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Broadband snag, low speeds spook WFH, online classes

Connectivity blues
Last Updated : 08 June 2020, 21:04 IST
Last Updated : 08 June 2020, 21:04 IST
Last Updated : 08 June 2020, 21:04 IST
Last Updated : 08 June 2020, 21:04 IST

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Work From Home (WFH) has a serious broadband challenge in Bengaluru. Playing havoc with internet connectivity, multi-agency road-cutting projects are snapping underground Optic Fibre Cables (OFC)s on the streets across the city. The onset of the monsoon is all set to take these disruptions to a whole new level.

Acting tough on overhead OFC cables, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) had given an ultimatum to the internet service providers (ISPs) to shift underground or face a stiff penalty. The shift did take place along arterial and main roads in some areas. But several last-mile gaps remained.

The OFC shift to underground on the edge of the roads meant the cables had to share space with the utility pipes laid by the BBMP, Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) and Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom).

Throughout the lockdown, the civic agencies have been busy cutting roads for utility installation and maintenance. Poor coordination implied the contractors had no idea or plan to shift the conduits before earthmovers ripped them apart.

Service providers had opted to take the underground route to link servers. One of the relatively new ISPs has its servers placed 500m apart. But to link the 24 fibres emanating from each server to individual connections, it has taken the aerial route.

ISPs with a large underground footprint have been particularly hit hard by the road-cuttings. Preferring anonymity, the spokesperson of a leading ISP said the concerned civic agency does not communicate beforehand on a road to be cut. “We get to know of the issue only when the customer calls us. There is no coordination at all.”

Caught in this chaotic system are consumers, whose internet use has spiked manifold during the lockdown. The rising data demand for both WFH and online classes has meant any disruption in connectivity sparks big trouble. To make it worse, broadband speeds of most ISPs have dropped due to the unprecedented domestic consumption of data.

To streamline the entire process, the ISPs and the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) had met Deputy Chief Minister C N Ashwath Narayan last Thursday. A top COAI official told DH that the ISPs had requested the Palike to allow them to put the fibres overhead, and later shift to conduits (PVC pipes of 4-5 inch diameter) on the road’s edge.

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Published 08 June 2020, 18:54 IST

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