Airtel Broadband 8mbps Review

After my harrowing experience with Reliance and MTNL continuing to perform sub optimally, I finally made up my mind to sign up with Airtel Broadband for their 8mbps Rapid 175 plan, which comes with 175GB FUP limit (512kbps beyond FUP limit) and costs around Rs. 3000 a month (including taxes).

Initial signup process was quite good and professional (way better than Reliance) and I was even informed by the sales rep that I was the first guy in my neighborhood to sign up for Rapid175 plan, with majority of other users choosing plans ranging from Rs. 1000-1500 a month.

Couple of days after I had made the initial security deposit of Rs. 500, wiring was done at my home (again more professionally done than Reliance) and an hour later, technician supposed to setup my router, came to my home.

Thanks to payment gateway issue, my order for Netgear Router from Flipkart was still in a limbo and thus I decided to get the initial setup done on my 3 year old MTNL Wi-Fi router.

After initial setup was done, it was time for speedtest (fired up by the technician himself) and the first run topped out at less than 4mbps (less than half of the promised connection speed)! Another run ended in similar results and switching from Chrome to IE didn’t help either (technician’s idea).


Since the latency was quite high for a local speedtest, I told him to try changing the DNS servers on my desktop (he had setup Airtel DNS servers on the router) and that seemed to help matters and this speedtest result showed more than 8mbps connection speed.

However, the local speedtest server being used was now different (Vodafone instead of Hughes), so I asked the tech to run the speedtest against US servers and my fears came through, as the results hovered between 2.5-4mbps.

Switching to London test servers didn’t help matters and the technician scoffed at the quality of MTNL router and took out a brand new Airtel Wireless Router (not sure about the manufacturer) from his bag to test the connection and funnily enough it wouldn’t turn on and neither would the second router he had. He tried changing the power adapter to what came with those routers (he had initially used MTNL’s power adapter) and they still wouldn’t come to life and even the second power adapter couldn’t bring either of the routers to life, even though they worked fine with my MTNL router!

Seeing this, I was glad that I hadn’t opted to buy router from Airtel, especially as the tech gave up on those router and continued with the MTNL one.

However I was quite disappointed by the speed, but still gave Airtel Broadband a benefit of doubt, since Speedtest servers can be slow at times. So I decided to download a 100mb test file from Softlayer’s Dallas DC (Softlayer operates some of the finest data centers and has recently been acquired by IBM for US$ 2 billion!)

Speedtest in case of Softlayer’s test file topped out at 695KBps, which translates in to 5.56mbps. Which was faster than the (testament to Softlayer’s network), but still way below what I had signed up for.

At this point, the technician gave up and told me this is about as good as it is going to get and this is indeed the maximum international speed they support and once again ran speedtest against Vodafone and Nextra servers, which showed better than 8mbps results (strangely, Airtel’s own speedtest server timed out).

airtelbroadband rapid175 speedtest

Which I guess is expected, since Airtel either has peering agreement with these two providers or provides the bandwidth to these, since neither of them operates their own undersea cables.

Since I had no plan to stick to browsing sites hosted only on the Airtel, Vodafone and Nextra network, I told the tech, this isn’t acceptable and asked him to escalate the issue to NOC.

However, he informed me, irrespective of the person I try to contact, troubleshooting the connection will come down to him and as per the normal speedtests they run (against Vodafone and Nextra servers in Delhi and Gurgaon), it is working fine! At max he could go ahead and get my connection cancelled or switched over to 4mbps, since that is the maximum international speed they can provide.

Since Airtel does not offers 4mbps plan with more than 80GB FUP limit and then throttles the connection speed to a pathetic 256kbps, I had no intention of keeping Airtel and told him to cancel the account.

Now I have been told that I will get my Rs. 500 back soon, so I will update this blogpost at a later stage, based on whether or not Airtel keeps its promise of refunding my money.

For now I am absolutely disheartened by the way ISPs in India behave and that even Airtel Broadband, which is supposed to be one of the best ISPs out there, cannot even provide promised speeds for its Rapid175 plan, which is the highest tiered “Faster” plans it has!

Update 10-6-13: Turns out that on Saturday, Airtel tech who came to activate my Airtel Broadband Connection and told me Airtel cannot provide 8mbps international bandwidth and hence I could either cancel my account or learn to live with 4mbps speed while paying 3k a month for 8mbps connection, didn’t actually cancel my account. And instead stated that the connection activation has been delayed due to customer! And now Airtel is calling me to “activate” that account! Then after 3-4 call, Airtel Rep told me to upgrade my account to 16mbps, that way I might actually get 8mbps! Guess I was expecting too much by believing Airtel was any better than Reliance!

Update: After escalating the matter to the top brass of Airtel, I finally got a final reply from them, “Airtel cannot provide 8mbps international bandwidth and will provide the same international speed on 8mbps connection that they do on a 4mbps plan!” Eventually connection was cancelled, Rs. 500 I had given to them, was refunded to me. However they never removed the wiring from their pole to our home and I have been told that they do not provide any service to ex-customers and hence my home is still connected to Airtel junction box and will remain so, until I pay to get the wire removed!

Update: After almost a year, I bought 4mbps connection from Airtel.


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  2. I just upgraded to 8mbps. shows 8mbps, but downloading never exceeds 450KBS. I changed router too. I read online that most of old router have a problem maintaining throughput, so I bought a new tplink router.

    Airtel guys are very clever, if you tracert, you will notice, the data passes through specific router 59.14*.***.***. Now tracert outher website, you will know the difference.

    8mbps is total FARCE!!

    • Manually choose a server located in US or London and it would show the actual international bandwidth they are providing, which ought to be around ~4 mbps for your connection.

