Days of low internet speed on mobile and broadband networks could soon be over. The government has kickstarted the process of giving a boost to the minimum-mandated internet speed from existing 512 kbps to at least 2 mbps and more.
Telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan said the government was mindful of slow internet speed experienced by internet users in many parts of the country.
Internet speeds are nowhere close to the numbers promised by companies in 3G and 4G data packs and advertisements. And, the issue is critical as India prepares for rollout of 5G services as well as a host of other applications focused around internet-of-things (IoT). “We are very slow. While we have done a lot on (providing internet) access, we have not been able to actually deliver the quality of service that is required,” Sundararajan told TOI here.
The telecom secretary said India required faster speed in the wake of gradual transformation of the country to a digital economy. These include initiatives such as smart cities, digital India programmes, efforts on digital payments, and 5G.
Asked whether 2 mbps – which is also being pushed forward by regulator Trai – will be sufficient for digital transformation, she said, “2 mbps is the basic minimum. We should definitely mandate this. If at all, it should be higher than that. It cannot be lower than that.”
The issue of slower internet speed has been a painful experience for majority of mobile customers, especially when download speed for videos and other such services is nowhere near satisfactory level. All this is happening at a time when telecom companies are rolling out faster 4G networks across the country, a move that has gained pace after the launch of services by Reliance Jio in September last year.
Older telecom companies, however, have been averse to the idea of having a higher threshold when it comes to internet speed.
“Their main concerns in this regard were limited availability of spectrum per operator in 2G/3G bands; low coverage zones such as basements, high rise buildings, tunnels; and variations due to external factors such as subscriber’s device quality and type, number of subscribers browsing the data services, peak/off peak time, transmission bandwidth, website behaviour etc.,” Trai said in its ‘Consultation Paper on Data Speed Under Wireless Broadband Plans’ released in June this year.
Trai has also pointed to weaker internet speed in its consultation paper. “… it was noticed that the advertised speed differed substantially from the actual… Data speeds quoted by mobile network operators often appear to be at variance with those experienced by users. For instance, crowd-sourced data from Trai’s my Speed portal shows that quite a few 3G subscribers throughout the country receive a download speed of less than 1 Mbps. Moreover, these ‘below 1 Mbps’ speed can go as low as 10 Kbp for some 3G subscribers.”