New Delhi | Piyush Aggarwal/Anurag Mishra: As we are changing our lifestyle and becoming accustomed to the new reality dawning on us, the internet's significance has become apparent. With more people now connected to the internet than ever before, be it for online education, working from home, entertainment, etc. it has become necessary for network providers to keep up with the increase in demand in terms of both quality and quantity.
When the nationwide lockdown began in late March to contain the spread of COVID-19, many migrant workers migrated to their hometowns, leading to the surge in the network load from the regions where the infrastructure may not have been sufficient to handle the increase in traffic.
OpenSignal, a mobile analytics company, analyzed the download speed experience of
smartphone users in India from late January until early July to understand their experience before and during the pandemic lockdown.


According to the study, users faced a negative impact on the download speeds during the first phase of the lockdown, with Tier-2 cities having to bear the brunt compared to the users based in Tier-1 cities. However, with the ease in lockdown restrictions, download speeds in Tier-1 cities improved significantly, OpenSignal has observed.
Before the lockdown, users experienced similar download speeds in most of the cities. However, after the nationwide lockdown in late March until the second week of April, a sharp decline was observed 
with users in Tier-1, Tier-2, Tier-3 cities experienced a drop of 16%, 23%, and 25%, respectively, on average.
Cities like Solapur, Ludhiana, Nashik, Surat, and Ahmedabad, which fall in the Tier-2 category, observed massive declines up to 35% in download speeds compared to pre-lockdown levels.
As a precautionary measure, operators may have reduced the download speeds for users to prevent the network outage from a sudden increase in demand during the lockdown. It could be one of the reasons for the decline in download speeds. Moreover, change in users' behavior operating from home and remaining connected throughout the day even during non-peak hours, could have also affected the download speeds.
Tier-1 cities like Bangalore and Chennai did not experience a significant impact on the download speeds. However, Pune witnessed a dip of 6.9% — 12.5%, which was also limited to the first phase of lockdown. In comparison, download speeds returned to normal levels in the second phase for the remaining cities in Tier-1. It is only at the end of the fourth phase (May 18 – 31) that the lockdown download speeds started coming to pre-lockdown levels in most cities.
During the last week of analysis, some of the largest Tier-1 cities experienced higher speeds with Delhi showing the highest improvement of 38.1%, followed by Mumbai (33.5%), Hyderabad (33.1%), Ghaziabad (32.4%), and Chennai (30.4%). Since many people moved back to their native place from the Tier-1 cities, which led to the underutilization of the vast network infrastructure in place, the speeds in those cities showed significant improvement.

Posted By: Abhinav Gupta