Reliance’s 3G Tariff Game vs Vodafone’s Be Smart 3G Initiative

Vodafone India has recently started a brand campaigning in Mumbai to increase 3G penetration in the circle. ‘Be Smart‘, as it is called will promote 3G services to Vodafone’s smartphone customer base. The brand promotion of Vodafone 3G comes at a time when Reliance Communication just launched 3G services at 2G prices. Airtel had launched an One-Time-Recharge of 3G pack at 2G price – but with out any big promotion – probably they are waiting for feedback.


Incidentally Mumbai is Vodafone’s one of most successful circle – Vodafone leads here with 6.5 million customers (April data, COAI), accounts for highest postpaid customers and highest data revenue and 3G revenue is growing at 12-14% on month-on-month basis.

While Reliance is playing a price game to tap smartphone and tablet users in 13 circles, Vodafone with 9 circles has just started an initiative to push 3G. And to start with Vodafone chose its best circle – Mumbai where socioeconical status is also good to drive 3G adoption among masses.

Now what I said earlier, cutting down Pay-As-You-Go data tariff on 2G and 3G is a welcome move but it can’t give a break-through in interet usage among Indians.

Vodafone clearly stated that there is no reduction of tariff of exisiting 3G packs, but introduced a new plan – for Rs 44 you can get 175 MB data for 7 days.

Our beloved reader, Esmail Beguwala pointed out that Reliance is doing no good with these low cost 3G data plans. I disagree with him. I already made a story welcoming Reliance’s move to start tariff war on 3G turf. However as he told that Reliance hiked prices on 5GB+ plans and removed long validity plans (reason is simple why I invest for future, while in future 3G data will get cheap for sure. Remember Reliance Jio 4G is coming), I like to say one thing 3G is tricky business for all mobile operators in India. Reliance used their customers’ data usage pattern to bring the revisions and targeting mobile, smartphone and tablet users whose usage per month alway below 4 GB. They are not looking into dongle users who are going to use 3G on laptops and desktops. Regular and popular plans at a 2G rate is certainly welcome move from Reliance.

Now see what Vodafone will do. They are not engaging into tariff war rather via this campaigning they will educate people about other sides of 3G apart from just internet – popular mobile applications like videos and music, navigation, social networking, online gaming and live stock market updates; in short people will learn to get maximum out of his handsets with Vodafone 3G. That’s a different approach compared to Reliance.

At the end I welcome both moves from Reliance and Vodafone as both are targeting 3G customers, in different ways. But Vodafone must keep in mind that Indians love price game – make it cheap, sell in volumes and count profits. Either you response to tariff war (which is going to be intense with Reliance Jio’s entry with 4G/LTE) or you bleed!

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  • Ash February 6, 2014 1:33 pm

    vodaphone 2G is better than reliance 3G

  • Anand Poojara September 7, 2013 7:11 am

    Vodafone is offering 3G at 2G price in Gujarat for selected prepaid user with Rs.122 for 1 GB 3G data.

  • raman kumar August 26, 2013 8:12 pm

    i’m getting only 240-320kbps (30-40kBps) from bsnl 3g in ambala (haryana). please tell me which service provider has better 3g speed in haryana.

  • anish salian August 18, 2013 12:36 pm

    obviously reliance have a edge over other operators now,i use to pay rs125 for vodafone 2g pack and reliance is giving 3g at rs 123 so why should i go for vodafone,moreover 3g coverage of reliance is decent,am waiting for vodafone to slash their 3g rates ,atleast rs 150 is good enough fr a gb data,or else will b switching to reliance…

  • AJAY August 1, 2013 7:45 pm

    Hi, I have a karbonn tab ST 10 , not too sure if it supports gsm or cdma dongle. If I Buy a unlocked dongle and insert a 3G reliance sim will that work at 123 for 30 days and 1GB ?

  • ARUN KUMAR July 31, 2013 7:17 am

    i m from kerala.. idea is the best 3g operator here.. i m using vodafone for 2g @ an avrg speed of 200 kbps , airtel for voice & sms & idea for 3g @ an avg speed of 3.5 mbps.. in terms of customer care airtel is best

  • Rishi Gupta July 29, 2013 12:56 pm

    I dont think Vodafone offer stands no where in the race of the Reliance 3g offer of giving 3g at the rates of 2g.. Also Reliance is focussing on all the customers and are motivating the general people to shift to 3g handsets and enjoy the services at easy cost per month..
    This has now created the pressure on the other companies to launch offers to compete the 123 plan …!!!!!!

