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Coronavirus impact: Work from home leads to data speed disruption; firms call for fresh spectrum allocation

Experts have said that the existing telecom infrastructure of Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance JIO is not equipped to handle a sudden rise in data consumption across the country

Coronavirus impact: Work from home leads to data speed disruption; firms call for fresh spectrum allocation

India has 22.26 million broadband users

Sharp slowdowns in data speeds, dropped video calls and heavy buffering may be in the near future for all consumers of mobile and home broadband services as more and more employees from across industries are being ordered to work from home amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

Experts have said that the existing telecom infrastructure of Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance JIO is not equipped to handle a sudden rise in data consumption across the country. The infrastructure has already been suffering from continuing spectrum crunch, low fiberisation and poor wired broadband penetration.

They believe the time has come for the government to create more WiFI hotspots, allocate fresh spectrum resources and enable fast-track fiber rollout. These steps should be taken before the infrastructure is overwhelmed by the sudden rise in data consumption.

The latest data released by the telecom regulator had stated that the average monthly wireless data usage per consumer is at 10.37 GB. Analysts say that the monthly data usage by an average consumer may rise by around 15 percent in the next two quarters if the virus spreads and people continue to work from home.

T.V Ramachandran, the President of Broadband India Forum (BIF), told the daily that quality of telecom services is bound to suffer as the industry does not have the required resources to handle a sudden spike in home internet consumption.

Ramachandran said the government should quickly incentivise fibre rollouts and allocate fresh spectrum resources.

The Telecom companies, however, are confident that they would be able to handle the increase in data consumption. A Bharti Airtel spokesman told the daily, "sufficient capacity to provide bandwidth-on-demand to our retail and enterprise customers".

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