66% Fibre and DSL Broadband Users Battling Disruption and Lower Speed: Survey
Moneylife Digital Team 14 February 2022
As many as 66% of the broadband, fibre and DSL (digital subscriber line) users in India struggle with either connection disruption issues or lower speed received than promised or paying for, shows a survey conducted by LocalCircles.
“At the same time, while 56% of broadband, fibre and DSL users say they have three or more issues every month with their connection, as many as 74% of them are willing to switch to an alternate provider for better quality, service or price. Even though many consumers are not getting the speed they are promised, internet service providers continue to charge consumers the same or increased tariff,” LocalCircles says.
According to LocalCircles, the internet service providers (ISPs) must find a way to speed up consumer grievance redressal as most consumers are unhappy, which is evident with 53% of users saying it takes service-providers more than 24 hours, 16% saying it takes them more than four days and 7% saying it is never resolved. 
Last Friday, as children in many parts of India were giving their final exams online, as video conferences, zoom meetings and TV interviews were ongoing while some were processing online payments, all of a sudden, the internet connection snapped. A few minutes later, #Airteldown started trending on social media in what was a national outage of broadband and fibre services run by Airtel. 
In these several minutes of downtime, many activities got disrupted, which made many realise how their dependence on the internet has increased manifold, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic for attending video conferences, work from home activities, and online school classes, to name a few. 
LocalCircles surveyed to understand from users the on-ground situation they have been experiencing using the internet service from various broadband, fibre and DSL providers. The survey received over 33,000 responses from more than 319 districts. About 64% of participants were men while 36% were women, 48% of respondents were from tier-1 districts, 30% from tier-2 and 22% from tier-3, tier-4 and rural districts.
When users of fibre, broadband and DSL were asked their top issues regarding their internet connection, 33% said they face ‘frequent disruptions’ and another 33% said ‘speed received is much lower than what we are paying for’. 
About 7% said they have ‘other issues’. Further, 2% feel that their router is being used by someone else as random websites open up when trying to access the internet. Only 21% of broadband, fibre and DSL users said they ‘do not face any issues’, while 4% did not have an opinion. 
The survey findings also indicate that 66% of broadband, fibre and DSL users struggle with either connection disruption issues or lower speed received than promised or paying for, LocalCircles says.
Further, these users also point out delays in resolving their complaints in time by the services-providers. Over 53% of broadband, fibre and DSL users say when they raise a complaint, it takes service-providers more than 24 hours to resolve. Most significant are the 7% who say these complaints are never resolved and the 16% who say it took over four days for their complaints to be resolved. 
No wonder, a majority of the users are willing to switch to another service-provider. LocalCircles says, on an aggregate basis, 74% of broadband, fibre and DSL users say they are willing to switch to an alternate provider for better quality, service or price. 
When asked what will make the users switch service-provider, “About 35% said ‘better connection quality and uptime’, 19% said ‘lower monthly price for similar speed or quota connection’, 16% said ‘higher speed or quota for similar monthly price’, while 4% cited other reasons. Only 22% said they are ‘happy with the provider and will not switch’, while 4% did not have an opinion.”
Fuelled by an increase in the use of technology in people’s day-to-day lives, such as smartphones and laptops, the number of broadband connection users in India has now increased to nearly 25mn (million).  
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), in its recommendations on the “Roadmap to Promote Broadband Connectivity and Enhanced Broadband speed,” has said that the minimum download speed for fixed broadband connectivity has been revised upward from the present 512kbps to 2mbps, and categorised the internet speed into basic, fast and super-fast. 
To enhance mobile broadband speed in rural and remote areas by providing fiberisation to cellular networks, backhaul connectivity on optical fibre using the BharatNet network with service level agreements (SLA) have been said to be made available to service-providers. Further, to incentivise investment in the last-mile linkage for fixed-line broadband, TRAI recommended notifying a skill development plan and an interest subvention scheme for cable operators registered as micro and small enterprises.
LocalCircles says, “With three waves of the pandemic already impacting India in the last two years, it is clear that work from home, online events, online classes, along with shopping and online entertainment are here to stay. The key action from the government and ISPs is to make their services more reliable and minimise disruptions. When they happen, proactively communicate to consumers and resolve issues as soon as possible. Do not leave your customers wondering about the outages when they happen.”
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