Sunday, March 6, 2011

Going prepaid pays

Every time I have taken a broadband connection, I have opted to go prepaid - first with Tata Indicom Broadband, then with MTNL, and most recently, with Reliance Net Connect. I would classify myself as a heavy user of the net, still I have found that the prepaid broadband plans of all these telcos have provided me with adequate bytes, and at a much lower price than a postpaid plan.

Just one disclaimer - heavy user, is not the same as heavy downloader :). I need the full bandwith of 2 mbps but I do not need unlimited GB for music/ movie downloads. In this context, prepaid plans work just fine.

Here are my examples of prepaid vs. post paid usage

I paid MTNL approximately Rs. 6000 per annum for 25 GB of data last year and the prepaid connection ran out exactly 10 days before the recharge was due. At Rs.500 per month, what I paid was equivalent to a basic broadband plan. Some months, I am continuously travelling, and I did not need to pay for *non-used* bandwith or rental in these months. Some months, my usage is extra heavy and I do not have to worry about that. As a bonus, for an entire year, I do not have to worry about paying bills on time. I have checked my usage online and figured that I use an average of 2-3 GB a month. Needless to say, I have  renewed the plan this year too.

2) Reliance Net Connect Plus
This is a company that is determined to extract a minimum ARPU #poundofflesh# from every user. I started out with a 10GB monthly data plan but soon figured that it was too steep for me at Rs.1200 per month. My usage of NetConnect is very light - one of the reasons for this is the extremely slow speeds, which are woefully short of 3.1 mbps promised.

I had two options at basic price - 512MB at Rs.499 per month or pre-paid Rs.3000 for 18 GB. Obviously the latter is a more attractive one, despite the added effort of converting it to a pre-paid connection.

3) Tata Indicom Broadband
I had a time-based high-speed plan which I have now discontinued. This plan made a lot of sense when I was still salaried. I got unlimited net access in office, so I only needed a few hours of access at nights or over weekends. This plan worked out to approximately Rs.5000 for 720 hours and it also lasted a year. If I renewed it on time, I could carry over unused hours.

My observation from all my examples is that prepaid plans with a higher validity (especially the 1 year plans) are extremely useful as they offer the economy of prepaid, combined with the convenience of not needing a sudden recharge. Also what you pay, is what you get - without the service tax and other hidden charges that mount up on monthly bills.

I have saved at least Rs.6000-7000 per year on each broadband connection by opting for prepaid, rather than postpaid and that is not a small amount. 

As a next step, I am contemplating whether to switch to a prepaid mobile connection, but I have been hesitating to do this. Mainly because I use the phone so much, especially while roaming and I do not want to end up always having to do last minute online recharges. The highest value recharge voucher that Airtel offers is Rs.3000 and my monthly bill averages Rs.1500, going upto Rs.2000 when I am on roaming. Still after my analysis, I have come to the conclusion that prepaid options are always money saving and worth checking out!