Wireless Broadband – 3G or EVDO What is the Choice?

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We at India  have been watching a tag-of-war between mobile operators on basis of voice call and SMS tariffs for a while; it also put its feet in the desk of VAS to cut down the ARPU and net profits of mobile operators in an overcrowded market which brings mobile phones to the masses.

But we never saw the intense tariff war on internet or data segment in spite of about 373 companies having ISP license from TRAI out of which 99 are category A ISP (i.e. they can offer Internet services over all India). In 2004 Broadband Policy was announced with directions for the growth of Broadband which was defined as always on connection with minimum speed of 256 Kbps. It is fact that on wireline broadband segment BSNL is still the king, making its landline business still viable. But we need affordable Mobile Broadband.

In mobile broadband market we presently have only two technologies available – EVDO from CDMA operators (Tata Photon+, Reliance Netconnect Broadband+, MTS MBlaze, BSNL EVDO and Virgin vFlash) and 3G from GSM operators (BSNL and MTNL covering the nation). Private GSM operators who won 3G licences will roll out 3G high speed data services shortly, as spectrum allocation hopefully will be in coming September.

I am often asked “what to choose 3G or EVDO?” and this question comes only for Internet access while on move, but as I am comparing these two technologies I am covering other conveniences of them also.

Have a look into the exclusive Comparison:

Wireless Broadband

(Tata Photon Plus, Reliance Netconnect Plus, MTS, BSNL EVDO, Virgin)

3G ( GSM )

(BSNL and MTNL – currently offering 3G)

Connection speed Download speed is upto 3.1 Mbps, upload speed upto 1.8Mbps At present download speed upto 3.6Mbps & upload speed upto 384Kbps which can be upgraded to 7.2Mbps and then 10.2Mbps.

BSNL/MTNL already starts selling wireless modems supporting 7.2Mbps, even some handsets (eg Nokia C5) is capable of supporting 10.2Mbps speed.

How to access Mostly using USB data card, only Tata Indicom offers such speed on mobile also.

But you can call, SMS using the data card (if supported) from your computer

Handsets and 3G Modem (USB or PCMCIA interface), Laptops/lablets with 3G SIM slot.
Services apart from internet access Only Mobile TV

Video calling is not available though Tata Indicom launched Photon+ on mobile.

Mobile TV, Video Calling – as SIM is coming with modems also.

While TV thing does not impress me, Video calling on 3G is coolest thing to enjoy.

Device Cost Reliance, MTS, BSNL modem Rs 2299, while Tata Photon+ modem costs Rs 2499. Apart from BSNL other EVDO operators don’t have option to use unlocked/outside purchase. MTNL modem costs Rs 1799

While BSNL’s modem comes around Rs 2000 which supports 3.6Mbps, the modem supports 7.2Mbps costs

Handsets Fewer choices and only Tata Indicom offers EVDO on mobile. A lot of choice is there.

Entry leval Nokia's 2730 Classic offers 384 Kbps seeped and comes at Rs.4200 while Sony Ericsson Naite comes around 6000 bucks with a support of 3.6Mbps bandwidth.

Coverage Compared to 3G, EVDO has limited coverage, while EVDO is not available speed will be as per 1X service (153.6Kbps) 3G have awesome coverage, BSNL is doing an awesome job to cover most of the places before private operators put their footprints in 3G market.

Without 3G, you can still get internet access with 2G network (144 - 240Kbps)

Tariff This is well diversified, for eg BSNL EVDO unlimited comes at just Rs 650/month

While other EVDO operators (all are private telcos) have no unlimited or night-unlimited plan.

3G comes cheaper than EVDO. Unlimited data comes for Rs 2500, MTNL Delhi offering it at Rs 1800

But before you go for these things, know your needs first. If you need to access Internet on move on large scale try to get BSNL EVDO, if available in your working area. If you are using a 3G handget go for 3G - it is excellent one. But you sometimes need this wireless thing and don't have 3G handset or connection I recommend MTS Mblaze, it comes with prepaid packs with lifetime validity, just use once in 180 days and it will be active.However MTS is not the cheapest in terms of tariff plans.

Interestingly most users of EVDO are not happy with the customer care services, and speed with their EVDO connection. Wireless speed depends on various factors like distance from EVDO towers, congestion of network, spectrum allocated to the operator etc.

In BWA auction Mukesh Ambani promoted Reliance Industries owned Infotel Broadband becomes the only pan India basis operator except BSNL. As it is reported they will initially roll out WiMAX, followed by Long Term Evolution (LTE). The first phase of WiMAX will show the speed upto 23 Mbps and the second phase of WiMAX (802.16e), will deliver 50 Mbps. LTE release 8, will offer a hopping 270 Mbps download and 62.7 Mbps upload speeds. May be we will not get such speed, but still can dream for 10Mbps wireless connection in coming years.

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