How to Get Mobile Internet in India for Travelers: What Option to Choose?

This article is for travelers to India who want to get mobile internet to stay connected while traveling to India. It will provide a basic understanding of mobile internet in India, how much it costs, and the best options to get mobile internet for travelers.

By reading this guide, travelers will have all the information they need to stay fully connected during their trip to India without unexpected high bills on their phones.

wireless internet in india

I. Mobile Internet in India – Coverage and Speed

When you go to India, it’s important to know about the mobile internet situation there. This section talks about where you can get mobile internet in India and how fast it is.

1. India Mobile Internet Coverage

india mobile internet coverage

India’s vast terrain and dynamic demographics offer a challenging landscape for mobile operators, nevertheless, the four leading players – Airtel, BSNL, Jio, and Vi (Vodafone Idea) – have made significant strides in expanding their network coverage:

  • Airtel: 2nd largest mobile network in India, covers over 2/3rd of the population. Leading in LTE-based 4G since 2012, with 4G in most urban areas. Started 5G trials but not commercially launched yet.
  • BSNL: Wide coverage (90% of land) but slower network speed. Limited 4G in cities due to slow rollout. Mainly offers 2G/3G services, not in the 5G market.
  • Jio: Extensive 4G network across urban and rural areas, serving 95% of the population. All-4G network, fiber optics support. 5G trials are ongoing in select cities.
  • Vi: Formerly Vodafone Idea, a nationwide network. 4G coverage smaller than Airtel and Jio, focuses on towns and major cities. 5G services in a trial phase.

Note: Although all operators have grown their 4G networks recently, Jio stands out for having the widest coverage across urban and rural India. With its strong fiber network and emphasis on VoLTE, Jio ensures top-notch network performance.

2. India Mobile Internet Speed

mobile internet speed

India has made big progress in mobile internet speed. According to Ookla’s Speedtest Global Index report for August 2023, India now ranks 47th globally for mobile internet speed, jumping up 72 spots

The median speed for mobile downloads in India has shot up to 50.21 Mbps from 13.87 Mbps in September 2022, a whopping 3.59 times increase in just a year.

This improvement is thanks to 5G services launched nationwide by Jio and Airtel in October 2022. 5G is delivering super-fast speeds over 240 Mbps across India, making customers happier than with 4G.

Some highlights in India:

  • City rank: As per the report, Kolkata recorded the highest median download speed in India at 385.50 Mbps
  • Neighboring countries: India has faster speeds than its South Asian neighbors like Bangladesh (118), Sri Lanka (126), and Pakistan (127). It also fares better than some G20 nations including Mexico (90), Turkey (68), the UK (62), Japan (58), Brazil (50), and South Africa (48).

This boost in India’s mobile internet speed is a game-changer, but there’s still room for growth, especially in rural areas. Jio stands out for delivering the fastest download speeds at 52.9 Mbps. Overall, 5G has given India’s mobile internet a solid upgrade.

II. What are Connectivity Options for Tourists to India?

connectivity options for tourist visiting india

After discussing the mobile internet in India, let’s explore the top choices for temporary internet access. Travelers in India can choose from four main methods to get mobile broadband.

Connectivity OptionBest ForProsCons
Public WiFiQuick web searchesFree to useSpotty reliability, security concerns, only for light use
Pocket WiFi rentalGroups traveling togetherCan share with the groupExtra device to carry, higher daily cost than other options
Local SIM cardLong term visitorsVery affordable, reliable coverageNeed to insert SIM, passport required
eSIMShort-term visitors, frequent travelersConvenient digital SIM, easy to set up anywhereSlightly higher cost than local SIM for short trips

For short-term visitors, both local SIM cards and eSIM data plans are the top picks for affordable and flexible internet access.

If you’re a tourist seeking hassle-free internet and don’t want to deal with physical SIM cards, go for a GIGAGO India eSIM. It brings all the local connectivity benefits right to your phone’s screen with a tap. 

Note: Remember to verify your device compatibility on the eSIM-compatible devices list before buying.

III. Internet Rates in India

Good to know: 1 USD = 83.03 INR

When looking at prepaid data options from Indian carriers, tourists will find very reasonable mobile broadband rates. Both data SIM cards and eSIM plans offer affordable prices. Here’s an overview:

Mobile internet optionsData packagePrice in rupeesPrice in USD
Local SIM Card (Airtel)1.5GB/day for 28 days₹239$2.88
Local SIM Card (Jio)1.5GB/day for 28 days₹209$2.51
Local SIM Card (Vodafone Idea)1.5GB/day for 28 days₹299$3.60
Local SIM Card (BSNL)2GB/day for 15 days₹97$1.17
India eSIM Rates same as regular SIM cards for the respective operatorsSame as aboveSame as above
Roaming (Airtel)1GB/day for 15 days₹995$12.00
Roaming (Jio)1GB/day for 15 days₹999$12.06
Roaming (Vi)1GB/day for 15 days₹1199$14.45
Roaming (BSNL)1GB/day for 15 days₹1199$14.45
Public WiFi Hourly₹20-50$0.24-0.60/hour
Pocket WiFi 1GB/day for 7 days₹299$3.60

Note: The above price is for reference only. To update the latest information, contact the provider.

