COVID-19: Indian Internet infra not prepared for shift to online teaching-learning, says QS report

NEW DELHI: The Indian Internet infrastructure is not ready for the paradigm shift to online learning mandated by the situation arising due to COVID-19, according to a report by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), which comes out with coveted global ranking for educational institutions.

The report titled “COVID-19: A wake up call for telecom service providers” is based on a survey conducted by QS I Guage, which rates colleges and universities in India with complete operational control held by London-based QS.

The report pointed out connectivity and signal issues as the most prevailing problems faced by students while attending online classes.

“The survey pointed out that the infrastructure in terms of technology in India has not achieved a state of quality so as to ensure sound delivery of online classes to students across the country. It is seen that both the state and the private players have not yet managed to overcome technical challenges, for instance, in providing adequate power supply and ensuring effective connectivity as the data reveals,” the report said.

“Although, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the world had witnessed a massive shift from the traditional Face to Face (F2F) to online platform as a mode of delivery of classes. Due to lack of proper infrastructure, a shift to a total reliance on the online platform for the delivery of lectures seems to be a distant dream,” it added.

According to the report, the survey with over 7600 respondents found that in order to use internet at home, 72.60 percent of the respondents use mobile hotspot, 15 pc use home broadband, 9.68 pc use WiFi dongle and 1.85 pc have poor to no internet connectivity.

“The data revealed that amongst the respondents who used home broadband, over 3 pc faced cable cuts, 53 pc faced poor connectivity, 11.47 pc faced power issues and 32 pc faced signal issues. When it came to mobile hotspot, 40.18 pc faced poor connectivity, 3.19 pc faced power issues and 56.63 pc faced signal issues.

“Studies and reports regarding the consumption of power by the state authorities reveal that the states are not using power entirely due to COVID-19 situation thereby leaving a surplus supply for private entities and general public,” it said.

Schools and colleges were closed in the country ahead of nationwide lockdown announced on March 24 to contain the spread of coronavirus. The lockdown has now been extended till May 3.

“The education sector is amongst the many which has taken a strong blow due to the COVID-19 situation. No more are the stakeholders involved in higher education able to function conventionally and the prospect of operating back to the status quo seems quite uncertain. In such a time, the only recourse that universities and institutions across the globe are resorting to is that of functioning online,” the report said.

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