  • res July 29, 2013 12:25 pm

    Yeah, what you forget is that Reliance cant sustain such pricing and will take heavy losses, while Vodafone will make a profit. Vodafone can afford to lose a few customers, they have almost twice as many as Reliance.

    • Rudradeep Biswas July 29, 2013 9:43 pm

      Vodafone has better network due to 900MHz spectrum.
      Reliance has less customers than Vodafone because Vodafone is present for more time and Reliance GSM on 1800MHz had very bad reputation among people.
      See Reliance & Aircel are offering 2GB UL/mo for 3 months for Rs 300 approx = people are buying their SIMs while in Kolkata Vodafone 3G customers are mostly very few ADRPU customers.

  • sayantan July 29, 2013 9:23 am

    what principles is vodafone following!!!! cheap 3G=more customers=more money to vodafone….reliance’s 3G coverage is much better in wb,kolkata… w.b 3G coverage wise Reliance>>airtel>bsnl=voda>>>>>>>>>>>aircel.

    • UT May 16, 2014 4:44 am

      RIL 3g is pathetic in Parnashree behala ……..

  • Saurabh July 28, 2013 11:26 pm

    Yes. Aircel is looking for a merger but as the speculation tells, they gonna merge with Tata once the M&A rules are out. It will be like two sinking ships trying to save each other. AVoId has reached a stage where giving them a competition is a tough task. So Tata-Aircel merger won’t affect them at all and both are struggling with cash problem. The infusion of fresh equity seems a distant dream. Investors will find it better to have 5 percent in AVoId than 51-74 percent in either Tata or Aircel.

    Btw They did shutdown their services here 7-8 months ago but their network is still live wherever they installed their own BTS including my place. I don’t understand the logic behind this. They aren’t sharing their network either then why wasting resources and money on diesel for running it during power cut. The only reason I see is our town shares border with town in Himachal and Aircel is providing services there and it is an industrial area and the workforce of the factories and their management reside in our town due to lack of better facilites there. So in order to avoid roaming cost on partner network, they have kept their BTS alive here. That HP town is just 8 Kms away from our town. If I search for network manually on roof top, it shows 15 operators, 8 local and 7 of HP.
    Sometimes to check roaming plan, I go to rooftop and select HP networks. lol

    • MOBILEADDICT July 30, 2013 7:19 pm

      read somewhere tata merging with MTS ……………?if docomo quits……..

      • Duane Bayliss August 1, 2013 3:58 pm

        @ MOBILEADDICT – first it was TATA-UNINOR, then TATA-MTS and now TATA-AIRCEL !!

    • Duane Bayliss August 1, 2013 3:59 pm

      @ SAURABH – really interesting … which town is this Saurabh?
      Also apart from HP which other state towers do you get?
      Do share the same.

  • sand July 28, 2013 8:34 pm

    Recently i heard from some guy who is an insider that aircel may start services in Kerala once the merger plans are out by end of this month.
    Dont know about the credibility of this info though.

    • Tharun George July 28, 2013 9:15 pm

      Even if they start again who is going to take Aircel again? Every one hates them becuase they shutdown without notice and no time to MNP. After merger they don’t have to start again if merging with Docomo or other existing operator.

  • kannadas July 28, 2013 8:13 pm

    Why you depromote the bsnl broband promote to Vodafone? Bsnl already have 3g dongle why not write about this.
    Bsnl have many cheaper plans in 3g . But vodafone has costly plans and coverage too not so good compare bsnl . MOST IMPORTANT THING BSNL HAS CARRY FORWARD THE UNUSED DATA TO NEXT RECHARGE

    • Tharun George July 28, 2013 9:12 pm

      I never promote Vodofone, I like Idea better. They have blanket 3G coverage across kerala. Not only BSNL, reliance too have carry forward. I am using 15GB which I got before reliance 2G price hike even after 7 months.

      I was depromoting all broadband, not only BSNL and promoting 3G not only vodafone 3G.