IV. Data SIM Card for Mobile Internet in India

When opting for an India local SIM card, consider choosing a prepaid SIM that includes a data package from Airtel, Jio, Vi, and BSNL. These SIM cards are designed for foreign tourists in India, offering affordable rates for data usage. Check out the available India SIM card options:

1. Airtel

RechargeData/AllowancesPrice (INR)Price (USD)
₹29520MB for 28 days290.35
₹481GB for 28 days480.58
₹493GB for 24 hours490.59
₹983GB for 28 days981.18
₹1991.4GB/day for 28 days1992.40
₹2452GB/day for 28 days2452.95
₹3493GB/day for 28 days3494.20
₹3991.4GB/day for 70 days3994.81

2. Jio

RechargeData/AllowancesPrice (INR)Price (USD)
₹9812GB for 28 days981.18
₹1491.5GB/day for 28 days1491.80
₹1982GB/day for 28 days1982.39
₹2993GB/day for 28 days2993.60
₹4481.5GB/day for 84 days4485.40

3. Vodafone idea (Vi)

RechargeData/AllowancesPrice (INR)Price (USD)
₹1791GB/day for 28 days1792.15
₹2492GB/day for 28 days2493.00
₹3493GB/day for 28 days3494.20
₹3981.4GB/day for 70 days3984.80

4. BSNL

RechargeData/AllowancesPrice (INR)Price (USD)
₹1862GB/day for 3 days1862.24
₹2363GB/day for 3 days2362.85
₹2511.5GB/day for 18 days2513.02
₹4583GB/day for 18 days4585.51

Note: The above price is for reference only. To update the latest information, contact the provider.

V. Data eSIM for India – Best Option to Get Mobile Internet for Tourists

data esim for india

Tip: This option only works if the client's phone is eSIM compatible.

As more travelers embrace the digital nomad lifestyle, the advantages of eSIMs become increasingly apparent, especially when compared to traditional SIM cards.

With no physical card to swap, eSIMs offer seamless connectivity and the convenience of setting up mobile internet before arriving at your destination. Tourists heading to India can obtain an eSIM either directly from local operators or through global eSIM providers.

1. Buy eSIM from India Operators

Upon arriving in India, tourists have the option to buy an eSIM from various local telecommunication operators. Some of the notable operators offering eSIM services include:

  • Reliance Jio
  • Bharti Airtel
  • Vodafone Idea (Vi)

How to Buy: To purchase an eSIM from these operators, customers typically need to:

  • Visit a physical store
  • Authenticate their identity with a valid passport or ID card
  • Undergo a registration process

It is this in-person verification that adds a layer of security to the acquisition of eSIM services.

Pros:

  • Local Rates: Enjoy local calling/data rates without international premiums.
  • Regional Coverage: Operators offer extensive coverage across India, even in remote areas.
  • Customer Support: Access customer service in local languages for swift issue resolution.

Cons:

  • Registration Required: In-store registration is time-consuming, and needs physical documentation.
  • Language Barrier: Non-English speakers may find registration and support challenging.
  • Limited Flexibility: Switching plans/operators are less flexible with local operators.

2. Buy eSIM from Gigago

gigago india esim

Purchasing an India eSIM Gigago is the epitome of convenience for travelers to India, as it eliminates the need for physical interaction or documentation like a passport or ID card. 

The process is entirely digital, making it a sought-after solution among tourists who value efficiency and speed. With Gigago, you can have your mobile internet set up and ready to use the moment you touch down in India.

Steps to Purchase a Gigago eSIM for India:

  1. Visit the Gigago website: Navigate to the Gigago home page.  
  2. Search for India: Use the search function to find the eSIM options for India.
  3. Select a Plan: Review the available plans and choose one that fits your needs, budget, and travel duration.
  4. Make Payment: Complete the transaction securely online.
  5. Email Confirmation: Receive an email with a QR code or manual activation code.
  6. Activate eSIM: Scan the QR code with your phone or enter the activation code manually.
  7. Enable Data Roaming: Turn on data roaming in your phone settings to start using the internet.

By following these simple steps, you’re connected to a local carrier in India without any of the traditional SIM card hassles.

VI. FAQs about Mobile Internet in India

Which network provider offers the cheapest data plans in India?

Jio is considered the most affordable mobile data network provider in India. It offers 1.5GB high-speed data per day at base plans starting from Rs. 155. Airtel and Vi offer comparable low-cost plans too.

Which state has the fastest 4G network in India?

As per recent studies, Delhi, Kerala, and Karnataka tend to have the fastest average 4G speeds in India. Metros like Mumbai and Chennai also see high speeds while regions like North East see lower speeds.

Which telecom company has the widest 4G network coverage in India?

As per TRAI, Reliance Jio has the widest 4G network coverage in India spanning both urban and rural regions. Airtel and Vi also have extensive nationwide 4G footprints now. BSNL 4G is catching up too.

How to get unlimited internet in India at a low cost?

Most mobile networks offer affordable prepaid plans with large daily data allowances and unlimited calls. Jio also has various affordable unlimited combo plans starting from Rs. 155/month.

VII. Conclusion

Mobile internet in India is super important for life in India. High smartphone use and good 4G coverage mean mobile data is essential for communication, entertainment, work, and more. When you visit, you can buy SIM cards or eSIM plans easily to stay connected. Get the India eSIM from GIGAGO for fast 4G from the beginning of your trip.