COVID-19: A wake-up call for Indian Internet Service Providers

April 20, 2020 · news

 

Online Learning: What about Internet Infrastructure?


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The education sector is amongst the many which has taken a strong blow due to the COVID-19 situation. No more are the stakeholders involved in higher education able to function conventionally and the prospect of operating back to the status quo seems quite uncertain. In such a time, the only recourse that universities and institutions across the globe are resorting to is that of functioning online. The COVID-19 crisis has resulted in a paradigm shift in consumer behaviour to embrace online methods rather than F2F in education sector.

As the players involved in the education sector including the universities, teachers and students operate more online, the following question needs further investigation. Whether Indian Internet Infrastructure is ready for this paradigm shift? The student survey was designed to investigate, examine and explore where are we positioned in terms of Internet infrastructure for shifting education online.

 

SUMMARY OF RESPONDENTS

The QS I·GAUGE Further Academic Interest Report (FAIR) 2020 Survey has revealed some important data that can prove to be decisive in studying whether India is ready to embrace the concept of online learning in its entirety. Speaking of some preliminary data from the survey, a total of 7594 students from across the country
except for the region of Andaman and Nicobar had responded to the survey. Among the respondents were, 62.16% male, 37.82% female and 0.02% transgender.

PROFILE OF RESPONDENTS

The respondents were quite heterogeneous in terms of their age group wherein 74.33% belonged to the age group of 18-22 years, 18.32% to 22-27 years, 4.91% to 16-18 years and 2.43% were above the age of 27 years.

This diversity was also witnessed in terms of their Program of Study wherein 81.03% of the respondents were Undergraduates, 18.36% were Postgraduates and 0.61% belonged to other programs.

CONNECTIVITY

The more substantive side of the survey reveals data that can help identify the extent to which India as a country is presently ready in terms of infrastructure to run online learning in an efficient manner. In order to substantiate the same, data was recorded with respect to the accessibility of the Internet and its quality amongst students across the country. It was found that in order to use the Internet at home, 72.60% of the respondents used a mobile hotspot (i.e. connecting a Wi-Fi enabled electronic device to the phone’s Internet where the phone’s data is used as a wireless Internet service), 15.87% used home broadband (a high-speed communications system that links computers to the Internet using a cable, DSL or satellite modem hooked up to an Internet service provider), 9.68% used WiFi dongle (a pocket-size device that connects to your smartphone, tablet or laptop and allowsyou to access the Internet) and 1.85% had poor to no Internet connectivity. Also, about 22% of the respondents used multiple connections.

Further data concerning the Internet Service Provider shows that 38.12% of respondents used Jio, 28.25% used Airtel, 14.82% used Vodafone, 10.59% used BSNL, 3.24% used ACT, 3.16% used Idea, 1.29% used Hathway, 0.53 % used BBNL and 4.64% used other service providers.

The final segment concerned issues with respect to connectivity which essentially forms the crux of this analysis. The data reveals that amongst the respondents who used home broadband, 3.02% faced cable cuts, 53.42% faced poor connectivity, 11.47% faced Power issues and 32.09% faced signal issues. When it came to mobile hotspot, 40.18% faced poor connectivity, 3.19% faced power issues and 56.63% faced signal issues.

With respect to respondents who experienced scarce access to Internet connectivity and used no one particular source, 53.49% faced poor connectivity, and 46.51% faced signal issues. Amongst the ones who used WiFi dongle, 43.30% faced poor connectivity, 9.23% faced power issues and 47.47% faced signal issues. From this data, it is clearly seen that majority of the connectivity issues take place in the form of either poor connectivity or signal issues. This brings our focus in examining the performance of service providers individually.

JIO
When it came to Jio, 59.61% of the respondents faced signal issues and 40.39% faced poor connectivity.

AIRTEL
With Airtel Internet services, 57.43% of the respondents faced signal issues, and 42.57% faced poor connectivity.

VODAFONE
With Vodafone Internet services, 56.64% of the respondents faced signal issues and 43.36% faced poor connectivity.

BSNL
With BSNL Internet services, 49.01% of the respondents faced signal issues and 50.99% faced poor connectivity.

