Internet slows as Kathmandu residents grounded by the lockdown turn to the web en masseThe number of video content engagements including YouTube, Facebook video and TikTok has surged, said service providers.
Kathmandu residents performing their jobs remotely or sitting out the lockdown by watching movies on YouTube have been complaining about slow internet speeds, said Bhoj Raj Bhatta, president of the Internet Service Providers’ Association Nepal.
Internet utilisation has increased by 30-40 percent with the entire population grounded, and the increased network traffic means slower connections, he said.
The internet is the first thing that people turn to when they have to stay home. It has been 10 days since the lockdown began, and the web has been their only solace, said internet service providers. And a slow internet can be frustrating for people working from home on their laptops or enjoying streaming video.
Bhatta said that internet service providers and telecommunication service providers have a total capacity of 400 gigabytes daily, and they share 70 and 30 percent of the capacity respectively. Internet companies have started providing service by adding international bandwidth capacity, he said.
“Internet utilisation after the lockdown has reached 500 gigabytes, an increase of 30-40 percent,” he said. There are chances of a surge in consumption leading to additional international bandwidth to increase the capacity.
Internet service providers who were managing the network load by dividing it during peak hours and working hours are finding it hard to handle it at this time as the internet is being utilised 24 hours, with greater usage during the daytime, said Bhatta.
The number of video content engagements including YouTube, Facebook video and TikTok has surged, said internet firms. The number of online movie streaming sites like Netflix has also swelled.
Bhatta said that it would be good to use the internet for sending and receiving information instead of utilising it unnecessarily which increases the network load.
The association said that internet service providers alone could not provide a 25 percent discount to their customers during the lockdown. They have been providing unlimited services, and added bandwidth to deal with the increased load which has bloated their costs, it said.
“As we have to pay 25 percent to the government under different headings, we alone are not able to provide discounts without any support from the state,” Bhatta said.
Telecommunication service providers said that mobile data use had also surged by 30-40 percent.
Dilli Ram Adhikari, managing director of Nepal Telecom, said that mobile data users have increased by 30-40 percent, and fixed broadband by 40 percent with an increase in international bandwidth utilisation. Daily bandwidth capacity utilisation has increased to 75 percent from 70 percent of the total.
“YouTube is the most visited site followed by Facebook and TikTok during the lockdown,” he said. Voice calls have declined compared to before lockdown, he added. People are staying home with their families and business has come to a halt, so few people are making voice calls.
Adhikari said that data users were using data almost all the time, with traffic spiking during the mid-afternoon and evening to late evening.
The extended lockdown is going to result in a rise in data consumption for which Nepal Telecom has increased bandwidth utilisation and is working on network optimisation.
Private telecom service provider Ncell's network utilisation has jumped by over 40 percent. “Daily average data consumption has seen an increase of 34 percent in the last few days, and we have adequately prepared for that,” said the company.
Anticipating an increase in demand for international bandwidth, the company has contingency plans to make communication services accessible.