Unlimited wireless internet has become almost a myth in India. Except state-owned BSNL, no other companies are offering ‘True’ unlimited data on any wireless connection. Please correct me if I’m wrong. You might have seen many so-called ‘unlimited’ plans available on 3G or other wireless connections. However, if you dig a little bit, you will notice how ISPs are misusing the ‘unlimited’ term to lure customers.
In reality, no plans are unlimited, your speed will be throttled after consuming a certain amount of data. It will become impossible to use internet at this reduced speed. This throttled speed varies from ISP to ISP. While some reduce it to 72 Kbps, some even make worse by limiting to 32 Kbps that is even lower than speed of ancient dial-up connection!
In reality for the sake of ‘unlimited’ plans you are actually getting limited data plans. While these limited plans might be suitable for some users, but, if you are a heavy internet user like me, you will be disappointed.
I started using BSNL EVDO connection almost five years ago when 3G was not so popular as today. There were very few wireless internet service providers (Tata and Reliance) and those companies were using CDMA 1X connection at that time. The reason why I switched to BSNL EVDO was mainly because of the true unlimited data plan they were offering for Rs 750/month, which was a decent price considering the unlimited data. This is a long-term review of BSNL EVDO service.
BSNL EVDO Review:
BSNL EVDO Speed test:
Let’s talk about the main part that is the internet speed. I have a ZTE AC8700 modem which is a CDMA2000 EVDO Rel. 0 modem. It supports maximum 2.4 Mbps download speed and 153 kbps upload speed on EVDO network and maximum speed of 153.6 on the CDMA2000 1X network. This is actually an older generation modem. BSNL started rolling out faster Rev. A network that now offers 3.1 Mbps download speed and 1.8 Mbps upload speed. My testing is based on an older generation modem so the performance will be affected by the hardware limitations. This modem works on both 32 bit & 64 bit Windows and Linux operating systems.
I was using the same modem for last five years and fortunately the speed is constant till today. Unlike other networks which has become slower (both MTS MBlaze and Airtel 3G are now slower here). Most of the time I get around 1-1.2 Mbps download speed. That is good enough for surfing the internet and streaming videos on YouTube at 360p or 480p resolution. The download speed is mostly stable except some occasional connection hiccups which happens a few times a month. Sometimes the speed goes up to 1.5 Mbps but it never crossed 2 Mbps at my place. Internet Download Manager (IDM) is recommended to achieve the maximum download speed.
Internet speed depends on the distance from the base station and the number of users. The signal strength is good here, I get 4 out of 5 bars all the time. Your mileage may vary depending on your location and device used. I tested this modem on different locations, sometimes I was lucky to get 2 Mbps download speed and sometimes on crowded networks the speed dropped below 500 Kbps.
Upload speed is a different story. It is slow, painfully slow. Around 100-120 Kbps. This is mostly due to the modem I’m using. It supports maximum 153 kbps upload speed. The network is capable of offering better performance if you use a newer modem with 1.8 Mbps upload speed, you can expect far better speed.
BSNL EVDO Coverage and national Roaming:
BSNL EVDO is available in all major cities except Delhi and Mumbai. If your city doesn’t have EVDO coverage, then the data card will work on CDMA 1X mode which is available all over the India (Except Delhi and Mumbai). It supports nationwide roaming. You might have to activate this feature by going to BSNL office. But before solely relying on this connection, make sure that EVDO coverage is present at the place where you are travelling. If EVDO is not present, then it will work on the 1X connection (Max speed 144 Kbps) that is only good for light internet use.
My roaming experience is mixed; in some places it worked flawlessly, but in others it refused to get connected. I’ll recommend to keep a backup 3G connection ready while travelling.
Unlimited data? Any hidden limits?
When it comes to data limit, this thing rocks. BSNL EVDO offers true unlimited plans without any compromises. There is no Fair Usage Policy (FUP), no speed throttling and no hidden terms. You can use as much data as you wish unlike other similar wireless connections.
I’ve consumed over 40 GB data a month and have never experienced any reduced speed. I’m quite happy with this connection. Once you start using unlimited connection, you will never get back to limited data plans.
If you want to use BSNL EVDO on mobile phones, tablet or any other device, you can get a Wi-Fi 3G router and share the internet connection. There are many Wi-Fi 3G routers like TP-Link MR 3220 which supports ZTE AC8700 and other BSNL EVDO data cards. In this way you can just pay for one internet connection and use it on several devices. You can replace your home wired internet connection with BSNL EVDO if you want.
BSNL EVDO plans:
BSNL EVDO data card can be purchased by paying Rs 1199. It is available with both prepaid and postpaid connections. There is an activation charge of Rs 350 and Rs 500 for prepaid and postpaid respectively. There is a Rs 1000 security deposit for postpaid connection which is refundable.BSNL EVDO Static IP is available for Rs 150/month on postpaid connection.
Now let’s take a look at the data plans and tariffs. BSNL is offering different plans with EVDO connection to satisfy the need of all users. I’ll recommend to go for the unlimited plans if possible.
BSNL EVDO postpaid tariff: The base plan starts at Rs 199/month, which offers 1.5 GB data/month and the unlimited plan costs Rs 750/month. There prices are without taxes, so the actual price will be little higher.
BSNL EVDO prepaid tariff: The prepaid plans are similar to the postpaid plans.
I don’t have any major complaints with BSNL EVDO connection. A few times a month I experience connection issues when the modem will not get connected to the internet. But usually it gets solved within a few hours. It should not be a major problem for most. The upload speed issue is due to the hardware I’m using, the network cannot be blamed for this.
After using BSNL EVDO as my primary internet connection for a long time, I’ll happily recommend it to anyone who is looking for a true unlimited wireless internet connection. At present time when we have blazing fast 4G internet connections available, the speed of BSNL EVDO might not be able to match it, but the true unlimited plan is the biggest advantage.
If you ask me, I’ll take a 3 Mbps unlimited connection over 10 Mbps connection with just 20 GB data limit any day. It is my personal preference though. If you want faster speed then look elsewhere. MTS MBlaze Ultra or any 4G/3G connection will provide better speed.
BSNL is not promoting EVDO on TV or other media like other competitors. Not many people are aware of this. If you are interested taking BSNL EVDO connection, then go and visit your nearby BSNL office and ask for it.
If anyone is using BSNL EVDO connection, then do share your feedback with us. If you have any queries then drop them in the comment section below.