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India has the slowest average Internet speeds in Asia Pacific, time TRAI redefines broadband speed as 2Mbps?

Amid noise of Digital India and efforts like NOFN, a new Akamai report reveals India is at the bottom in APAC when it comes to average Internet speeds. Akamai claims India has average of 2Mbps, which is too good to be real.

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India has the slowest average Internet speeds in Asia Pacific, the latest State of the Internet report by Akamai reveals. According to the report, for the third quarter of 2015, India had an average of 2.5 Mbps Internet speeds whereas South Korea has the highest speeds at 20.5 Mbps in the region. Globally, India ranks at the 116th position.

Besides South Korea, other top three countries in the list are Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore with 15.8 Mbps, 15.0 Mbps and 12.5 Mbps respectively. At the bottom are Vietnam (3.4 Mbps), Indonesia (3.0 Mbps)  and Philippines (2.8) along with India. India’s average speed grew by 5.3 percent quarter on quarter and 26 percent year on year, the report suggests. The report is based on Akamai’s Intelligent Platform that takes into account several metrics.

Even as 2.5Mbps may be the lowest in Asia Pacific, it is still way much more than 512Kbps, which is TRAI’s definition for what classifies as broadband. It was raised from 256 Kbps under the National Telecom Policy 2012. The regulator had planned to raise the speed up to 2Mbps by January 2015 but it hasn’t happened.

There’s a huge ongoing campaign in the form of Digital India and connecting the country with high speed Internet. Already, 4G adoption is increasing in the country, while 4G devices are selling like hotcakes. Clearly, consumers are now consuming more data, and now require better quality of service from telecom operators. For broadband as well, 512 Kbps is paltry and akin to the dial up era if you think of streaming music from Saavn or video on YouTube.

Can India ever become fully Digital when broadband is defined at 512 Kbps? Well, it is high time the regulator steps up its efforts to redefine the broadband to at least 2Mbps. Telecom operators and ISPs, however, may be unwilling to accept the change because onus will be on them to ensure better quality of services. Already telcos are struggling to deliver seamless 3G and 4G speeds to users.

It may be recalled that telecom giant Airtel in its letter to regulator had urged to reduce post FUP speeds to 64Kbps rather 512Kbps. “Beyond the assigned quota, it cannot be the prerogative of the customer to keep on accessing data at the defined broadband speed. Hence, a service provider should be free to throttle the speed to 64kbps after the expiry of assigned data limit to the customer,” the operator had said last month while responding to TRAI’s “Draft Direction on Delivering Broadband Services in a Transparent Manner.”

  • Published Date: March 1, 2016 7:11 PM IST