India being a vast country with people living in cities, towns and villages. It is a big problem for Indian Tele companies to provide its services with consistency in every corner of the country. It’s general experience for Indians that a SIM card giving good internet speed in one of the rooms in the house may not even catch signals in other room.
In India, there are around 14 big and small mobile network operators offering prepaid and postpaid services but all can’t top the charts. So, let us look at top 10 best GSM and CDMA mobile cellular network in India:
Airtel is one of the biggest cellular networks in India. It’s services like My plan and Airtel Money are quite popular. Airtel provides some of the very good internet speeds and with its solid coverage, you will rarely have any connectivity issues when travelling. But it is very pricey as compared others but their services are worth paying that little bit extra.
Airtel is second only to BSNL in nationwide coverage providing best connectivity & reliability with good average speed. With 4G roll out, Airtel network is going to be even better given its 4G speed gives good speed.
- Nationwide coverage (Urban and rural)
- Good connectivity
- 4G services
- Solid network
- Good customer care support
- Pricey as compared to others
- Not the fastest net speed (3G)
BSNL or Cellone is unarguably the biggest and most widespread cell phone carrier in India with coast-to-coast nationwide coverage with consistency. With BSNL SIM card in your pocket, you can travel to any corner of the country. The best part of BSNL is it offers 2G and 3G at the same price but its net speed is substandard with very poor internet connectivity.
With solid coverage and great value for money, BSNL is best Bang for your Buck but its poor internet speed and connectivity could be a critical factor.
- Widest network in the country
- Low internet price
- 3G and 2G at same price and same speed
- Many offers based on different categories
- Poor internet speed
- Issues with call and connectivity
- Average customer care support
Idea cellular provides good coverage in urban and rural areas. It provides good internet speed but has expensive tariff plans. You may face few issues of call drops and low signals when travelling but still Idea is very good when it comes to speed and customer service.
If you are looking for something with good speed and stability with good rural coverage then Idea is for you.
- Rural and urban coverage is good
- More reliable in towns and cities
- Good internet speed
- 4G Roll out
- Excellent customer support
- Low signals
- Not suited for travellers
- Expensive internet plans
Vodafone used to be one of the weakest nationwide mobile carriers but with time, this carrier has shown its potential. The services provided by Vodafone are good and so is its 3G speed which is very high as compared to others. But its rural coverage is poor and is suitable only for urban areas.
With average network coverage and the high price, it is liked only by masses but given that its speed is awesome it gives great user experience for any general internet user.
- Excellent internet speed
- Good coverage with excellent stability in urban areas
- Appreciable price
- 4G Services
- Good customer care service
- Not for rural areas
- Do not have country wide coverage
- Issues with call connectivity in many regions of country
#5. Tata DoCoMo
Tata’s collaboration with the Docomo telecom of Japan gave birth to Tata DoCoMo. Docomo’s weakest attribute is its network which is limited only to cities and towns. If you live in an urban area, you’re probably safe, but stepping out too far into the suburbs will cause connectivity problems. But it offers its 3G services at prices which are very low as compared to others. It also offers other services at low cost.
If you live in any urban area than Docomo is meant for you giving you a top notch service with cheapest tariff plans.
- Low internet prices
- Excellent network for towns and cities
- Good internet speed
- Exciting offers
- Not recommended even when travelling
- Extremely poor rural coverage
- Unstable signals in many parts of the country
Aircel may not have a PAN India network but its presence in limited demography in southern and eastern India with lower customer base has made it favourite one because of low congestion in the networks, excellent customer support, low prices and good offers. It provides 3G and 4G services at affordable price and superb high speed. A survey conducted by Mint-instaVaani ranked Aircel as a top cellular network in India better ranked than Airtel and BSNL but looking at its limited presence they love to be customer-centric organisation.
- Superb speed
- 3G and 4G at affordable price
- Excellent network and connectivity
- Excellent customer care support
- Only serves limited demographic region in the country (South and eastern part)
- Do not have nation wide network
#7. Reliance Jio
Reliance Jio Infocomm is said to be world’s biggest startup with over Rs. 1.5 Lakh Crore invested in this mega project. The company has acquired rights for 4G services in all circles of the country. Of course, it is too early to talk about the projects success but for sure Jio has created ripples across the telecom sector of this country. It offers free voice calls, no roaming charges, unlimited night data and also provides free subscription to the bunch of useful apps like JioTV, Jio Music etc.
- No charges over voice calls
- Good 4G Speed
- Free subscription to Apps
- Low tariff plans rate
- Poor voice quality
- Call Drops
- Fluctuating connectivity
- No 3G phone support
#8. Reliance Telecom
Reliance was first introduced as CDMA network and later it stepped into GSM field. With reliance, you will get some very good 2G and 3G data plans at very low cost. It didn’t acquire many circles for 3G but still it offers good speed on EDGE. You may face some issues while calling like voice echo and zero response. It is also going to launch its 4G services in near future as the company has partnered with Reliance Jio.
With good internet speed and low pricing, reliance is a great network to use but it has poor rural coverage.
- Low internet price
- Affordable 4G prices
- Good connectivity and customer service
- Poor rural coverage
- Voice call and network issues
#9. Telenor (Uninor)
Telenor is introduced recently in India. It is one of the cheapest network in India with offers which are mind blowing but coverage is extremely poor and so is call quality. Telenor services are available in only 6 circles, serving more than 30 million customers.
Do not use until you assure having a good coverage in your area.
- Very low internet prices
- Low call rates
- Superb offers
- No 3G only 2G
- Pathetic internet speeds
- Poor voice calls and network
Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) is a state-owned service provider headquartered at New Delhi which provides its services in metro cities of Mumbai and Delhi. Due to heavy competition in the market, the company is losing its base and money. It offers broadband internet and 3G services. The company also operates in Mauritius as Mahanagar Telephone Mauritius Limited (MTML).
#11. MTS India
Mobile TeleSystems provides wireless voice, broadband Internet, messaging and data services in India. MTS operates in 9 circels across India. It offers high-speed broadband data and serves around 9 million subscribers.
Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q)
1. Which is best SIM Card in India for internet ?
Ans: If you look for the country as a whole rather than different circles, BSNL is the best. It acquired right to provide 3G services in the entire country. Also, it offers 3G and 2G at the same price. In fact, there is no 2G for BSNl. After BSNL we recommend Airtel.
2. Which is best SIM in India for rural/village areas ?
Ans: Every region has its own network king, different service providers offer their best in different regions. In rural areas, network stability is the most important factor as coverage is limited and therefore in such case Airtel is the best. BSNL is also a good option but finally it all depends on the consistency of connection in your area.
3. What is average 2G, 3G and 4G internet speeds in India ?
Ans: TRAI has set limits for internet speed over cellular networks in the country. So, all the network providers have restrictions over net speeds. Actually, all SIM Networks provide an average 2G speed of 40 – 130 Kbps, 3G speed of 1 – 1.8 Mbps and 4G speed from 14 – 25 Mbps.
4. Which is best the SIM for travel in India ?
Ans: BSNL and Airtel due to solid nationwide coverage.
5. Which SIM provides fastest internet speeds ?
Ans: There is no sure answer for this question but Vodafone has proven to be fastest among its counterparts when it comes to 3G.
Subscribers in Millions as of March 2016:
- Airtel India – 251.23
- Vodafone India – 197.94
- Idea Cellular – 175.04
- Reliance Communications – 102.40
- Aircel – 87.08
- BSNL – 86.34
- Tata Docomo – 60.09
- Telenor India – 52.45
The rankings are based on polls, survey, and other research. Your views may vary. If you have some suggestions for improvements please comment below.