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Internet Speeds Are Going To Be The Biggest Deterrant Against Work From Home In India

With India going under lockdown for the next few days after the government advised people to work from home, broadband and mobile users are seeing slowdowns in internet speeds. Dropped calls, buffering and slow speeds seem to have become quite common going by multiple reports on social media.

The work from home experiment currently being tested out across the country may see a big obstacle in the form of poor internet speeds. Experts and analysts had warned, saying existing infrastructures of leading telecom providers like Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea are inadequate to handle the surge in home internet use across the country.

A surge in mobile data usage expected in the next few weeks

According to an ET report, present average data usage in a month stands at 10.37GB which analysts interviewed in the report claims can rise by 15 percent during the next two quarters provided people continue to work from home amidst the pandemic.

COAI, which represents telecom operators like Airtel, Jio and Vodafone have urged OTT companies to reduce their streaming quality to reduce the strain on the network infrastructure. More people are expected to tune into online video streaming services as they are forced to stay home.

However, with most urban Indians logging into the internet via fixed broadband connections, broadband ISPs will have a tough time keeping up. Video conferencing, video calls, video streaming and other heavy consumption may cause speeds to take a hit nation-wide. We’re already seeing instances of slowdown on social media. Latest data on TRAI’s website pegs fixed broadband users in India at 22.6 million while around 66.537 million are using mobile and wireless data to log in.

Work from home Employees applying for faster broadband connections

In line with this prediction, another ET report claims home broadband providers are seeing a rise in traffic demand with more customers now opting for a fixed broadband connection to run enterprise-grade software including video conferencing.

The report states that Bharti Airtel’s broadband which is present in 100 cities are seeing an increased demand for new connections. State-run BSNL even rolled out a new ‘Work@Home’ plan for free of cost to existing BSNL Landline customers wherein the telco is offering free installation and no security deposit for landline users looking to upgrade to broadband.

Similarly, local broadband providers like Excitel and Spectra are also seeing a spike in new connections. CEO of Excitel, Vivek Raina told ET that it can accommodate twice the load at present and is ready for the increased demand.

State governments urging ISPS to increase internet speeds

To accommodate this rise in demand, state governments have also asked local ISPs to increase internet speeds. A Business Standard report states ISPs in Kerala has agreed to increase speeds by 30-40 percent of the present capacity.

Broadband charges are also coming under scrutiny in the present situation, with most startups in Bengaluru not offering to reimburse internet bills for employees working from home according to a report by Livemint. To help tide this over, ISPs like ACT has removed the unlimited fair usage policy till March-end and raising speeds to as high as 300Mbps. Karnataka’s IT/BT ministry also said it will look into complaints of internet slowdown in the state.

—Digit

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