updated 11:20 am EDT, Fri March 26, 2010
Carrier joins fray against Bharti Airtel
Vodafone's Indian division, Vodafone Essar, has begun selling the iPhone 3GS in the country. The carrier will have to compete with Bharti Airtel, which is launching on the same day. Essar is offering both pre-paid and subscription data plans; the latter cost 200, 499 or 699 rupees per month, and offer 100, 250 or 600MB of data before regular rates kick in. The pre-paid option includes no bundle but costs only 100 rupees a month, just over $2 US.
Both Essar and Bharti are said to have submitted bids for a 3G bandwidth auction, which should open up the commercial availability of 3G in India as of September 1st. While cellphone ownership is common in the country, data use and smartphone sales have been hampered by the lack of a viable high-speed network. Earlier attempts to introduce the iPhone 3G fell flat.