WFH, e-learning cause spike in broadband demand

City COVID-19 Tech

Work from home and e-learning requirements have led to a sharp rise in the number of broadband connection subscribers.

Sudhir K Gupta, secretary of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), informed The Observer: “According to data published by TRAI, during the lockdown, broadband connections increased by 6% within the duration of April to June.”

With high-speed internet proving to be an integral part of individual’s lives, TRAI experienced a major change in Internet utilization patterns.

About the growing requirement of needs of broadband connectivity for high speed and uninterrupted network, he added: “Telecom service providers are not solely responsible for the customer complaints regarding poor networks. Instead, it is a group effort. Areas such as improving infrastructural facilities and the use of cable TV for broadband must be considered.”

Also read | Raising broadband quality, speed requires holistic approach: TRAI official

Himen Makadiya, an assistant manager at GTPL Ahmedabad Cable Telelink Pvt Ltd (ACTPL), said: “In the Covid-19 scenario, a steady Internet connection has become more of a necessity than a facility. Earlier, broadband connections were a part of upper-class families only. But now, due to frequent video calls for office meetings and children’s online classes, even middle-class families are opting for the same.”

“Earlier, broadband connections were an integral part of developed cities like Mumbai, Delhi, etc. but less awareness existed in small city areas. Due to the Covid-19 situation, there is an around 50% rise in the new connections in less populated cities. The connections increased from 100 to 350 per month,” he added.

Also read | Amid pandemic, fixed broadband grows in smaller cities

In spite of the high demand, a lack of infrastructure prevents telecom companies from providing wired connections to small cities.

“Due to a lack of infrastructural facilities, Reliance Jio Fiber Broadband Plans are not accessible in small cities like Porbandar,” said Mahesh Andani, an employee at Jio Digital Life, Porbandar.

Asking about the challenges faced by the industry, Nikunj Nakum, desk engineer at Speed O Bits Internet, Rajkot, shared: “It is now mandatory for us to provide services 24/7. People working at international firms might be working during the night hence we have to keep a check upon the signals 24/7. Also, a rise in opportunities has led to increased work and extended office hours.”

“Our monthly customers rose from 70-100 to 1,000 customers per month. We decreased the price of Internet plans to expand our customer base.”

Mohit Kotecha, Assistant Manager at Deloitte Haskins and Sells LLP, Mumbai, said: “I have been working from home since mid-March. Due to connectivity issues while using a mobile hotspot, I had to resort to a broadband connection. Our firm encourages all employees to set up their broadband connections.” It reimburses personal data charges to those not provided dongles.

“Internet through mobile hotspot isn’t able to fulfill the daily requirements. It either gets exhausted or loses connectivity in the midst of lectures due to poor connectivity. Low connectivity results in difficulty in gaining conceptual clarity which further leads to poor scores,” said Kinal Lila, a student at the GMC International School.

Consumers say Internet service providers do not answer their calls for assistance.

Vatsal Rachchh, a broadband subscriber from Rajkot, said: “We activated a two-year plan of 50 mbps costing Rs 9,000 with GTPL connections. But the speed is highly interruptive. Before 10 am and after 10 pm, Internet (connectivity) is uncertain. They don’t even respond to complaint calls and emails.”

“Also, GTPL doesn’t provide separate wire lines for different customers but links four to five connections with a single wire which results in irritation and bad network connection,” he added.

Anandi Kanabar, a dance teacher at Sasan Gir, said: “Poor connectivity, unanswered calls and unsolved network issues by telecom companies forced me to shift to a broadband connection in order to run my classes smoothly.”

Also read | TRAI to start discussion on improving speed and reliability of broadband connectivity

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