Dig­i­tal In­dia: In­ter­net speed is the first big ob­sta­cle, finds VOICE study

Consumer Voice - - In The News -

A re­cently con­cluded study con­ducted by Vol­un­tary Or­gan­i­sa­tion in the In­ter­est of Con­sumer Ed­u­ca­tion (VOICE) has re­vealed that the in­ter­net speed pro­vided to users across the coun­try is far be­low what is claimed by their re­spec­tive ser­vice providers. The study con­cludes that In­dia is amongst the coun­tries with the low­est in­ter­net speed in the world.

Ti­tled As­sess­ment of Im­pact of Qual­ity of In­ter­net Ser­vices on In­ter­net Users, the study also es­tab­lishes that con­sumers are not able to dis­tin­guish be­tween poor, av­er­age and good qual­ity of ser­vice. The find­ings are backed with in­puts from 52,000 in­ter­net users across 19 states of In­dia. Apart from as­sess­ing the im­pact of qual­ity of in­ter­net ser­vices de­liv­ered to its con­sumers, the study has also out­lined the short­com­ings and im­ped­i­ments that ser­vice providers need to work upon, as well as in­ter­ven­tions re­quired of gov­ern­ment bod­ies in­clud­ing the Tele­com Reg­u­la­tory Au­thor­ity of In­dia (TRAI).

The study mea­sured the ac­tual wire­lesss in­ter­net speeds and found that he av­er­age 3G speeds were only 1.5 mbps, while 4G pro­vided an av­er­age speed of just about 4.10 mbps – the low­est in the world. As per in­ter­na­tional norms, 4G speeds are sup­posed to be be­tween 40mbps and 150 mbps, which means In­dian tele­com com­pa­nies that are claim­ing to be pro­vid­ing 4G tech­nol­ogy are ac­tu­ally de­liv­er­ing 3G speeds.

Dur­ing the study, the VOICE team tried to an­a­lyse users’ per­cep­tion of var­i­ous pa­ram­e­ters of qual­ity of in­ter­net, im­pact of in­ter­net on var­i­ous as­pects of life in­clud­ing ease of ac­cess­ing ser­vices like bank­ing and med­i­cal, or so­cio­cul­tural and so­ciopo­lit­i­cal en­gage­ments through on­line net­works and in­for­ma­tion medi­ums, as well as its util­ity in em­pow­er­ing marginalis­ed com­mu­ni­ties and those with spe­cial needs. The re­port states that de­spite low speed, in­ter­net is play­ing a sig­nif­i­cant role in al­most all as­pects of peo­ple’s lives.

As­sess­ing the qual­ity of in­ter­net ser­vice (QoIS), the re­port con­cludes that ‘qual­ity of in­ter­net’ is syn­ony­mous with the ‘speed of in­ter­net’ for com­mon peo­ple, and that re­li­a­bil­ity, avail­abil­ity, costs and cus­tomer sup­port by ser­vice providers are not per­ceived to be as sig­nif­i­cant as the speed while choos­ing the ser­vice provider. VOICE has shared the fol­low­ing rec­om­men­da­tions with TRAI:

• For bet­ter qual­ity of speed, a manda­tory dis­clo­sure of av­er­age down­load speed should be made, which must be met/pro­vided at least 95 per cent of the times the ser­vice is be­ing used.

• In­ter­net ser­vice providers (ISPs) should in­clude a speed mea­sure­ment tool in their apps and main­tain a record of av­er­age speed dur­ing the day, week and month.

• ISPs should dis­close min­i­mum and max­i­mum speeds on daily, weekly, monthly and quar­terly ba­sis, and com­pen­sate con­sumers for fail­ing to ad­here to av­er­age down­load speeds and down time. TRAI should cre­ate a mech­a­nism for com­pen­sa­tion for quan­tifi­able losses be­low the bench­mark.

• ISPs must de­clare min­i­mum speeds at the time of sell­ing plans.

• TRAI’s MySpeed App should be made more ro­bust and user-friendly. It should be able to pro­vide speed com­par­isons for each base trans­ceiver sta­tion (BTS) and also show com­par­isons of ISPs at given BTS.

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