With more and more people staying inside their homes because of COVID-19 scare, the internet has become a crucial part of staying connected with the world. Average time for a user staying online has increased significantly. This has put a lot of pressure on the internet and mobile network operators to provide a seamless service to the users. Millions of people have moved back from the urban areas, Tier 1 and 2 cities to their villages or rural areas. This has resulted in a higher demand for high-speed data in rural areas of India. As per research, Indian users saw a fall of internet speed during the initial phase of lockdown. What was interesting was to see that people living in Tier 2 cities saw a more pronounced downfall in internet speed than that of people living in Tier 1 cities.
Lesser Internet Speed in Tier 2 Cities
Lesser internet speed means frustration and nothing close to a seamless internet-work experience. This is what happened with people using the internet in Tier 2 cities. It is not that Tier 1 cities didn’t face any issues with internet speed, but it was more pronounced in Tier 2 cities. Since the time Janta Curfew was implemented (March 16, 2020), internet download speed started dropping. It was a clear result of network congestion as more and more people were relying on their mobile networks to get internet. On average, internet download speed dropped by 16% for the user's reports Opensignal.
But as the lockdown progressed and reached its second phase (April 13 to May 3), internet download speed started going up gradually. However, it was still not the pre-COVID-19 level speed, but better than the initial phase of the first lockdown. Finally, in the third phase of the lockdown (May 4 to May 17) users got their normal download speed back in the majority of cities.
The pattern for Tier 1 cities was a little different than that of Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities in the first phase of lockdown. Chennai and Bangalore did not see any significant decrease in the download speed, whereas users in Pune faced a further decrease in speed by 6.9% to 12.5%. Post the first lockdown phase though, Tier 1 cities also started getting higher download speeds.
More Internet Speed for People in Urban Cities
By the end of the fourth phase of lockdown, download speed for users in most of the cities returned to normal. But surprisingly, some users started getting higher download speed than they have ever got. This trend of higher download speed started spreading to more and more cities. It started happening from July 1 when the lockdown rules were relaxed to the most extent. But it was more of the Tier 1 cities which saw the speed improvement.
For the week ending July 12, internet users in Delhi got a 38% higher download speed than usual. This was followed by users in Mumbai who got a 33.5% higher download speed, Hyderabad with 33.1% higher download speed, and Ghaziabad and Chennai with 32.4% and 30.4% higher download speed.
There are a number of reasons why the downfall in internet speed came. One of the major reasons is telecom operators removing limits on data usage and also providing cheaper data packages. Another is that the operators themselves reduced the max speed for users to ensure that their network can handle the increasing demand without an outage.
The reason why Tier 1 cities are getting higher internet speed is the underutilisation of network infrastructure which is made for managing higher internet load. Since people already migrated back to their hometowns from these Tier 1 cities, there are a lesser number of people using the internet than before in the Tier 1 cities. Thus, it has resulted in better internet download speed for the users.