One major impact of the national lockdown has been a sharp increase in the traffic online leading to more congestion and poorer quality connection and slower speed.
Despite the poor internet connection in the country during the lockdown, the two service providers in the country are trying to address the issue by implementing extension activities.
According to Tashi cell’s general manager Namgay Wangchuk, in terms of mobile data traffic it has increased by 25 to 30 percent during the pandemic.
He said that recently during the lockdown they have conducted a survey and did extensions where they could.
“In fact for Thimphu we have increased almost 50 to 60 percent capacity, however it is still not enough and that’s the biggest issue we are facing since everybody is home and surfing internet. We also have plans for other dzongkhags however we have movement restriction and we are not able to send our people and materials out of Thimphu,” he said.
Additionally, Tashi Cell has increased capacity in core networks because the usage is high. “Generally during peak hour we see high traffic and even during lockdown it is remaining the same so a lot of people may be experiencing congestion,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bhutan Telecom Limited’s Chief Executive Officer said, “During the lockdown, mobile data traffic has increased as people are staying connected through the internet and phone lines and work from home has been made compulsory for most private and government employees to prevent spread of coronavirus.”
BTL is trying to address the congestion issues through extension activities which are also very difficult to implement given that they cannot move around.
Karma Deki, 24 residing at Zilukha said that having been separated from the majority of her friends and family members due to social distancing measures and so they now have to rely on platforms such as WeChat and Facebook to keep in touch with loved ones, however the poor internet connection has become an issue.
“Activities such as video chats and continuous scrolling through newsfeeds on social media have resulted in an increase in the amount of time many people are spending on their phones and has led to poor internet speed,” she opined.
Tshering, 32 a resident of Dechencholing also shared that given the fact that during these uncertain times, many people are using their devices to communicate with others to stay well-informed on news and to seek out distractions have resulted in slow connections of the networks.
“Of course this means that many are now using their internet much more than usual but we are experiencing the worse internet performance than we did prior to the lockdown,” he said.
He added that while many might be able to cope in the short term, it could start to affect productivity if working from home becomes the ‘new normal’.
Sangay, 51 of Babesa said, “Working from home becomes unproductive when the internet connection is poor. Often, I’ll have to disable video and rely on audio only to save bandwidth. Or even forget about the calls and try to use messaging instead, which just isn’t the same. Downloading large payloads, which I have to do often, is a challenge.”
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