With the telecom networks across India “getting modernized with deep fiberisations,” it should “impact the overall quality of the internet relatively soon,” says Gabriele Racaityte-Racai, communications manager at Surfshark. In July 2020, Surfshark, a virtual private network (VPN) service provider in its Digital Quality of Life Index highlighted that India is ranked 78th in terms of internet quality. The Digital Quality of Life Index is said to cover 85 countries with Bangladesh, Nepal, Nigeria, Peru, Algeria, Philippines and Sri Lanka registering lower ranks than India on the internet quality metric.
Slow Internet Speeds Impacts Overall User Experience
Racai told TelecomTalk that India in 78th spot is at the “bottom of pillar with unstable and slow mobile internet dragging it down in the overall internet quality index.”
“The government needs to put it as a high-priority initiative since the internet plays an even more significant role now as almost everything has moved online due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” Racai told TelecomTalk in an email interview.
With India recording nearly 300,000 coronavirus cases, multiple regions across the country have encouraged companies, private offices and institutions to ask their employees to work from home. Following the initial countrywide lockdown in March 2020, ExpressVPN in a report said that India recorded an 15% spike in VPN usage. Racai said that the coronavirus pandemic has moved life online.
“We work, shop, do everyday banking, and even socialize through online tools,” Racai said. “This urgent move to the online sphere opened a pathway for cybercriminals. A VPN ensures users' online privacy and protects their sensitive data by hiding their real IP addresses and encrypting all the traffic.”
Racai said that VPN “makes it extremely difficult” for cybercriminals to “intercept” the user data and aids users to “secure any sensitive information.”
Daniel Markusson, digital privacy expert at NordVPN said that more users across the world need to use VPNs and “leave them on all the time.”
“You probably wouldn’t like it if a stranger was constantly staring at your home window and observing what you do,” Markusson told TelecomTalk in an email interview. “But such strangers can peep through your browser window too. And they do it more often than you think.”
While Surfshark has over 3200 servers in 65 countries across the world, it is relatively new to the market having made its debut in 2018. In comparison, NordVPN was launched in 2012 with the company now offering over 5400 servers in 59 countries. In India, NordVPN servers are said to be located in Mumbai and Chennai while Surfshark servers are present in Indore along with Mumbai and Chennai.
“There is no doubt that slow internet speeds have an impact on the overall user experience,” Racai said. “Having local servers positively affects the overall daily browsing experience because the closer a server is geographically, the better is the speed.”
Best VPN for India Should Offer Wide Variety of Servers
While it remains to be seen whether India does record a significant spike in VPN usage due to recent region-wise lockdowns, GlobalData said that remote working will “foster the growth of VPNs” across India. In June 2020, the data analytics company said that prolonged COVID-19 could be a “revenue encashing opportunity for telcos.”
“The best VPN for India should have a wide variety of servers and different configurations for different purposes,” Racai said. “Since the internet quality is relatively low in India, it would be best if a VPN would have several local servers to choose from so your browsing experience would be smooth and buffer-free.”
Markusson said that users need to look at a “couple of things” while selecting a VPN provider like reviews and split tunneling. The digital privacy expert at NordVPN said that the user reviews are an “excellent way to see if the VPN is suffering from connection issues or slow internet speeds.” Further, Markusson said that split tunneling allows users to “decide which traffic they want to be VPN-protected.”
“So essentially, they can split their online traffic between being encrypted and decrypted,” Markusson said.
Crucially, Markusson highlighted that NordLynx, the proprietary VPN protocol of NordVPN enables users to “experience up to 2x increase in download and upload speed.”
Meanwhile, Racai said that Surfshark focuses on the expansion of its servers to overcome the slow internet speeds.
“Seeking to provide a better service for our users in terms of speeds, we primarily focus on expanding the network of our servers,” Racai said. “Also, we have recently rolled out the WireGuard protocol, which offers faster speeds and lower ping times than the widespread OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSec protocols.”