Internet Plan: Comparison of Simpati, Xl, Smartfren, IM3

It seems that we can no longer overlook data plan, or internet plan, when drafting our monthly budget nowadays. When was the last time we forgot to check our emails or social media for a whole day? Despite being a tertiary needs, this infrastructure is just as compulsory as the water and air that we need to have in our lives.

“Even when planning for holidays, I want to make sure that the destination is within the internet range,” says Manda, a blogger who spends an average Rp 200,000 a month for mobile internet plan. A 2015 survey by Google Indonesia found that in average, Indonesians are spending 5.5 hours per day to look at their phone screens. In big cities like Jakarta and Surabaya, it is also common for a person to be carrying 2-3 phones at a time.

If you are among the 80 million Indonesians who use the internet daily, you will have to be smart in choosing the plan that is both affordable and effective to cover your needs. For example, if you frequently access YouTube and Netflix, is it better for you to subscribe to an unlimited internet plan or a volume based plan?

Calculating Monthly Internet Use

According to Royce Simona, a gadget and technology observer, it would be good for us to calculate our monthly data consumption to be able to decide the amount of data plan that we actually need.

“Some mobile operators offer unlimited internet plan, but the price is almost twice the normal cost. Not to mention that they have set a data consumption limit – Fair Usage Policy, or FUP – usually around 1GB. After you exceed the limit, your internet speed will be significantly reduced,” he explains.

For example, Indosat IM3 offers an unlimited internet plan at Rp50,000, with 500MB FUP at a maximum speed of 185 Mbps. Therefore, when you have exceeded the 500MB data limit, your speed will be reduced to 16 Kbps, or around 1% of the initial speed. That means you can no longer watch a YouTube video stream smoothly.

You can make an estimate of the amount of bandwidth you need based on your daily routines. Our estimation might not be 100% accurate but it goes like this; e.g. a 3-minute YouTube video with standard resolution (480p) takes up around 17MB data, while one Netflix movie with Standard-Definition (SD) quality will consume around 1GB data per hour – or 3GB for HD quality.

Regular calls between two different GSM operators will cost Rp 2,000 per minute – which is probably why many have now turned to using audio call feature on messenger apps like WhatsApp, Viber, Line or Kakao Talk. One minute of WhatsApp call on a 3G network will consume around 0.2MB. If you are using XL without subscribing to any internet plan, you will be charged Rp 1 per KB or Rp 200 per minute. If you use Skype video call for business communication, your data consumption will be around 30MB per minute. This would only be possible if you and the person you are contacting have reliable internet connection, because good voice quality requires 3G network support.

What about Facebook? When you browse around Facebook – chatting, browsing photos, updating status and visiting some other sites from links – you would consume around 2MB data per minute.

Assuming that you access Facebook on an average of 10 minutes a day, you will need at least 600MB data within a month. If you are on YouTube for an average of 30 minutes a week – while stuck in traffic, you will consume around 680MB data. Adding emails, online radio, regular visits to online shopping sites, et cetera, you will need around 1.2GB to 2GB. If you limit viewing streaming service to only when you are connected to a Wi-Fi network, you can reduce internet data consumption up to 800MB per month.

The easiest way to calculate a budget for your internet plan is by writing down the top five websites or mobile apps you often visit within a month and estimating the total data used from each site or app a month. Volume based internet plan usually costs 20% cheaper if you choose the 30-day active period, compared to the internet plan for 7 or 14 days active period.

Here is an estimate of internet data use based on your regular habits:

How to count internet data usage

Choosing the Right Mobile Network Operator

Some operators compete among themselves by offering low prices, but in the end speed and network coverage are the main considerations in choosing your data operator.

The internet speed is affected by the network quality in your area. One of the easiest ways to test the network quality in your area is by running the Speedtest app which is available for free at Google Play Store or Apple App Store.

“Choose the provider with a minimum of 4 Mbps (download speed) test result, the higher the number the better,” Royce suggests.

Based on all of the above considerations, here are some comparisons on internet plan among popular GSM operators in Indonesia:

Price Comparison of Internet Plan from Telkomsel Simpati/ As, XL, Indosat IM3/ Mentari Ooredoo, Smartfren & Bolt*

You can download table for the latest pricing of internet plan here.

*All prices are correct when this article was written and are subject to change without prior notice.

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