I have previously written about my hatred and love for mobile operators in India. Overall, there are some things that are pretty good about mobile operators (for instance, our call rates are definitely lower than most countries) but there are some bad things too. Call drops are one obvious candidate (it's clear that the Indian mobile scene is almost like a cartel now, what with identical call, SMS and data prices across, well, everybody) and of course, most of them have stopped bothering with investing in new infrastructure. In fact, not one day goes without me hearing complaints from other side (when I call people) that they can either not hear or the call just outright disconnects.
Anyway, the whole call drop thing is a story for another day. Today's story is how ironical the data plans that are offered by mobile operators are. Especially there odd data caps and the prices they charge for it.
As part of my job and hobby, I get to meet a lot of students. I also get to meet a lot of people as well. Many of these folks have the most minimalistic mobile data plans. Most of them either use a 50 MB per week packs, or just stick with a 500 MB plan with 2G speeds. Some have decided to not have a data at all as they can get WiFi at home as well as office. Every time I ask them, why won't they just upgrade themselves to 4G/3G and a higher data pack, they say 'what's the point. We cannot use it anyway!'. In fact, if someone were to ask that question to me, I would be giving an identical response.
The reason is, well, the insane prices and the data caps that operators charge here in India. For instance, on my phone I have a 8 G 'unlimited' plan with 3G. I will come to the 'unlimited' part in a while. For the 8 GB of data I am paying 1250 rupees plus service tax and clean tax and education cess and so many other stuff. Overall, I am paying roughly 1400 rupees (give or take a few rupees) for access to 3G 8 GB data. Thankfully, I am on Vodafone which has fantastic speeds where I live and travel (and I travel a lot!) and that means, I can easily get 10 MBPS no matter where I am.
Now, I also have an Apple Music subscription as well as Netflix subscription. Further, I use YouTube of course. A typical album (with 10 songs) on Apple Music will run me about 150 MB. A single 2 hour movie on Netflix will cost me 700 to 900 MB. Half an hour of YouTube will cost me almost 300 MB. That means, a day of regular consumption will easily eat up 1.5 GB on my phone. That means, my 8 GB quota will be over in less than a week. Of course, this does not include other data consumption stuff like emails, whatsapp, photo sharing on Facebook and Instagram.
Now, coming to the 'unlimited' part of my data plan. You see, once I consume my 8 GB, I still have net connectivity at a super awesome blazing speed of 64 kbps. Yep! For some reason, Vodafone (my favorite mobile operator about whom I have heaped praises like crazy) assumes that a speed of 64 kbps is useful for me. Well, it does not. In fact, even email won't sync at that speed. If it does, it usually takes about a minute or two. Browsing is impossible because neither Bing.com and Google.com can respond at
that speed and of course, we can say goodbye to using messengers or streaming video.
So, what exactly are mobile operators playing at? Does it really make sense for me to continue paying 1400 rupees for 8 GB of data every month? With such high prices, how exactly will an everyday individual, students, professionals or anybody for that matter, afford such data?
Now, the entire country and all its mobile operators are going gaga over how fast their 4G is. Seriously though, they are still keeping the same data caps as they did with 3G. That means, with 3G I can finish my data cap in 7 days and with 4G (at least twice as fast) I can finish the same data cap in 3 days.
Awful is the only way this situation can be described. However, I am fingers crossed for Reliance Jio. Apparently, they are going to shake things up and I hope they do.
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