3G Cost In India Will Burst Music Cloud Bubble

Even though Google and Amazon have not yet released their cloud music service in India, the excitement around it is palpable in cities where 3G has been rolled out. One of our team members, Rakshith, can’t wait for Google Music to come to India because he wants access to music anywhere, anytime. To quote him “Have a 3G connection and u have all ur songs in one click. And its FREE if im not wrong.” He was referring to the free 20000 song upload for the Google Music Beta. I asked, “What about 3G costs?”. We had a good debate and that was that.

The matter resurfaced over the weekend though, when a visitor on our blog sent me an email about streaming music. He seemed very keen about it because “anyway i pay for 3G”.

For some reason, people seem to be putting blinders on when it comes to 3G costs. Sorry to burst the bubble, my fellow music buffs but here is something you should know about the prevalent 3G plans:

  • The more you use, the more you pay. There is no unlimited plan. You cannot justify your music streaming with “anyway I am paying” rationale.
  • 3G plans are not cheap.

Based on your listening habits and assuming music streamed at 128kbps, here’s what your 3G cost would be:

Hours of streaming per month510152025
Bandwidth used (MB)281.25562.5843.7511251406.25
Approx annual cost based on current tarrifs (Rs)240054006000810010125

If your argument then is that you’re willing to pay this price for the convenience of having access to your music everywhere, I would say you can pay a lower price for a portable media player like an iPod, which you can truly access everywhere unlike over 3G which is only available in some cities and is unpredictable even in cities it’s rolled out (I’ve been a 3G user for almost a year). You actually save money if you buy a media player:

If you listen to..…you could buy…at Rs…and save over 5 years (approx life of device) Rs
5 hrs of music per monthiPod shuffle32006628
10 hrs of music per monthiPod nano 8GB1070011413
15 hrs of music per monthiPod nano 16GB1270011870
20 hrs of music per monthiPod Classic1520017970
25 hrs of music per monthiPod Classic1520026263

The savings calculation factors in a 10% reduction in 3G tarrif every year over 5 years. Of course, iPod is a premium product and the savings would be much higher if you bought a cheaper media player.

The only compelling argument I can think of for streaming music on the cloud is that your music collection is so big that it does not fit in any portable media player (more than 160GB if you consider iPod).

So, before you jump on to the cloud music bandwagon, you might want to figure out what your 3G cost works out to based on your listening habits and compare it against the cost of a suitable media player.