Top 5 Internet Service Providers of India (As of 2010)

Internet Speeds, pricing, Mobile Internet, download limits, fair usage, Mobile Number Portability, 3G USB Sticks are a few of the hot topics of the major towns in India these days. Despite plenty of effort in allotting desired spectrum for mobile service providers – the service for both voice & Internet is still not up to the mark.

Broadband Internet has come a long way, it’s better, but still — not everyone is completely satisfied with the services. At the same time affordable pricing offered by BSNL and MTNL has contributed largely in expanding the reach of Internet to tiny corners of India.

While I was thinking about all this I just thought of finding out which ISP owns how much of the market share in India. Below are the results.

Updated stats as of June 2013

These stats have been updated to show the latest market share stats for ISPs as of June 2013. Following are the changes from the earlier market share stats.

  • BSNL’s market share increased by 3%, still maintains the number 1 spot.
  • Reliance Communications made a major jump from 4th rank to 2nd & their market share is up by 4%
  • MTNL loses one spot to slip down to 3rd spot & their market share is reduced by approx. 2%
  • Bharati Airtel also loses its hold & slips down to 4th rank & their market share is down by 1.5%
  • Hathway still rests at its earlier 5th rank but their share is slightly reduced.

Rank 1: BSNL (57.84%, 60.13 % Market Share)

Top 5 Internet Service Providers of India (As of 2010)

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. formed in October, 2000, is World’s 7th largest Telecommunications Company providing comprehensive range of telecom services in India: Wireline, CDMA mobile, GSM Mobile, Internet, Broadband, Carrier service, MPLS-VPN, VSAT, VoIP services, IN Services etc. Presently it is one of the largest & the leading public sector unit in India.

The largest telecom company of India, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. has surprisingly caught all the attention as soon as they stepped into the new digital age like mobile service, Broadband Internet etc. after providing years of service of Landline phones and dial-up Internet.

With plenty of infrastructure resources, experience and planning BSNL has always managed to attract consumers mainly through the brand name of the trust. They then has grabbed all the opportunities by offering the lowest in its class tariffs and speeds for their DataOne connections compared to their competitors.

Another reason of this massive market share of 57.84% is their reach throughout India. BSNL is present in almost all the tiny villages to glossy cities of India. I am using BSNL Internet in Office and Home, even to write and publish this post. 🙂

Pros: Very affordable tariffs. Amazing Speeds. Good uptime. Almost all the plans are with Unlimited usage per month.

Cons: If it faces downtime (about once in 4 months) doesn’t come back online for about 7 days. Poor Support Channel. Delay in resolving issues. Slow account activations. Unpredictable.

Link: BSNL

Rank 2: Reliance Commn. Infra. Ltd. (7.88%, 11.86 % Market Share)

Top 5 Internet Service Providers of India (As of 2010)The late Dhirubhai Ambani dreamt of a digital India — an India where the average person would have access to affordable means of information and communication. Dhirubhai, who single-handedly built India’s largest private sector company almost from scratch, had stated as early as 1999: “Make the tools of information and communication available to people at an affordable cost. They will overcome the handicaps of illiteracy and lack of mobility.”
It was with this belief in mind that Reliance Communications (formerly Reliance Infocomm) started laying 60,000 route kilometres of a pan-India fibre optic backbone. This backbone was commissioned on 28 December 2002, the auspicious occasion of Dhirubhai’s 70th birthday, though sadly after his unexpected demise on 6 July 2002.

I haven’t used their broadband connection yet, but I do have a Fixed Wireless Phone from Reliance at home. I have used their Internet through FWP and it was only just better than an old Dial-up connection. (5~10 KB/s)

The bad thing is, I could not get this connection due to ‘No or Poor Signal’ in the Deccan and Tilak Road, Pune. The Good thing is, they did the signal tests before accepting my application.

Note: They have really slow Customer Care & Support engineers. Takes too long to sort an issue whether it is technical or billing.

