TRAI mandates a minimum internet speed of 512kbps for ISP’s

NewDelhi,Nov3:TRAI released a directive which mandates all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to ensure that customers get a minimum download speed of 512Kbps, even after the fair usage policy (FUP) limit is up. Mind you, this is not an update to the minimum broadband speed, which is still 512Kbps, according to a July 2013 order.

Yes. I too did a double take when I read ‘kilobits per second’ and ‘minimum download speed’ in the same line. In 2016. The directive to ensure ISPs and TSPs inform users via SMS or email, when their data limit reaches 50, 90 and 100 percent, is laudable. But having an unlimited plan with an unreliable 512kbps speed hardly serves any purpose. The talks of raising the minimum broadband speed to 2 Mbps has still not gone anywhere.

For a country with the second largest number of Internet users, internet speeds are still being measured in kilobits per second in 2016.

This means, that my ‘Unlimited’ 2Mbps plan will switch to 512Kbps after I have exhausted 16GB data within a month. Despite Trai’s paper on transparency surrounding FUP limits, a lot of ISPs still continue to offer ‘Unlimited Plans’, for which the conditions are hidden somewhere in the fine print. I wonder if the current directive will remove the asterisk beside the ‘Unlimited Plans’ and show things more up front?

A common misconception a lot of us have about FUP limits is that it pertains only to downloads. So anything you do online which uses data adds up to your bandwidth. Uploading that presentation, backing up stuff on your cloud drive, sending that GIF to multiple groups on WhatsApp, conducting a VoIP call and so on, anything that uses your internet connection to pass data is reducing your available data limit.

Service availability and Uptime woes

Apart from FUP, another area of concern is the quality of service (QoS). If I had a rupee for every time I had to call my ISP during the monsoon months, I’d be a rich fellow by now. According to Trai regulations, the service availability and uptime for all users should be 98 percent and up. We all know what’s the reality on that front.

Another area that is of concern is a reliable, true to speed, internet connection. ISPs rarely if ever, unless you are a corporate entity or are paying good money for more expensive plans, give a dedicated internet connection. So your speed of 10Mbps is technically up to 10Mbps. If you think I am kidding? Run a Speedtest on your home internet connections at different times of the day, you will not get the same numbers. Some amount of leeway on delivered bandwidth is understandable, but I don’t think a 90 percent variation in speeds is acceptable.