What choices are you making when you buy mobile Internet in India?

By Gurman Bhatia

India is the second biggest mobile phone market in the world, but less than 20 percent of the population has access to the Internet. Nearly 90 percent of Internet users access it through mobile. How mobile operators allow you to access the Internet matters. This project helps you compare regular Internet plans with Facebook and WhatsApp only packs that are offered by certain telecom providers.

Explore the interactive below to see what your choices actually mean when you choose a prepaid mobile data plan.

Updated Note: This tool only takes into account prepaid 2G plans.

When you buy a content specific pack

When you buy a regular Internet pack

All of your data is available

What is at stake?

The idea of Net Neutrality comes with three major concepts:

The Internet is a sea of opportunity and giving the edge to players such as Facebook and WhatsApp isn't playing fair. However, since it is a matter of consumer choice, you are free to explore your choices and what they might mean for everyday use.

When Reliance offers Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp for free, it is giving a preference to these platforms as opposed to a range of other places on the Internet. A young startup that aims to be the next Twitter of India shall not emerge, because the user has to pay to get on that platform. It is anti-competitive.

The same happens when you buy a Facebook only or WhatsApp only pack. While on one side you have a walled garden with limited access to certain services, on the other side is an entire blanket of services offered on the Internet. In certain cases, the walled garden might be cheaper. In certain cases, it might not. There is a possibility that you might be paying for nothing and this interactive helps you explore that.

For example, try playing with Idea's services in Andhra Pradesh. For Rs.50/week, you get close to 60,000 Whatsapp messages in the walled garden. The same figure for regular data packs is at 146,400 messages.