Idea
When it came to Idea, 60.69% of the respondents faced signal issues and 39.31% faced poor connectivity.
When it came to Jio, 59.61% of the respondents faced signal issues and 40.39% faced poor connectivity.

AIRTEL
With Airtel Internet services, 57.43% of the respondents faced signal issues, and 42.57% faced poor connectivity.

ACT
ACT’s performance was such that 71.11% of the respondents faced power issues and 28.89% faced cable cuts.

HATHWAY
With Hathway Internet services, 85.71% faced power issues and 14.29% faced cable cuts. BBNL With BBNL Internet services, 92.86% of the respondents faced power issues and 7.14% faced cable cuts.

Lastly, amongst the respondents who used other service providers, 78.79% of the respondents faced power issues and 21.21% faced cable cuts. The trend again highlights poor connectivity and signal issues as the most prevailing problems concerning connectivity with another relatively growing factor which is that of power issues. Studies and reports regarding the consumption of power by the State authorities reveal that the States are not using power entirely due to COVID-19 situation thereby leaving a surplus supply for private entities and general public. Despite this, the data shows power issues to be a major cause of connectivity problems for as many as 92.86% of the respondents particularly who use connections like BBNL, Hathway and ACT

 

REPORT CONCLUSON

Conclusion
tt would be safe to conclude that the infrastructure in terms of technology in India has not achieved a state of quality so as to ensure sound delivery of online classes to students across the country. It is seen that both the State and the private players have not yet managed to overcome technical challenges, for instance, in providing adequate power supply and ensuring effective connectivity as the data reveals. Although, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the world had witnessed a massive shift from the traditional F2F to online platform as a mode of delivery of classes. Due to lack of proper infrastructure, a shift to a total relianceon the online platform for the delivery of lectures seems to be a distant dream. The online learning business is growing rapidly. A detailed study of this has been conducted in a report titled ''E-Versity in times of Adversity''. A copy of this report
can be downloaded from: https://bit.ly/qsreportdw


As per this study, a large number of institutions are in the process of moving teaching & learning programs to digital mode. We are undergoing a massive digital transformation journey. Hence, it is the need of the hour for technology enablers and telecom companies to scale up their services.


OUR GRATITUDE
Our sincere thanks and appreciation to the 7594 students that participated in this survey. Also our special thanks to various institutions pan India that circulated our call for the survey. All responses are not identifiable, and only used in aggregate form. In case of any queries, please contact us: contact@igauge.in

 

NOTABLE STUDENT PAIN POINTS

  • As some students do not have better Internet connection, they are not able to attend online classes.
  • The government to increase the speed of Internet.. In this century, we have everything available at the click of a mouse. If the Internet speed is good we can learn at home through online classes.
  • As much as the technological achievements of the 21st century has managed to conduct online classes from the safety of our living rooms, there is still a huge gap between existence and implementation. Not everyone can afford or can access Internet services.
  • We are blessed that many educational institutions are providing online classes but they are not aware that everyone does not have Internet facilities at home and even if they had, there will be no signal. Students lose attendance because of Internet issues.
  • Almost everyone today is well versed with the use of Internet and I feel online classes and online mode of assessment will be the best possible alternative for now.
  • Only problem faced by both the parties i.e. students and educational institution faculties is Internet.. If high speed Internet connection is provided with consistent connectivity, there'll be no problem.
  • Students are facing Internet connection issues; when I am watching a presentation video, it starts buffering because of Internet connection issue which is very annoying.
  • Each and every educational institute is working hard to provide online classes but there are major issues faced by students as well as tutors, Internet connectivity being the major issue.
  • The main concern as of now is safety. To make the public stay at home, govt can give free or low cost Internet which BSNL is already providing. The govt and TRAI need to pressurise the other telecom providers to do so.
  • Online classes is a good initiative but institution should understand that some people don't have Internet connection or have poor connectivity.
  • Most mobile service provider would give 2 GB at max per day which would not be enough if you want to watch few videos for 2 hrs and do all the coding in our laptops by connecting your phone’s hotspot . And the signals are not that great in most of the houses.
  • The idea of online classes is fine, but there are so many factors effecting it. Firstly, the Internet connectivity. As I use mobile hotspot, it is quite slow and always the lecturer's voice is not quite clear.

 

(c) 2020