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When should you opt for 3G connectivity?

This technology enables extremely fast Internet connectivity on the move, but comes with a stiff price tag. So consider your needs before you decide to go for it.

, ET Bureau|
Jan 09, 2012, 09.26 AM IST
When should you opt for  3G connectivity?
It may be the ultimate word when it comes to high-speed Internet on the move, but 3G remains an expensive proposition in the country. Hefty 3G usage can blow a significant hole in your wallet, with most mobile operators providing plans in the range of Rs 500–2,000 a month. And if you happen to be careless, you could end up shelling out thousands of rupees each month. If all you need is basic Internet on your phone, you can get a GPRS/EDGE connection for as low as Rs 99 a month. It will be significantly slower, but keep you connected. So, do you actually need a 3G connection? As in most tech matters, this depends on your needs and how you use your phone. Here’s a look at various situations when 3G might be handy or when it could be substituted with cheaper alternatives.


BlackBerry users will tell you that e-mail connectivity works just as well on GPRS/EDGE. A 3G connection will be useful only if you are the type who sends and downloads hefty attachments (in excess of 2 MB). If not, stick to the old-fashioned connection.
Web browsing

If you surf the Web incessantly on your phone, you would definitely be better off with a 3G connection as there is a significant difference in speed compared with a GPRS/EDGE connection. Pages will load much faster and you will also be able to view video without any time lag. However, if you prefer to only read through websites, a GPRS/EDGE connection will work just fine.

The charge factor

There’s no sugarcoating it. A 3G connection will chew up your mobile phone’s battery, almost halving it, compared with a GPRS/EDGE connection. If you spend a lot of time in areas where power points (of the charging type) are in short supply, we would suggest not investing in a 3G connection. If you are still keen on it, invest in a spare battery or portable charger too.

Video calling

It might not have taken off with the fervour anticipated by tech pundits, but video calling is steadily gaining popularity. If you love seeing the person you are talking to, 3G is essential. A normal GPRS/EDGE connection will simply not be able to handle a video call.

Internet on your (frequent) travels

It might work at almost supersonic speeds at some locations, but 3G connectivity is notoriously erratic in many parts of the country and might just disappear at times. In fact, it can vary between regions within a city. If you are constantly on the move, you might find yourself getting inconsistent speeds. On the other hand, GPRS/EDGE connectivity is more consistent. So, if you want to stay connected even while roaming, we would recommend giving 3G a miss. Don’t be embarrassed about sticking to the older, but more reliable, connectivity. You can opt for 3G for a month or a pay-per-use plan and monitor your needs as well as usage for a short time. Make your final choice after taking into account all the factors as well as the strength of connectivity at the places you visit most frequently.

Phone as a modem

Do you use Internet connectivity to browse the Web and check mail on your phone? Or are there moments when you actually use your phone as a modem to connect other devices, such as a tablet or Notebook, to the Internet? If you do the latter frequently, we would suggest using the much faster 3G connection, as EDGE/GPRS can lag and will be frustrating, especially when you open the desktop versions of websites.

Making the most of 3G
• Got yourself a 3G connection, but are terrified of running up a huge bill? Keep the following points in mind and your bill will remain within bounds.
• Turn off 3G: Simply quit 3G (most smartphones allow you to choose between 2G and 3G connections) when you are not browsing the Internet or making video calls. Fear not, push mail will work as well on an EDGE connection.
• Use specific browsers: Pick browsers like Opera Mini while surfing the Net. These reduce data usage as they compress Web pages before sending them to your device, resulting in lesser data consumption.
• Keep track of usage: Download an application that monitors data, such as the data counter widget on Android, to keep track of your usage.
• Choose mobile versions: Most handset browsers give you the option of viewing desktop or mobile versions of websites. When in doubt, go with the mobile version. They are much lighter in terms of data usage.

Also Read

Airtel shuts down 3G network in Haryana

Airtel stops 3G services in Kolkata

Jio tops 4G download speed chart in July, BSNL fastest in 3G

Airtel to shut down 3G network across India by March; evaluates opportunities on fibre monetisation

Airtel to shut down 3G network across India by March; evaluates opportunities on fibre monetisation

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