2 in 3 broadband, fibre and DSL users in India struggle with connection disruption issues and lower speed than what they are charged for
- ● 56% broadband, fibre and DSL users say they have 3 or more issues every month with their connection
- ● 53% internet connection users say it takes more than 24 hours for service providers to resolve issues
- ● 74% broadband, fibre and DSL users say they are willing to switch to an alternate provider for better quality, service or price
February 14, 2022, New Delhi: 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 stopped. A few minutes later, #Airteldown started trending on social media in what was a national outage of broadband and fiber 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, for work from home activities, for online school classes, just to name a few. Fueled by an increase in the use of technology in people’s day-to-day life, such as smartphones and laptops, the number of broadband connection users in the country has now increased to nearly 25 million.
According to the Speedtest 2021 Global Index, published by Ookla, India ranks 122 on internet speed. That brings into focus the quality of service provided by internet service providers. LocalCircles has been witnessing an increase in posts and comments from citizens complaining that their broadband, fibre and DSL providers are not providing the value as per the internet service opted by them. Many say that their connection fluctuates or is slow, intermittent most of the time and despite complaining to the service provider after rounds of cumbersome process to connect with the customer care representative, their issues do not get resolved.
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 512 Kbps 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 fiber 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 to notify a skill development plan and an interest subvention scheme for cable operators registered as micro and small size enterprises.
LocalCircles has conducted a survey to understand from users the on-ground situation they have been experiencing using the internet service from various broadband, fire and DSL providers. The survey sought to understand if users of fixed broadband are facing any issues regarding their internet connection, along with the time taken by their internet service providers to resolve the issue. The objective of the survey is also to understand if users of broadband, fibre and DSL are getting the value on their payment in regards to the internet service they are getting from these providers. The survey received over 33,000 responses from more than 319 districts of the country. 64% of participants were men while 36% were women. 48% of respondents were from tier 1 districts, 30% from tier 2 and 22% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts.
56% broadband, fibre and DSL users say they have 3 or more issues every month with their connection
The first question in the survey sought to understand how often users face an issue with their broadband, fibre and DSL connection in a month. In response, 25% said they face issues “Once or twice”, 21% said “5-10 times”, 19% said “3-5 times”, and 16% said “more than 10 times” a month. On an aggregate basis, 56% of broadband, fibre and DSL users surveyed have 3 or more issues every month regarding their connection. Only 19% of the DSL, broadband, fibre users said they “do not face any issues”. This question in the survey received 8,430 responses.
66% broadband, fibre and DSL users struggle with either connection disruption issues or lower speed received than promised/paying for
Even though many consumers are not getting the speed they are promised, internet service providers continue to charge consumers the same or increased tariff. When users of fibre/broadband/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”. Breaking down the poll, 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 findings of the survey indicate that 66% of broadband, fibre and DSL users struggle with either connection disruption issues or lower speed received than promised/paying for. This question in the survey received 8,430 responses.
53% broadband, fibre and DSL users say when they raise a complaint, it takes service providers more than 24 hours to resolve
The next question focused on grievance redressal and customer service experience by users. It asked internet connection users of fibre, broadband, and DSL connection that when they raised a complaint with the service provider, how long did it typically take for them to resolve it. In response, 38% of users said it was resolved “Within 24 hours”. 30% said it takes “1-3 days”, and 5% said “4-7 days”, 11% said more “7+ days”. 7% of citizens said that their issues were “Never resolved”. Only 8% of users said they “Haven’t had any complaints in the last 1 year”, while 1% did not have an opinion. On an aggregate basis, 53% of broadband, fibre, and DSL users say when they raise a complaint, it takes service providers more than 24 hours to resolve. Most concerning are the 7% who say these complaints are never resolved as well as the 16% who say it took over 4 days for their complaints to be resolved. This question in the survey received 7,885 responses.
74% broadband, fibre and DSL users say they are willing to switch to an alternate provider for better quality, service or price
Taking cognisance of issues faced by users, the following question in the survey asked, “What is it that will make you switch from your broadband/fibre/DSL service provider to an alternate service provider?” In response, 35% said “Better connection quality and uptime”, 19% said “Lower monthly price for similar speed/quota connection”, 16% said “Higher speed/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. 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. This question in the survey received 8,454 responses.
In summary, 66% of broadband, fibre and DSL users in India struggle with connection disruption issues and lower speed than what they are charged for. 56% of users have 3 or more issues every month with their connection and 74% of users are willing to switch to an alternate provider for better quality, service or price. The internet service providers must find a way to speed consumer grievance redressal as most consumers are unhappy. This is evident with 53% of users saying it takes service providers more than 24 hours, and 16% saying it takes them more than 4 days and 7% saying it is never resolved.
With 3 waves of the pandemic already impacting India in the last 2 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 Internet Service Providers that is needed is to make their services more reliable and minimise disruptions and when they happen, proactively communicate to consumers and resolve issues as soon as possible. Don’t leave your customers wondering about the outages when they happen.
The survey received over 33,000+ responses from more than 319 districts of the country. 64% of the participants were men while 36% were women. 48% of respondents were from tier 1 districts, 30% from tier 2 and 22% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts. The survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants are validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.