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Broadband's got cheaper for owls
Shobhana Subramanian
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May 19, 2005

For all you insomniacs, broadband just got cheaper. In fact, believe it or not, on MTNL's [Get Quote] Triband connection, it's absolutely free between midnight and 8 in the morning and you can browse as much as you want to -- if you haven't fallen asleep, that is.

But then, there's no free lunch, is there? This unlimited 'free' downloading comes to you only if you buy a package for up to 500 MB of data transfer per month for Rs 590.

That works out to about Rs 1.20 per MB. And if you use more than 500 MB you pay for it at the rate of Rs 1.20 per MB. So you would need to use at least 500 MB during the day and some more at night to bring the cost to below a rupee per MB.

Plug-in options

MTNL TriBand

Tata Indicom

Sify broadband


256 kbps

256-512 kbps

256 kbps

Security deposit

TriBand -Rs 1300 with Landline Rs 5300 partly refundable

Rs 1000

None, since connection through cable

Installation charges

Rs 500

Rs 1000-3000

Rs 2500

Equipment cost

Rental Rs 95/month

Included in installation charge


Basic package

Rental of Rs 590 for
500 MB for a month. Lapses if unused.
Additional usage Rs 1.20 per MB. Free from 12 am-8 am

Rental of Rs 375 for 500MB, for a month.
Lapses if unused.
Additional usage at Rs 1.25 per MB

Rental of Rs 400 for 400MB for a month. Lapses if unused.
Need to renew package.

Additional IP address

Rs 2000

Rs 2000


Dial-up domestic & international roaming




In an exclusive night package, Sify, too, is giving you unlimited usage between 10 pm and 8 am though it comes at a cost -- Rs 650 for a month.

So you should be able to use at least 650 MB within the month to get an effective rate of Rs 1 per MB. If you're sure to use more, go for it because the timings are certainly better than MTNL's!

For those of you who want a higher speed of 512 kbps, which means you save a lot of time, Tata Indicom's monthly rental of Rs 425 for 500 MB translates into about 85 paise per MB.

It gets cheaper as you increase the usage -- for one GB its Rs 825 (82 paise per MB) while for 3 GB, you pay a rental Rs 2,300, that's 76 paise per MB. So for those of you who plan to spend long hours downloading, this scheme is for you.

Sify's rates are also good at a rupee per MB, for the lower range of data transfer, at Rs 400 for 400 MB, but then it's at 256 kbps, half the speed of Tata Indicom.

Once again, the price too gets better as you use more space -- for one GB for month its just Rs 550, that's 55 paise per MB For all the rental packages, if you don't exhaust the space within the stipulated time -- say a month, then you've lost out, because the space lapses and you have effectively ended up paying a higher rate.

So you need to have a rough idea of how much you're going to be using. Otherwise, if you're not planning to use the connection too heavily, MTNL's new scheme of Rs 2 per MB might be good for you since there's no rental. You pay for as much data transferring that you've done.

Where Tata Indicom schemes can help you is through its time-based plans or hourly plans. In these schemes the rate is linked to a number of hours, for Rs 600 you can buy yourself 25 hours a month. While its difficult to compare hours with MBs, users say that one-hour would roughly be equivalent to 30-40 MB.

Hourly packages are good for those of you who are downloading a lot of data or music, since you will need to do a lot of data transfer.

Conversely those of you who love to chat, opt for a data transfer based package since chatting requires very little data transfer and you will get more bang for the buck.

With Triband, the initial costs, especially the security deposit, are still a trifle high, though Rs 3,000 is refundable if you want to discontinue with the broadband connection. However, MTNL has softened the blow by allowing you to pay up in six equal instalments.

Moreover, instead of charging a lump sum for the equipment, you can pay for it every month, though that again for the entire time that you keep the connection.

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