Airtel Data Card

by venukb on November 4, 2006

With the advent of DSL, Internet access speed in India has improved a lot. There was a time when I used to download files at 1/2 KB/s and now with my 256kpbs broadband connection, I can get a maximum of 30KB/sec.

The best connection a normal consumer can get as of today is the 512kbps connection which translates to around 60KB/sec download speed. Airtel and BSNL are the major players in the DSL arena.

However from the past few months many are finding it difficult to get a DSL connection and both Bharti and BSNL are saying that they are upgrading their infrastructure to support more users.

This post in Hindu gives a good analysis of what the real problem is !

Cable Internet is another alternative and Sify is a major player is this area. However Sify is plagued with regular outages and this post by Shailja of GigaOM has an interesting perspective on that.

Another alternative is to to access Internet via a Data card. Airtel and Reliance are the 2 players in this area. However the limitation of this alternative is that you need to have a laptop with a PCMCIA slot.

Few days back I got hold of an Airtel Data Card (from my employer) :)

Airtel Data card is a PCMCIA (Personal Computer Memory Card International Association) card which can be inserted along with a SIM card in your laptop(in PCMCIA Slot). It works on GPRS/EDGE and gives you Anytime Anywhere Connectivity through Internet WIRELESSLY.Your laptop becomes truly mobile and you can access Internet connectivity anytime anywhere.

Airtel Data Card will work anywhere in India if you have Airtel GPRS/EDGE coverage. Airtel Data Card will work internationally where they have GPRS roaming tie up .

Regarding speed this is what Airtel’s website has to say:

On an EDGE network, Airtel Data Card enables connection to the Internet at data speeds up to 100 kbps using EDGE. In areas where EDGE services are not available the Airtel Data Card still enables reliable and secure data connections over GPRS

Snapshot of the Data Card

airtel data card airtel data card


One time cost of the card is around 5K INR. (Few months back it was around 12k !). More details on the different tariff plans can be found here.

Reliance also has a similar service called NetConnect and they are offering the data card for 5K INR. You can check the tariff details here

Also checkout the promotion program being run by Reliance.


The card comes with a software called Mobility Manager. It installs the required drivers for the PCMCIA card. The software also helps you to quickly setup a connection profile to connect to the Internet via GPRS/EDGE. You can also easily send and receive SMS via this mobility manager.

mobility manager

Download Mobility Manager


I could get download speeds upto 84kpbs and for normal web browsing this should be more than sufficient. There are not much options with the current tariff plan, for unlimited download you have to almost shell out 999 INR + taxes !.

One drawback of this service is the need for a laptop with a PCMCIA slot. However if you do have a laptop, you have access to Internet anywhere anytime :)

Update: Airtel Data card now available on Indiatimes Shopping and Rediff shoppping

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