Link: Reliance Communications

Rank 3: MTNL (13.81%, 9.04 % Market Share)

Top 5 Internet Service Providers of India (As of 2010)MTNL was set up on 1st April, 1986 by the Government of India to upgrade the quality of telecom services, expand the telecom network, introduce new services and to raise revenue for telecom development needs of India s key metros Delhi, the political capital and Mumbai, the business capital of India. In the past 17 years, the company has taken rapid strides to emerge as India s leading and one of Asia s largest telecom operating companies. Besides having a strong financial base, MTNL has achieved a market share of about 13% of the Indian telecommunication network with a customer base of over 4.74 million lines.

The difference between BSNL and MTNL is that, MTNL is only focused to offer their services in Metropolitan cities of India – Delhi, Mumbai, (Thanks to AVISEK for quick correction through comments). BSNL is everywhere except these metro cities.

MTNL too has all the same advantages as BSNL and market share of 13.81% only through four cities clearly shows their popularity and quality of service provided. MTNL was the first to launch 3G services in India. I have not used this connection since I do not stay in the cities where MTNL is available.

Link: MTNL

Rank 3: Bharti Airtel Ltd. (8.07%, 6.46 % Market Share)

Top 5 Internet Service Providers of India (As of 2010)Bharti Airtel Limited is a leading global telecommunications company with operations in 19 countries across Asia and Africa. The company offers mobile voice & data services, fixed line, high-speed broadband, IPTV, DTH, turnkey telecom solutions for enterprises and national & international long distance services to carriers. Bharti Airtel has been ranked among the six best performing technology companies in the world by business week. Bharti Airtel had 200 million customers across its operations.

Bharati Airtel Ltd, popularly known as their brand name Airtel is well reached in their core mobile phone services and became an ISP about two years back. Their ‘Impatience is the new life’ ad campaign created a buzz to launch their services. People using Airtel broadband seem quite happy with it. Am not very happy with their packages. Their market share of 8.07%.

BTW, I received ‘No Feasibility’ from Airtel Broadband even on a prime location of Pune like Deccan and Tilak Road.

Link: Airtel Broadband

Rank 5: Hathway Cable & Datacom Pvt. Ltd. (1.94%, 1.68% Market Share)

Top 5 Internet Service Providers of India (As of 2010)Hathway Broadband Internet – “Pioneers in Broadband Internet technology in India.” Hathway Broadband Internet is the largest Broadband Internet Service Provider (ISP) providing Broadband Internet services in 11 cities across the nation:
Mumbai, New Delhi , Chennai, Bangalore , Hyderabad , Pune, Nasik , Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Mysore and Baroda.

Pioneers of Cable Television in India, Hathway quickly became a first choice as ISP for many home users because they started offering Internet through OCSIS (Data Over Cable Services Interface Specifications) protocol. Hathaway was very popular as a Cable TV service provider before DTH were launched in the market. They still do have a large customer base in this area.

I had called them twice to arrange a connection in my office at Deccan, Pune but they did not have the cabling done to offer me a connection. They then asked me to take a Corporate plan of Rs. 2000 per month and pay for a Year’s subscription to get the cabling done. Because I was only looking for a backup connection along with my existing BSNL connection, I did not apply for Hathway.

Update: I now have Hathway connection at my home, speed if 2mbps for up to 28 GB per month under a fair usage policy (FUP) & then it goes down to 600kbps for unlimited downloads. It’s a very reliable connection & I will be upgrading to their new home plans of 50mbps till 50GB, which will come down to 1mbps beyond for unlimited downloads.

Note: I think they are quick to respond to your request. Also are very popular to have almost zero down-time. Engineers are technically sound. Broadband pricing is on higher side which is not good.

Link: Hathway

That was all what I thought of these Top 5 ISPs of India.I am really surprised by not to see Tata Communications / Tata Indicom in one of these top names.

