India’s internet consumption up during Covid-19 lockdown, shows data

India’s internet consumption up during Covid-19 lockdown, shows data

India’s internet consumption has seen an increase during the COVID-19 lockdown, with people consuming an average of nearly 308,000 terabytes (TB) of data in the days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a “janata curfew” (on March 22) and a complete shutdown (that came into effect on March 25).

Data from the department of telecommunications showed that between March 22 and March 28, Indians consumed an average of 307,963 TB or 307 petabytes (PB) of data.

This was a hike of 9% from the 282,282 TB or 282 PB of data used on March 21, the day when the “Janata curfew” was announced, and a hike of 13% from March 19, when the consumption was 270 PB.

The consumption, the DoT figures show, peaked on two days – March 22 and March 27 – when an average of 312 PB of data was used. On March 26, 311 PB of data was consumed.

For an illustration of the measure of consumption, one PB equals 1,000 TB or 1 million GB.

Among states that showed a considerable hike in consumption was Andhra Pradesh, where people used 12% more data between March 22 and 28, with consumption rising from 19.6 PB in pre-lockdown days to 22 PB.

Bihar too saw a hike of 12% from 20 PB to 22.6 PB in the same period. Maharashtra continued to consume the maximum under lockdown (26.6 PB) and its consumption rose 7% from 24 B earlier between March 22 and 28.

Consumption has stabilized now, with an average figure of 300 PB in the week between April 5 and April 11, and 298 PB on April 14, the figures showed.

The government said the increase was within its capacity. “We have the capacity to handle a hike of 20% without any duress,” said a DoT official who didn’t want to be named.

The Indian digital industry released a statement on March 25 that said it had unanimously agreed companies would adopt some measures, including temporarily defaulting HD and ultra-HD streaming to SD or offering only SD content at bitrates no higher than 480p on cellular networks, to ensure the consumption doesn’t face any issues.

Facebook and Netflix too earlier announced reduced bit rates to “manage the unprecedented load on internet infrastructure”.

India’s consumption rates have seen a steady increase over the past few years. Nokia’s annual Mobile Broadband India Traffic Index (MBiT) report said there was a whopping 47% jump in overall data traffic in 2019 (in comparison with the previous year). This translates to 11 GB a month per user and is driven by 4G consumption.