An inevitable surge in-home internet use followed the nationwide lockdown after the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak. The closure of entertainment zones such as cinema halls, malls, and parks, coupled with the shutting down of offices fuelled this further. Online classes also increased the data demand.
This massive use of data has led to decreased speeds, causing big trouble for those working from home as well as for those who take the online route to entertainment. DH takes a closer look, interacting with a cross-section of Bengalureans to get a pulse of the issue.
Leona Joseph, a resident of S G Palayam, observes: “Over the past 100 days, social media platforms and other entertainment streaming companies are in search of ways to provide us with a smooth consumption pattern. The new norm has forced us to depend on the internet for our livelihood, education and to stay connected.”
But this enormous consumption of data and the need to stay updated to the last minute, Joseph says, has made speed of the internet a major concern.
Lakshmi Suresh, a student of Christ University finds it hard to attend her online classes due to low speeds. “With the added burden of online classes being taken by lakhs of students, the already declining internet speed has taken another dip,” she notes.
These speed issues, Lakshmi adds, “mean short tempers running high, coupled with cabin fever and the fear of the virus. Everything contributes to a lower level of tolerance for everything involved.”
Driven by technology, entertainment has long meant a shift from books, TV shows and cinema halls to the small screen, e-books, and online streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar and YouTube.
“When the pandemic hit and we, as an entire community was forced into lockdown, years of dependence of entertainment on streaming services and YouTube finally manifested to bite us. As a whole, we’d abandoned older entertainment practices that did not require WiFi or data, to the point that slow internet is now the cause for acute annoyance and in extreme cases, anger,” says Lakshmi.
The dip in internet speed has emerged as a virtual curse for those who are working from home. Most corporate firms now insist that employees take the WFH option. Prajith T, who is an online marketer, elaborates, “Working from home is hectic. To add to this, sometimes internet or the software we are using will become slow without any reason.”
This, he says, “will increase our anxiety and create a doubt whether the person can achieve the specific target for the day. Some days, the power cut will force us to use mobile internet instead of broadband, which causes more stress to complete our job.”
The focus, post-lockdown should be on upgrading data coverage. Prajith says in the days to come, consumption of internet will spike again. “If internet speed is low in a metropolitan city like Bengaluru, what will be the situation in rural India? The future should be our concern as the normal school and office days will take a long time to start over,” he notes.
However, Sreejesh Kakkoth, Senior Manager at an IT firm, has a different experience to share: “I personally never felt an Internet speed issue. In fact, I think the ISP (Internet Service Provider) team has done its best to provide the best services to the users. Otherwise, they might lose large numbers of users in a short span.”
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