      Btw I had written to their top management and the only answer I got was that this is the best they can do. Having said that, they did quickly refund my Rs. 500 deposit, so Airtel is good in that aspect.

  3. Sometimes download can be slow due to many reasons-
    1.a virus
    2.multiple programs using the internet to download updates or for something else.
    3.the download speeds can be slow on the 1st day of your installation.
    This has happened to me and i have researched this on the internet.

    • Dhruv, if that was the case, then I wouldn’t have gotten 8mbps on the local speed test result and Airtel (after several escalations) wouldn’t have given an official response that they cannot deliver 8mbps.

  4. Funny, the way they sound gargantuanic in promising hundred MBs of speeds and when it comes to actual show, MTNL thrashes them black and blue! Using 4 MBPS 2500/- “Fufa-in-MTNL” UNLIMTED With no FUP plan and boy till date I haven’t stooped beyond 3.80 Mbps!
    REcommend you to go back to MTNL, since within 2 weeks of usage, airtel will send you message that you’ve used 90% of your limit, no matter what. a
    And coming back from 8 mbps to 512kbps is indeed the worst thing that can happen after congress

    • Ravinder, I never uninstalled MTNL connection and I am happily using them. It is just that, for couple of months they were really a pain to use, irrespective how many complaints I made, and that made me look for alternatives.

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  6. This is a very informative and detailed review, thanks for that. When most of us are left at the mercy of ISP’s marketing departments, you have elaborated the true concerns. I also had issues with Airtel so not going back to it. What is your experience with other providers? I am currently using You Broadband but would want to shift, the customer service is prompt but I have to frequently call them.

    I am thinking of getting Reliance Broadband’s highest plan but something tell me to be careful(Speed/Cust Care/WiFi compatibility). Though i understand that our experience would be different from mine, but noticing your diligence in getting a good VFM plan, I would like to hear from you. What other options have you explored?

    • Ankit, for the past 8-9 years, I am using MTNL DSL connection. I had tried Reliance and Airtel Broadband connection when MTNL started giving frequent issues (that went on for 2-3 months).

      End result?

      I am still using MTNL Broadband connection (1mbps unlimited with no FUP and 200 free calls for Rs. 999 + tax) and ended up wasting time, energy and in case of Reliance, money, in testing these two connections out. You can find my harrowing experience about Reliance here,

  7. Please tell me Wether I need a adsl or adsl 2 router

  8. I have taken Airtel connection around 3 months back. From the day I filled up Airtel broadband application, I am getting issues with Airtel.

    First they took 2 weeks to give Airtel connection after promising that within 2 days connection will be up and running.

    Once connection is setup, I starting getting frequent disconnections on my broadband and even after 3 months my problem is not solved.

    Here is the preview how Airtel Customer Service works

    1. Customer raise the request.

    2. Airtel acknowledge it with automated mail saying within 24 Hr. problem will be resolved.

    3. After 24 Hrs. someone from Airtel call to confirm the problem.

    4. Once problem is confirmed, he/she says it will be assigned to engineer and someone from Airtel will come to fix the problem again within 24Hrs.

    5. After 24 Hrs. technician from Airtel calls and fix time to visit the house.

    6. Customer takes leave from office work and keep waiting for Airtel person to visit and no one comes.

    7. Customer raised this issue again with call center

    and Again the full cycle continues from point 1 without problem being looked at.

    If someone is looking to take Airtel broadband, do look for other options. if nothing else is there, then only go for Airtel and don’t expect anything from Airtel.

  9. I am using a Provider called Sahil Broadband in Mira Road Mumbai. My Monthly download is about 500gb or around 300gb i am busy with work and dont download much. I work from home so my 1 VOIP Softphone, 1 Voange and multiple web apps are continuosly connected. Plus 2 Phones and 1 Tablet are always connected to the wifi. When i do a speedtest i get 35mbps speed. And even if all the devices are connected, my work is not effected, my both US calling phones work.fine. For one project i am always connected to VPN so no disconnection there. And I pay the guy 2.5k per month for a 10mbps unlimited. Now the speed test shows more thats my luck.
    Yes they have these occassional issues once or twice a month i dont mind. Cant ask for more and that too they resolve the issue very fast. Being a local cable provider his service,.pricing and connection speed is awesome. A 1GB movie takes about 5 mins to download. So happy with the connection but as my work demands that i always stay connected and even a day of downtime can be devastating, i was thinking about getting a backup connection only for a Vonage Phone and my VPN. So wud an Airtel 4MBPS be fine. The VPN i connect to is in New Hampshire USA? Just need the speed to be steady for keeping it connected. Would airtel be good as a back up connection just in case there is a downtime!!!! Please advise.

  10. Hello I just upgraded to 8mbps plan on the Airtel Boradband service.I used to play a game called World of warcraft and there i used to get a latency of 190-210 since the server is in Romania this was when i had a 4 mbps plan.Now since i have a the 8 mbps plan i have been getting 340-500 latency.The people from airtel are not willing to change my cable wire and they say that the problem is from the other servers end.But my friends using airtel are also having the same issue as me.Would you suggest me going back to the 4mbps plan or changing to some local internet provider? please do help :)

    • Shreyas, you can try using Google or OpenDNS DNS servers and see if they help with this. Airtel DNS has been patchy at best, sometimes it works well and at other times it is slow as hell.

      • does actually using other DNS improve the international routing that Airtel has done?

      • No harm in giving it a try. Normally it shouldn’t make a difference, but you never know. Btw I have now switched to 8mbps Airtel connection as well, and while I still can’t hit 8mbps internationally, routing for most part is alright and occasionally when I play WoW, I don’t face any lag.

  11. Ohh ok thank you for the advise but since me and my friend are having this issue we may switch to a local ISP. Anyway thank you for your opinion.

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