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Opensignal: Telecom networks did not slow down due to data surge in second lockdown

Unlike last year, when the pandemic broke out and internet download speeds dropped due to high usage, this year during the Covid-19 second wave the download speed experience has been smoother, a paper by mobile analytics firm Opensignal said on June 10.

“Despite rising mobile data consumption, the download speeds experienced by users [of mobile data in India] have been maintained,” the mobile analytics firm Opensignal said on June 10. This was a marked improvement from the situation during the first lockdown, Opensignal said.

Data consumption during the first lockdown increased per user by 26.8 to 30.1%, and data speeds dropped comparably, as shown in the graph below, up to almost 25% — this indicates that network capacity didn’t have enough overhead to handle a 30% surge in one go without losing speed. Telcos seem to have learned the lesson since then, though, with speeds remaining more or less the same even with a comparable (but not an equally huge) surge in data demand.

Source: Opensignal

“By contrast, last year, Opensignal measured the Indian users’ mobile network experience across the country during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and we found that as mobile data traffic increased, mobile speeds dropped, indicating a more resilient experience in 2021 than in 2020,” analyst Hardik Khatri wrote.

Opensignal cited reports that Airtel and Jio are rolling out the additional spectrum in some telecom circles. This will likely improve network readiness even more, as such deployments often involve reconfiguring existing hardware, as opposed to rolling out more hardware per se.

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