Internet speed slows down; OTT players may switch to SD content instead of HD

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced India to lockdown. With so many people locked indoors, there has been a surge in internet usage. Indian users are reporting a severe drop in the speeds.

The slowdown was expected but it is now getting worse. The speeds are likely to go down by another 25-30%. Consumers of both mobile and home broadband have reported an increase in their data usage. Rajesh Chharia, President of Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI) said, “Data usage will increase 30% at least over the next few weeks and the uptick will continue till the lockdown exists. The networks are not ready to take this increase. At this moment, the government should allow sharing of active infrastructure between ISPs so that cellular operators can offload their data traffic to ISPs.”

The cellular network data consumption has increased by 70% since the lockdown in large cities such as Bengaluru and Hyderabad. The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) that represents all private telecoms have estimated that the data consumption has increased by 30% during the lockdown period.

India has 687.62 million internet users, out of which 22.26 million are wired broadband connections and rest are all wireless mobile internet connections. The peak hours of internet usage are from 9 am to 11 am, and 4 pm to 9 pm.

Over the top (OTT) platforms including Hotstar, Zee5, Viacom 18, and Voot have responded COAI’s request to reduce bandwidth. The request letter was sent to 11 OTT players. Some of them have agreed to reduce bitrates to lessen the burden on telecom networks.

OTT players are likely to move to standard definition instead of high definition streaming. COAI has also asked the Department of Telecommunication to instruct OTT players to comply.