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BW Businessworld

Slow, Unsteady Internet Speed restricts Dream Of Digital India

India ranks 89 globally in broadband internet speed; peak internet speed in India is slower than the average internet speed in South Korea

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In spite of having one of the largest numbers of internet users in the world, India's ambition to switch to digital is restricted by slow internet connection speed.

According to a recent report by telecom regulatory authority of India, Reliance Jio is the fastest 4G mobile service provider with an average download speed of 18.8 mega byte per second (mbps) in June.

Now, Reliance Jio’s internet speed considered high by Indian standards is nothing compared to the internet speeds enjoyed by the rest of the world which is evident from the fact that peak internet speed in India is slower than the average internet speed in South Korea, which has the fastest internet connection speed across the globe. South Korea has a well deserved reputation for the world’s fastest internet speed and delivers a broadband internet speed of over one giga byte per second.

It also needs to be noted that even the download speed on India’s fastest Jio network slightly dipped from 19.12 mbps recorded in May.

India was ranked 89 globally in broadband internet speeds with an average connection speed of 6.5 Mbps, according to the State of the Internet Q1 2017 Connectivity report by Akamai Technologies which is below the global average connection speed at 7.2 Mbps.

Not only developed nations but also the neighboring countries of India like Sri Lanka (8.5 mbps) offer better internet speed. The statistics underline the challenge that Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces in materializing his government's "Digital India" project, which aims to universalise mobile and internet access across the country.

Pranesh Prakash, Policy Director at the Centre for Internet and Society told BW Businessworld, “To improve internet speeds in the country, the government must work on few aspects. A low-hanging fruit is spectrum reform: there is an urgent need to increase amount of unlicensed and lightly-licensed spectrum in India, including shared spectrum. The National Telecom Policy 2012 provides for spectrum pooling and sharing, but the 2015 spectrum sharing guidelines need further liberalization. Secondly, reform of National Internet Exchange of India is an urgent need given the high cost of data transit in India. For instance, NIXI should stop requiring an ISP licence as a prerequisite for interconnection.”

“Municipalities in India should seek to promote a shared infrastructure ecosystem where multiple telecom operators share fiber optic cable on an open-access cost-sharing basis. This will promote competition, which will promote speeds. Lastly, the government should also revise the definition of broadband from 512 kbps. By comparison, in the United States 25 mbps is the minimum to qualify as "broadband", which is 50 times higher than the requirement in India,” he added.

According to the Open Signal report, India even ranks below Pakistan which recorded average data speeds of 11.71 Mbps. India must seek inspiration from Indonesia which has registered the fastest improvement in the internet infrastructure in the entire Asia Pacific region countries (according to Akamai report).

Indian government is making efforts to resolve the situation seeking a tie-up with Israel to introduce 5G in India and is also holding discussions with Google Fiber to introduce high-speed internet of download speeds of up to 10 Mbps at rock bottom prices in the country. Hopefully, if these efforts materialize, Indians will get rid of painfully slow internet speed.