3gsimplified is meant to ensure that user get the most cost-effective plan

Are you on the right mobile telephony plan? What is the best 3G data plan, of a particular usage pattern that is available in your telecom circle?

Questions such as these are often complicated to answer. Even if a mobile phone user subjectively decides to go in for a particular operator, the sheer number of plans, rate-cutters and top-ups leaves them confused. The tariff pricing is also complex — a simple phone call can be charged at six different rates based on who you call and when you call.

Enter http://www.3gsimplified.com/ promising to be your shopping assistant in the telecom supermarket. The objective of 3gsimplified, which will also be available as a free Android application shortly, is to make sure a user can make the right decision and get the most cost-effective plan. Its search engine cuts through each plan and adds the right top-ups and rate cutters to arrive at the cheapest possible plan for a particular usage pattern.

Jigar Doshi, founder of Cheeni Labs, which designed 3gsimplified, says: “Each result that the website throws up is completely customised to the usage.”

While intense competition has kept voice call rates in India among the lowest in the world, the scenario of a divergent set of plans, each targeting a niche segment, has ended up confusing customers.

The site also offers a detailed analysis of 3G data plans in a number of metros. For example, BSNL seems the most cost-effective 3G service provider in Chennai across data usage bands, while Airtel comes on top in Mumbai. While the comparison is based on 3G data usage, cost-effectiveness is derived through the overall monthly bill, by using TRAI's definition of an ‘average Indian subscriber' (611 minutes of voice calls and 97 SMS).

Here is Chennai's comparison graph: http://www.3gsimplified.com/staticms/Chennai_analysis.html

So, how much can you really save? With mobile number portability and the ability to easily shift among operators, Mr. Doshi says “at least Rs.100 every month for a post paid user.” He says an extreme example is his own dad, whose monthly bill dropped from Rs.2, 000 to Rs.1, 000. “I would term him a pathologically bad case,” he says with a laugh. “He has been in the same plan for the past two years. I showed him that one can achieve 50 per cent savings in just five minutes. Just change your plan.”

He tempers that advice with a corollary: “Most of the operators are highly competitive, which means it is better to get the right plan within the operator than to switch operators.” But an amazing mobile telephony experience is not just about cost. There are other aspects such as customer service and signal coverage, especially on the 3G network. In essence, customers do not want to know just what is the cheapest, but what is the best. Mr. Doshi advocates crowd-sourced services such as http://opensignalmaps.com, but maintains that the space requires more attention from Open Source developers.