As we reported previously, Airtel has launched 3G services on 900MHz in Mumbai circle which they have termed as Platinum 3G and claim that it has 30% better indoor coverage and is 34% faster than traditional 3G on 2100MHz band. Also Airtel claims that videos stream 25% faster and battery on platinum 3G lasts 16% longer than on traditional 3G.
We decided to put Platinum 3G through our litmus test and find out the truth behind the claims, we got ourselves an Airtel U-Sim from Mumbai circle (LTE-ready 128K sim) and tested it in a Oneplus One phone at different times of the day and both indoors and outdoors, the results are listed below.
Airtel Platinum 3G Speed test results:
The speeds varied considerably through the day with peak hours giving speeds around 3.5 Mbps at 4.30PM. Speeds increased to double in the non-peak hours touching 7 Mbps at 9.30PM and increased even further to 10.5 Mbps when tested post-midnight early morning at 2AM. The speeds are no doubt better than operators like Rcom that average between 1.5 Mbps in peak hours to 3 Mbps in non-peak hours. The upload speeds were consistently low with peak speeds just touching 1 Mbps.
Airtel Platinum 3G Coverage aspect:
We tested the SIM outdoors in heavily crowded areas as well as more remote locations, at both places there was full 3G signal when testing in WCDMA only mode. Indoor coverage was also full signal owing to the better penetration of 900MHz band.
Airtel Platinum 3G Video streaming:
We tested the Platinum 3G for streaming videos on YouTube which loaded flawlessly with zero buffering. To take things a step further and to raise the bar higher we used platinum 3G on a VPN with a virtual USA server based physically in Singapore to stream an episode on the Netflix app. The video streamed without stopping to buffer, even though, all data was being routed to Singapore and back.
We did not notice much of a difference in the battery life and certainly not the 16% that Airtel claims in comparison to traditional 3G networks.
We tested voice calling on the Platinum 3G network and the voice was crystal clear with no disturbance, there was no lag whatsoever. While speaking on the go there was flawless tower hopping with no call drops.