The mobile internet users across India witnessed a dip in download speeds during the initial phases of the COVID-19 lockdown, Opensignal said in a report. The company engaged in the mobile network analytics said that the dip in the mobile internet speeds was more prominent in Tier 2 cities as compared to Tier 1 cities. However, Opensignal said that the easing of the lockdown restrictions has resulted in an noticeable improvement in the download speeds especially for the users in Tier 1 cities. The company said that it analyzed the Download Speed Experience as observed by the Indian smartphone users in the last five months “to understand how their mobile network experience changed during COVID-19” lockdown. The five month period is said to be between January 27 to July 12 with Opensignal analyzing the Download Speed Experience of Indian users over 23 weeks.
Tier 2 Networks Not Designed to Handle Higher Loads
Opensignal said that its users in most cities across India experienced similar download speeds during the first seven weeks of its analysis. However, the company said that its users observed a “significant change” since the week of March 16, when the government introduced the one day lockdown dubbed as Janta Curfew.
“In the following three weeks when a strict countrywide lockdown was imposed, we recorded a sharp decline in overall download speeds, suggesting congestion on mobile networks,” Opensignal said in the report.
The company said that the mobile internet users in Tier 1 cities witnessed a 16% decline in download speeds during the first phase of lockdown ending in the second week of April. Further, Opensignal said that the users in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities witnessed a 25% and 23% decline in download speeds respectively.
Solapur, Ludhiana, Nashik, Surat and Ahmedabad were the Tier 2 cities said to have witnessed a 35% decline in average download speeds in the first phase of lockdown as compared to pre-lockdown levels.
In the second phase of the lockdown between April 13 to May 3, Opensignal said that the Indian users continued to witness “significantly lower” download speeds as compared to pre-lockdown levels. However, Opensignal said that the download speeds “gradually improved over time.”
The company said that the download speeds returned to pre-lockdown levels in a majority of cities during the third phase of lockdown between May 4 to May 17.
“The lockdown has also led to a mass migration of India’s interstate migrant workers from cities to their hometowns in suburban or rural areas, which means users may be spending more time in parts of the country where operators originally may have not designed network infrastructure to manage large traffic loads,” Opensignal said in the report.
Normalcy Returns During Fourth Phase of Lockdown
The company said that download speeds displayed different patterns across Tier 1 cities with Bengaluru and Chennai not witnessing any “significant decrease” in download speeds. However, Opensignal said that the mobile internet users in Pune witnessed a decline of 6.9% to 12.5% in the download speeds during the first phase of the lockdown. The download speeds in several other Tier 1 cities is also tipped to have returned to normal levels in the second phase of the lockdown.
Further, Opensignal also said that the download speeds in the majority of cities across India returned to normal levels towards the end of the fourth phase of the lockdown. The company said that the download speeds showed “no significant difference” from the pre-lockdown levels in the majority of the cities towards the end of the fourth phase of lockdown between May 18 to May 31.
The users in several cities across India are said to have witnessed “significantly faster download speeds” from July 1 as the government of India announced the Unlock 2.0.
“This pattern appeared earlier in Tier 1 cities, where there was a more pronounced improvement in download speeds,” Opensignal said.
The company said that its users in Delhi witnessed the “greatest improvement” in the download speeds by 38.1% during the last week of its analysis ending July 12. Further, the Opensignal users in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Ghaziabad and Chennai are said to have witnessed 33.5%, 33.1, 32.4% and 30.4% improvement in download speeds during the week ending July 12. However, Opensignal said that the mobile internet users in Dhanbad, Kanpur, Solapur and Thiruvananthapuram continue to witness lower download speeds even post the relaxation of the lockdown.
Unlike the Tier 1 cities, Opensignal said that the download speeds in Tier 2 cities haven’t registered a “significant improvement” even after the government relaxations in the lockdown.