      • Rudradeep Biswas July 28, 2013 9:25 pm

        I don’t see BSNL is doing good on 3G space except in South India where they have robust network in all fields. BSNL is a shame in North and East circles. Here in Kolkata most 3G BTS are 3.6 Mbps and with 2G users got access to 3G at 128kbps BSNL3G is quite slow here. Also poor maintenance causes downtimes too frequently.

        • Tharun George July 28, 2013 10:12 pm

          In kerala also BSNL network not so good. After initial launch in 2009 they didn’t add any new 3G sites. Speed is like broadband, 1.70Mbps max I got. Where as idea covered 50% sites 2700 out of 5700 3G enabled within 2 years of launch and all of them 7.2mbps or 21mbps.

          BSNL performs better in south, but due to lack of equipment and delayed tenders they fall behind private operators. 2G network too slow, EVDO and WiMax no update after launch. Broadband seems to keep up.

        • chandra July 28, 2013 10:40 pm

          I’m from WB circle. I absolutely agree with you. There is a catch in BSNL. Sometimes after recharging my sim with a GPRS pack in BSNL, i get 3G speed below 3.6 Mbps. 3G at the price of 2G !
          No other private operators give 3G speed after recharging a GPRS pack. Does it?
          Also BSNL has wide 3G coverage across West Bengal, that’s a plus.

        • Kanaga Deepan N July 28, 2013 10:45 pm

          BSNL is NOT good in south as many North-Indians are thinking, imho… May be its NOT as bad as BSNL-North…

          But still its 3G coverage is very very spotty. Very very low speed. Too much downtimes. PINGs will be in SECONDS, not milliseconds…

  • Vineet July 28, 2013 8:05 pm

    Network wise reliance is very good in Bihar as it operates in 900mhz and Vodafone network sucks big time as it operates in 1800mhz.

    • Kunal Gautam July 29, 2013 12:17 am

      Cannot agree, while roaming last month, Vodafone network was only network which I found working on most of the place. Reliance (GSM & CDMA) signal was very poor in my village. And don’t ask about BSNL, even electricity remains for more time then their network(P.S. Nearest BSNL Tower is just 400mts away).
      Yes in City area Reliance has nice coverage, so do Vodafone and BSNL also have. But I face too many cross or wrong connection x_x

  • CHAITANYA DAS July 28, 2013 7:16 pm


  • Saurabh July 28, 2013 6:47 pm

    As far as I know Idea 3G network is managed by NSN in HP and not Ericsson. But who cares? If you’re getting good services, it doesn’t matter who is managing it. Idea is good with its 3G coverage and yes you’re right with that. I too get full signal indoor and it is even better than BSNL/Videocon/Tata Docomo/Reliance 2G network here. Well, every company checks the quality of gears before giving the contract and after it is implemented.

    Our telcos follow circle based strategy and provide contract to some vendors for some circles and for others they chose different vendors.

    There is no company in Haryana using gears supplied by ZTE. But BSNL has given them contract and expansion is expected to complete by November. Lets see with such a cheap per subscriber contract, what kind of services BSNL customers get in coming days.

  • aneesh babu July 28, 2013 6:40 pm

    I am a user of reliance cdma from 2005.for 198 recharge I am getting 2gb data with a speed of 1 to 2 mb/s in all time by using their evdo network.. good network coverage too.. reliance always good

  • sAm July 28, 2013 3:28 pm

    Voda will teach Rcom will gain..

  • Tharun George July 28, 2013 2:44 pm

    Instead of Vodafone making customer awareness about using 3G on mobile. They should sell 3G dongle as broadband replacements.

    Many people are unaware that 3G dongle with Rs 250 1GB plan is better than BSNL basic broadband with Rs 250 + tax at 2mbps. 3G is faster, cheaper, reliable and portable compared to BSNL Basic broadband. Also much easier to get connection compared to BSNL Broadband.

    • kannadas July 28, 2013 8:13 pm

      Why you depromote the bsnl broband promote to Vodafone? Bsnl already have 3g dongle why not write about this.
      Bsnl have many cheaper plans in 3g . But vodafone has costly plans and coverage too not so good compare bsnl . MOST IMPORTANT THING BSNL HAS CARRY FORWARD THE UNUSED DATA TO NEXT RECHARGE

      • Tharun George July 28, 2013 9:06 pm

        I am not promoting BSNL. I am depromoting basic broadband and promoting 3G.

