You are working from home. For the foreseeable future at least. A home broadband line is certainly categorized as a necessity now, in the extended era of work from home, as India still registers significant number of COVID cases every day. No longer can you brush aside a wired broadband line for home as an avoidable additional expense. To get work done remotely, for your child’s online classes and for streaming Netflix once you desperately need to unwind after work, the reality is that our 3G and 4G mobile networks may just not be geared up for the tasks at hand. Also because of the unique situation where a large demographic is WFH, there is more load on the mobile networks in residential areas. Yet, a home broadband line is still something a lot of people choose not to prioritize. And that often inevitably leads to the question—what is the cheapest broadband connection that I can buy for home? All popular broadband service providers, or internet service providers, have interesting entry spec plans that don’t really hurt the wallet. Reliance JioFiber, Airtel Xstream broadband, ACT broadband, BSNL, Tata Sky Broadband, Excitel and others all have plans that work out around the Rs 500 price point, give or take a bit, with speeds ranging between 30Mbps to 50Mbps, depending on provider plans. And in the case of Excitel, 100Mbps speeds in case you go for the long-term recharge.
Reliance Jio really forced the competition to make broadband more affordable with the new JioFiber broadband plans last year. The JioFiber Rs 399 broadband plan offers you symmetric upload and download speeds of 30Mbps. You’ll get a home phone as well which offers unlimited voice calls across India. The data usage bundled with this plan is unlimited, in the sense that you’ll have a monthly fair usage policy (FUP) cap of 3300GB per month after which the speeds will reduce for the rest of the billing cycle—though you will not have to pay extra at any point. The response to the JioFiber plan rejigs last year saw Airtel Xstream getting a new Airtel Xstream Unlimited broadband plan that is priced at Rs 499 per month and offers 40Mbps speeds. The data usage is unlimited, with an FUP of 3333GB per month. You’ll get a landline phone as well with unlimited local and national voice calls and subscriptions to the Airtel Xstream video streaming service and the Wynk Music streaming service.
Reliance Jio has one of the most affordable 100Mbps plan for home broadband. The JioFiber plan is priced at Rs 699 per month and also bundles a home phone with unlimited voice calls anywhere in India. You’ll get symmetric speeds, which means 100Mbps download and 100Mbps upload, and unlimited data usage. Interestingly, there are no bundled subscriptions for streaming apps with this plan—for that, you need to upgrade to the 150Mbps plan that costs Rs 999 per month. Airtel’s 100Mbps plan for the Airtel Xstream broadband service is priced a bit more and costs Rs 799 per month. Here also, you’ll get 100Mbps upload and download speeds, unlimited data usage along with a bundled home phone that allows for unlimited voice calls anywhere in India. The Airtel Thanks bundle includes subscription for Airtel Xstream video streaming and the Wynk Music streaming app.
The state run BSNL is in no mood to let the private ISPs run away with the market share and attractive affordable broadband plans. In most circles, BSNL offers the Fibre Basic broadband plan which is priced at Rs 449 per month and offers 30Mbps speeds. It is slightly more expensive than the Reliance JioFiber broadband plan, in terms of pure monthly cost. You’ll get an FUP of 3300GB per month and a landline phone which allows for unlimited local and national calls. The BSNL Bharat Fibre broadband service also offers a plan called Fiber Value that’s priced at Rs 799 per month and offers 100Mbps symmetrical speeds for unlimited data per month. This plan should be available in most circles, if not all. MTNL which offers broadband services in Delhi and Mumbai, has listed the entry spec plan for its fiber broadband service as the FTH-777 plan which costs Rs 777 per month and gets you 100Mbps speeds with 800GB data per month at high speeds and the any usage beyond that at 1Mbps for the rest of the billing cycle.
Tata Sky Broadband has an entry spec 50Mbps broadband plan which is available if you choose to pay in advance for 3 months, 6 months or 12 months. While the other plans which offers 100Mbps speeds or more have the monthly billing option, this doesn’t. Nevertheless, you’ll pay Rs 1797 for 3 months, Rs 3300 for 6 months and Rs 6000 for 12 months. This works out to around Rs 599 per month, around Rs 550 per month and around Rs 500 per month respectively. After multiple reconfigurations of the broadband plans, Tata Sky Broadband now also offers a 100Mbps unlimited plan for Rs 950 per month if you want a landline phone too or Rs 850 per month without a landline phone. This makes it the most expensive of the lot, to be fair. While this is an unlimited data usage plan too, there are no streaming app subscriptions bundled at this time.
Excitel, a broadband service that is available in multiple cities in India including Delhi NCR, has the Fiber First 100Mbps unlimited data plan in the prepaid avatar. This means the more months you pay for in advance, the lesser the price you pay. For instance, it’ll cost Rs 699 per month with the monthly billing but cost Rs 565 per month if you pay for three months in advance, Rs 508 per month if you pay for 4 months in advance and as low as Rs 399 per month if you pay for an entire year upfront. To be fair, Excitel is offering significantly faster 100Mbps speeds for around the same sort of monthly outlay, as a lot of the other ISPs charging for 40Mbps or 50Mbps.
Last but not least is ACT Broadband, which has listed the ACT Swift broadband plan in certain cities. This gets you 50Mbps speeds with unlimited data that has an FUP of 3300GB data per month. Not the most affordable either, priced at Rs 710 per month. Mind you, while most users may never get close to the FUP limit particularly on 50Mbps broadband plans, ACT does penalize heavy users by reducing the speeds to 512kbps for the rest of the billing cycle. In certain other cities, there is the ACT Starter plan listed at Rs 549 per month that gets you 40Mbps speeds. ACT Fibernet offers a 150Mbps unlimited home broadband line for Rs 799 per month in most circles and regions the service is available in. This is also an unlimited broadband line.
At the time of writing this, Spectra hasn’t listed 100Mbps plans for most circles, with their complicated broadband plans starting with 250Mbps speeds in most regions.