get the internet on the go.

    If they improve the battery backup time it would be great.
    Thank you very much. Awaiting more such updates on this regard in future.

    Regular telecomtalk reader
    Prabaharan

  • akhilesh June 3, 2011 7:25 pm

    Suresh :
    I bought Huawei UMG 1831 21.6 Mbps modem through ebay india six months before for Rs.2800, Unlocked one, I am currently using with BSNL 3G sim and getting speed up to 1 Mbps, But using airtel 2G makes hard to connect. The software they gave along with this modem not that much good, It is slow and balance check option not availble,

    Huawei UMG 1831 Currently NOt Supported Only Voice Calls

    Working is USSD,SMS,MMS,VDO CALL & other all
    But u need to edit some XML files of mobile partner
    Or Use Mobile Data Monitoring (MDMA) App
    nerve.org.za/mdma/ mdma10030c. zip
    download unzip it n use it..is best for 90% modem models.

  • Hitesh June 3, 2011 3:07 pm

    @ Rohan Singh :Iwebleaf is missed, since its a fake product.A cheap chinese 3g modem rebranded with name iwebleaf.

  • Abhi June 3, 2011 2:48 pm

    RDB :@Abhi this story targets only 3g/hspa modems. If u like to, I wll cover a story of evdo modems.

    Sure..it will be a pleasure to read that article…

  • Rohan Singh June 3, 2011 2:31 pm

    iWebleaf missed ….

  • Sanjay Bafna June 3, 2011 2:01 pm

    MTNL 3G Data Card also supports Linux/ Ubuntu http://bit.ly/mtnl3gDatacardManual

  • RDB June 3, 2011 2:01 pm

    @Abhi
    this story targets only 3g/hspa modems. If u like to, I wll cover a story of evdo modems.

  • RDB June 3, 2011 1:54 pm

    @TD
    @mansoor Ahmed yes reliance is selling unlocked data cards. Other operators r selling dongles locked to their respective netwrks.

    Support of linux os is an esential part. I checked lava modem supports linux os. But support to mac is often not available.

  • raf June 3, 2011 1:48 pm

    hi
    i have one of the data card listed upside also note these data card company gives lock but easyly we can find the unlock at google. so what is a sense of lock data card company give, !!!!

  • Abhi June 3, 2011 1:25 pm

    Quite useful article.
    But you have not told properly about EVDO cards.
    EVDO unlocked data cards are also available(for Example, Micromax 300C).
    These support any CDMA operator R-UIM(SIM).
    EVDO has stable network, and is quite cheaper than 3G and are also backward compatible to 1X CDMA.

  • Mayur Hawaldar June 3, 2011 12:58 pm

    @Manoj Abhigyan
    i also agree with u and bsnl 3g modem support linux os.

  • mansoor Ahmed June 3, 2011 12:18 pm

    Reliance giving unlocked modem???? you written unlock under Reliance….. is it unlocked from beginning or can be unlocked later???

    please confirm this

  • Mahmood Junaid June 3, 2011 11:37 am

    today i receieved msg from docomo that i will get 2gb for 48rs with one mnth… So i hope docomo hadnt rationalized there 2g gprs packs…

  • TD June 3, 2011 10:18 am

    Reliance giving unlocked modem???? you written unlock under Reliance….. is it unlocked from beginning or can be unlocked later???

  • Manoj Abhigyan June 3, 2011 10:15 am

    jijo :
    It would be better for the new Indian operators to make sure that their 3G modems support linux OS also. There are many linux users, in India, and most of them are techies. 100% of linux users are netizens. Please keep this in mind while new modems are brought out.

    Yes. Agree with you.

  • Manoj Abhigyan June 3, 2011 9:53 am

    Very useful info regarding data card. Thanx…!

  • Amit.G June 3, 2011 9:23 am

    Yes even i prefer Huawei modems because of their durability & better speed. Modem functions smoothly even after dropping it many times. Till now my first modem Huawei EG162G ( idea netsetter unlocked) works absolutely fine…

  • jijo June 3, 2011 8:36 am

    It would be better for the new Indian operators to make sure that their 3G modems support linux OS also. There are many linux users(especially Ubuntu), in India, and most of them are techies. 100% of linux users are netizens. Please keep this in mind while new modems are brought out.

  • Suresh June 3, 2011 8:03 am

    I bought Huawei UMG 1831 21.6 Mbps modem through ebay india six months before for Rs.2800, Unlocked one, I am currently using with BSNL 3G sim and getting speed up to 1 Mbps, But using airtel 2G makes hard to connect. The software they gave along with this modem not that much good, It is slow and balance check option not availble,

  • Ishwar June 3, 2011 7:57 am

    Recently I bought Micromax 352G Data Card, this is best I have used and have good speed and I can change SIM as per my need. You will get best 2g speed of the operator whose tower is nearest at you.
    It costs Rs. 1950/- at Raisar Plaza, Jaipur.

    Ishwar Singh

  • VaidiyanathanRamanathan June 3, 2011 7:43 am

    The article is excellent.However EVDO is more stable than 3G. Please write about available EVDO data cards and price

  • gauravrockz June 3, 2011 7:12 am

    please tell me which dashboard able to make video call???

    and plese dont buy hyuwai e177 modem comes with docomo it gets heated up only after half hour of usage

  • Dr.Pratik June 3, 2011 7:12 am

    i am not selling anything.i just want our people not to get in locked stuff after paying full upfront price for device.

  • Dr.Pratik June 3, 2011 7:11 am

    this all 3G devices are running on one or other chipset.but they are all same things.
    speed updates are coming from firmware upgrades in case of HSDPA.
    what i like here is reliance is selling unlocked devices after charging full market price and all rest guys are charging you full price and then also giving LOCKED devices.
    When you purchase locked devices which can only be used on one particular network,we expect subsidy in the deal.
    this operators are doing double scam here to customer.
    I urge all buyers to not to go for Locked hardware.
    get full worth of your money.
    get unlocked stuff.

  • epynic June 3, 2011 6:18 am

    Did you miss these

    telecomtalk.info/iwebleaf-comes-with-cheapest-3g-data-card-at-rs1300/50814/

    :-P :-P