        Yes BSNL has good 3G plans and also other operators like Idea, Airtel, Reliance, Aircel and Docomo has good 3G plans. But I have seen people still choosing Broadband and paying Rs 250 + tax for 1GB at 2mbps. 3G is better.

    • Kanti July 28, 2013 8:50 pm

      VODAFONE k achha add karleto hoo……….Try karo ADV me tume vi promot kar sakte hai……..

    • dskushwaha July 31, 2013 3:57 pm

      There is no replacement of BSNL’s night unlimited plan

  • Sudar July 28, 2013 2:42 pm

    Airtel, Vodafone, Idea very costly 3G packs

  • Anil July 28, 2013 12:13 pm

    A retailer in my area got an advertisement poster from reliance to hang on his shop about the recent 1gb@124 offer. He says its a promotional offer for 2 months.

  • teletalk July 28, 2013 12:12 pm

    we are in gujarat and gujarat is non 3g circle of reliance gsm… this game of reliace is not affected us……

  • Saurabh July 28, 2013 11:51 am

    Voda is doing the right thing. As I’ve said many a times that people lacks awareness regarding mobile Internet which is another reason for prices being high as operators know that with less customers they can’t being it down. As more and more people get aware, they will make others know and adoption will slowly pick up resulting in price fall in future.

    Vodafone don’t have much 3G coverage in Haryana and it is restricted to some cities only but their 2G speed is just rocking at 220-240Kbps (Avg). Actually even if they expand, they won’t get much customers here as our circles is too price sensitive and people will avoid using 3G until unless prices come to as low as Rs.150 for 2GB. So not spending on 3G is good for them right now. But Idea is expanding very fast and I feel that they will have 50% 3G coverage in next 1-2 year if they continue at same pace.

    Reliance don’t have license and they did the right thing by not taking it in Haryana as they are not users choice here. Tata don’t know what to do, so they are still living in 2011 with same cell 3G enabled as it was that time. Now people don’t need them with 40 mins disconnection. BSNL- I don’t know why they were given license in Haryana. Coverage only in cities and it is useless as service rarely works. Better give their license to Airtel or Videocon (just joking).

    • anubhav11 July 28, 2013 12:19 pm

      Offtopic but still..
      @saurabh i am from kullu H.P. as a telecom enthu. I would like to ask a few queries regarding your personal exp.
      1. In your terms which one is better idea or vodafone (in voice clarity,3g, overall coverage).
      2.if possible can you tell me that which vendors supply or maintain networks for idea & vodafone in hr & pb..and your preference..
      3. In hp idea does not provide good stv as compared to vodafone but has much better voice clarity than voda, did u exp. The same while roaming in hp..
      4. Im a frequent roamer in pb and would like to know about the status on idea 3g in pb..voda does not provide 3g in my circle nor in pb…


      • Saurabh July 28, 2013 4:02 pm

        Here are the answers.

        1. You are right that Vodafone is better with cheap tariffs (STVs) then Idea in HP. As far as network is concerned both are operating on 1800MHz but Idea has some edge over Voda in terms of coverage in terms of presence. We can’t compare them on 3G as Idea has license while Vodafone don’t. Idea 3G is present at Kullu and have around 19 3G enabled cell sites in and around Kullu but you have to check it yourself at your place for signal. You may face low signal problem if you are living down the hill in a closed environment means having lots of homes and tress around. Beside cities 102 well known towns and villages now have 3G coverage there. So if 3G is you need then you don;t have the option then to go with Idea. Otherwise if you don’t have to choose between these two, you can check Reliance or Airtel too but they have lesser coverage as compared to Idea. I’ve tested Idea 3G in HP at different places and average speed is 5-7Mbps which is lower as compared with what Idea provides in Haryana.

        2. Telecom vendor that is supplying equipment and managing network for Idea in Haryana for both 2G/3G is NSN (Nokia Siemens Network) while in Punjab its 2G network is maintained by NSN and they are yet to launch 3G there as due to a tussle with DoT over their acquisition of Spice Telecom, so they are yet to get the 3G spectrum. In Haryana Idea/Vodafone is operating on 900MHz and have finest coverage. Vodafone’s network is managed by Ericsson in both Haryana & Punjab and network gears are also supplied by them. Vodafone has good coverage in both the states while Idea in Punjab is poor at some places not all.