I had the Tata Indicom Broadband at home and I was really very happy with the speeds & improved support. Their pricing is very high and latest packages are not very attractive. Hence, I am sticking to my old unlimited plan of Rs. 1200/- which does not exist anymore for new connections. But, overall – their quality of service has increased in great sense.

For broadband, I suggest going for Hathway purely because of the speeds (of course, only if your city does not have any better connection like Beam Telecom), they’re offering & their support has been good.

If you’re looking for an Internet connection through USB dongle – you can definitely go for Tata Photon+. They’re also offering new WiFi connectivity though their Photon WiFi, which does not need a 3G SIM.

Source: ISPAI


  1. airtel is good, but once it breaks(which it usually does in india) it takes a lot of time and effort to resolve issue.

    My case :
    Following things happened:
    31st Jan @ 2:00 AM (complain id: 28066548)
    called to log in a complain that my fixed line is dead and internet is
    not working. Executive said that my complain would be resolved by 12:30
    PM by today.

    31st Jan @ 12:15 PM
    I called again to check the status of
    my call. Executive said ‘system generating time’ shows your complain
    would be resolved by at max 2nd Feb 12:30 PM. But we will try to resolve
    it by 1st.

    1st Feb around 12:00 noon
    I called again and found out
    that there was some wiring issues near my dp. And it would be resolved
    definitely by 2nd Feb 12:30 PM

    2nd Feb @ 12:30 PM (complain id: 28171204)

    I called again, and executive told me that I will get call within 2
    hours from their followup team and issue would be resolved within 2
    hours. And a new complain was logged.

    2nd Feb @ 3:30 PM
    didn’t received any followup call. My line is still dead. I called back
    at 0124-4444121. Same answer by another executive, that ‘I am sorry for
    your in-convience, we apologize etc… ‘. She asked me 2 more hours to
    fix it. And give me a call within 2 hours.

    2nd Feb@5:30 PM
    Same thing happened….. asked me for 2 more hours

    2nd Feb@7:30 PM [call number: 213673627]
    I decided to talk to senior. His name is UDIT GAUTAM.
    He placed my call on hold to get the status of my problem. And call
    dropped after 3-4 minutes. I called back immediately and AJEET RAY
    picked my call. I asked him to connect call with UDIT, he asked me to
    hold. After 1 min of holding, he told me that, “sorry sir Mr UDIT GAUTAM has just left for the day”.
    And I will arrange a call back from him to you at 11:00 AM tomorrow. I
    was like wtf? He was suppose to give me status of my problem and now he

    What kind of non-professional behavior is that? And Airtel have such
    kind of non-professional manager to manage whole unit? It is really
    disappointing. What should I do now?

    • I agree with you Deepak. Things are worse & even worse! Had a similar experience from Tata Indicom Broadband & it was horrible. No one in India cares about a support once the service / product is sold. Bitter truth…

  2. It’s not surprising that Tata telecom is nowhere in this list. My experience with their broadband and dongle service (photon+) has been appalling. Their service is non-existent and their speeds are amongst the worst I’ve seen in Mumbai.

    • You’re right. I recently got a 2mbps additional broadband line from Hathway – and I am very much happy for last 3 months. Their service is 99% UP and speeds are way too good. You can try Hathway in Mumbai…

    • @sachinmry i know 🙂 but these are top grossing companies. Beam is only in HYD and yes, BEAM is the reason I miss being in HYD 🙂

  3. Tushar,

    I am not sure what all these companies done to improve their services in village areas. I have been hearing from people in villages that signals are not good on mobile phones, calls drop, poor quality, background noise and connection issues.

    These are not just today or yesterday, I have been hearing this since past several years. Not just the telephone calls, I recently bought a high end mobile phone with internet, email and other wifi services, more than a month since I bought, every time I contact him, one or the other issues.

    Do you know if there is any better services in villages in India, I am talking about rural Tamil Nadu in Vellore Dist. I am sure this is probably the case in villages around India.

    what kind of phones or services or internet will work in those areas?,



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