Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the industry body for telecom operators like Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea, has urged its mobile customers to use their data more responsibly. The appeal from COAI comes at a time when data usage has been reported to increase, thanks to Covid 19 lockdown which has forced citizens to flood their home networks for professional use. PTI has reported that Rajan Mathews, director of COAI has asked mobile users to pick off-peak hours for some of the online activities which would ease the overall network congestion.
“We are asking people for responsible usage of network…to avoid any trivial use of internet and networks…so that remote working, online education, digital healthcare, payments and other critical services, can run smoothly and uninterrupted,” Mathews told PTI.
Mathews also said that there was a 20 to 30% increase in data demand in the last few days due to lockdowns in several states and territories.
Several users have already complained on social media that their networks have been patchy. Netflix, YouTube and Facebook have all said that they will aid in easing network congestion for Indian telecom operators. While Netflix and Facebook would reduce bitrates, YouTube suggested that the default stream would be switched to standard definition.
It has to be noted that move from the streaming majors like Netflix to limit the bitrates or switching to standard definition as in the case of YouTube is being applied on many regions across the world.
“To help alleviate potential network congestion, we are temporarily reducing bit rates for videos on Facebook and Instagram in certain regions,” Alex Schultz, VP of Analytics, and Jay Parikh, VP of Engineering said in a statement. “As this global public health crisis advances and more people are physically separated from their communities, we expect that people will continue to rely on our services to stay connected during this time, and we hope these connections make it easier for people to stay home.”
Further on Thursday, COAI in a tweet said that it would be taking few measures which include a temporary switch to standard definition streaming. In a separate tweet on Wednesday, COAI said that the digital industry “unanimously agreed” to offering standard definition content on cellular networks until April 14.
This would indicate that most people consuming streaming apps at least on mobile networks would be viewing content on standard definition on default mode.
Additionally, it was said that pop-ups and advertisements that consume more bandwidth are replaced with public awareness about Coronavirus.
Mathews on Wednesday said that the COAI would be pushing Cell on Wheels (COWs) to cope with network coverage and congestion. Mathews said that the COWs is a mechanism that would be pushed in addition to items like emergency grant of additional spectrum on a temporary basis to handle load using existing network infrastructure.
With such rapid developments in the last few days, it remains to be seen if the government and the telecom operators can work together to improve the data quality on cellular networks.