When we do not even get the basic data speed, how can anyone claim to provide a X% faster speed, that too when the standard for 3G data speed is defined
When kids say my father is stronger than yours is, we take it as juvenile humour. However, when big companies do the same thing about a service that has fixed parameters, it becomes a joke on the customers. A few months back we were bombarded with advertisements claiming 'our 3G network is X% faster’. Nevertheless, good sense prevailed and Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of the Advertising Standards Council of India stopped these companies from pushing such advertisements.
Upholding complaints against Bharti Airtel Ltd (Airtel) and Vodafone Essar Ltd (Vodafone), ASCI said the claimed advertisements were not adequately substantiated. It said, "The advertisement of Airtel claims, 'India’s Best 3G network'. This claim was not adequately substantiated. Also, the claim “Airtel gives 122% faster download speeds than other 3G networks.” was unsubstantiated."
Similarly, the advertisement from Vodafone claiming “Fastest 3G network” was not substantiated adequately and was misleading by ambiguity, the ASCI said.
Other claims on 3G from Airtel were also not substantiated and thus the advertisements were banned. ASCI said, "The advertisement’s other claims: to provide 34.5% faster speed that other networks, Airtel 3G has 30% more indoor coverage, 17% more battery life, were not adequately substantiated. It was noted that the provided numbers are not based on extensive studies to adequately support the claims in the advertisements and the comparisons are not done with the next best in class."
Now let us look in to technical aspects of 3G and we will know why unsubstantiated claims from mobile operators have fallen flat.
3G is short form for third generation of mobile communication technology. This is based on a set of standards used for mobile devices and mobile telecommunications use services and networks that comply with the International Mobile Telecommunications-2000 (IMT-2000) specifications by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Services advertised as 3G are required to meet IMT-2000 technical standards, including standards for reliability and speed (data transfer rates).
ITU has not laid down a clear definition of the data rate that user can expect from 3G services. However, many services advertised as 3G can provide higher speed than the minimum technical requirements for a 3G service.
In India, 3G is defined by telecom operators as minimum 2Mbits per second (Mbps) to a maximum of 28Mbps. Across the world, standards like wideband code division multiple access (W-CDMA), High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) are used to provide 3G services. Theoretically, HSPA offers a download speed of 14.4Mbps and upload speed of 5.76Mpbs. A further revised and upgraded HSPA+ standard can provide (theoretical) peak data rates up to 168Mbps in the downlink and 22Mbps in the uplink.
However, in practice, we never get the speeds mentioned above or even 50% of that. Remember the YouTube advertisement, in which people are shown moving their heads round and round due to buffering? It shows the real picture of internet speed in India, across mobile operators, which provide 3G services. The reason, I mentioned YouTube is because, whenever you complaint about slow speeds, the customer care executive from the mobile operators would ask you to do some changes in settings and then check any video from YouTube. According to their 'understanding' and 'knowledge', if you can see YouTube video without 'buffering', then you are on 3G and receiving 'great' speed on your network!
The point is all mobile service providers make a mockery of regulations and minimum service standards in India. 3G is not an exception. When questioned, you would receive standard answers, like there may be some local issue and it would be resolved soon. If you question further, then they will tell you the 3G speed depends upon the number of users in that particular area (read tower). And of course, the customer is always in such a highly-populated area, so don't blame the service provider! Thankfully, there are some regulatory bodies like ASCI that are stopping these 'false claim-masters' from fooling us.