        My personal preference is Idea whose network is being managed by NSN which provides far better experience than Ericsson. I had faced problem with operators in past whose network was being managed by Ericsson.

        Let me give you an example. Until 2012, Airtel network in Haryana was managed by Ericsson and network gear was also supplied by them. They (Airtel) didn’t renewed their contract with them this time and now NSN is managing it. Airtel which lost 7 lakh subscribers has now regained 4.5 lakh of them as network has improved a lot since NSN has come in. NSN has really got an intelligent network team who knows how to use the spectrum efficiently and is far better than Ericsson.

        3. Yes, I have experienced the same. Idea voice quality is good as compared to Vodafone. Voda sounds cracks sometimes and sometimes receiver don;t get any voice. So you have to disconnect and call again.

        4. I’ve already told that Idea is yet to launch 3G in Punjab. Until unless their tussle with DoT ends over Idea-Spice merger, they won’t get spectrum. But the information I have is the matter is expected to solve in next 2-3 months and once it is done Idea will get the spectrum.

        So, all in all I would prefer Idea to you which has good 3G coverage across HP, Haryana and will be in Punjab and they also have license and providing 3G services in UP East and UP west, J&K. So most of states in North have Idea 3G except Delhi and Rajasthan.

        Vodafone is good in both Punjab and Haryana and can be a option but they don’t have 3G license in Punjab and HP too. But I’m satisfied with both in terms of network and service quality. As far as network on the outskirts and villages are concerned, Vodafone scores over Idea by 2-5%.

        • anubhav11 July 28, 2013 6:18 pm

          Thanks a lot!!!… vodafone uses NSN Network whereas idea and airtel have Ericsson…and idea’s 3g coverage is absolutely the best among all in my area. Sometimes even better than its 2g signals!!

  • Vinayak Pai July 28, 2013 11:47 am

    Reliance strategy is very good at targetting the 2g customers onto the 3g bandwagon. But at the same time, their networks should be capable of handling such load. From a consumer point of view I would vote for the reliance plan. But when it comes to assured quality service, it has to be vodafone. because I am not too sure if Reliance has the best of coverage in all areas.

    • Rudradeep Biswas July 28, 2013 12:50 pm

      Reliance has bad coverage and service issues as they hold spectrum on 1800MHz band, while Vodafone enjoys pan India 900MHz + few 1800MHz band spectrum – so their service is better than Reliance. In coming days COAI group aka A-Vo-Id is trying to use the same spectrum even after their licenses collapse – they are against spectrum refarming as well as Govt’s plan to bring their spectrum on auction.

      • Esmail July 28, 2013 1:25 pm

        In Mumbai circle Reliance has a unilateral network sharing deal with Loop Mobile (BPL) which is one of the oldest operators in the circle, Loop mobile operates on 900MHz spectrum and has way better coverage than Reliance in Mumbai which operates in 1800MHz band, so I keep my cell setting as Operator selection ‘Manual” instead of automatic and select Loop as 2G network, while continuing to use Reliance as the 3G network, which ensures good network coverage at low tariffs, kind of a win win situation.

        • Mukul Jain July 28, 2013 2:05 pm

          I fully agree with Esmail, smart user.
          Reliance has the best 3G of India in Mumbai.
          With 2G network sharing with Loop, they have become the best in 2G as well.

        • Tharun George July 28, 2013 2:38 pm

          Now they have similar deals with Aircel and Docomo too. In kerala these too had the worst coverage, now aircel shutdown too. Two worst coverage network won’t make any difference, it still will be worst coverage. They should have made deal with an operator having 900Mhz spectrum.

          • Tharun George July 28, 2013 4:18 pm

            Loops have 900Mhz spectrum in Mumbai. Rcom will have to put similar deals in other circle instead of Aircel and Docomo.

            • Rudradeep Biswas July 28, 2013 9:27 pm

              They can’t because in India most 900MHz band are used by BSNL, Airtel, Vodafone and Idea. There is no use to sharing with BSNL and AVoId group will not make deals with RCom.

              • Tharun George July 28, 2013 10:14 pm

                Hope Gov re-farm 900Mhz spectrum and end AVoId dominance.