Bengaluru: With an unprecedented work from home experiment setting in across Indian cities as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, companies, employees and internet service providers are navigating how to deal with bandwidth issues, surge in demand, connectivity, speed and charges.
A March note by global research firm Gartner, Inc. said that 54% of human resources (HR) leaders in its snap poll indicated that poor technology and/or infrastructure for remote working is the biggest barrier to effective remote working.
“We have not provided broadband access, as all our employees either have broadband or have 4G phones which can be used to create a wifi hotspot," said Upasana Taku, COO and Co-founder, MobiKwik, a digital payments service provider.
Like many other start-ups, Mobikwik has opted for a work from home policy across all its offices.
An employee working in a Bengaluru-based multi-national company said that his organization has not announced any reimbursements for internet usage outside the office. Two employees working with IT firms in Chennai and Bengaluru said that their companies haven't notified any reimbursement plans.
While most tech startups said that they have already started reimbursing employees for Internet usage, especially as many employees working from home have reported exhausting their Fair Usage Policy (FUP) limits.
Almost all internet service providers (ISPs) in India on broadband and cellular place a FUP limit on their connections, wherein Internet speeds drop drastically a user's data usage limit exceeds.
"The team hasn't faced broadband outages yet - but video calls do consume a good amount of bandwidth depending on the duration of the calls or demos. NFN Labs will be taking care of all internet charges during this remote work phase to make sure that limited internet doesn't become a hindrance to work at all. We believe that's the right way to go for all organisations," said Sonaal Bangera, co-founder NFN Labs said in an emailed response.
Internet service provider ACT Fibernet has started upgrading speed of its broadband subscribers to as high as 300Mbps and providing them with an unlimited fair usage policy (FUP) until March-end. The Bengaluru-based firm is offering the benefits that can be opted directly through the ACT Fibernet app.
Karnataka's IT/BT ministry said that it will look into the complaints of internet slowdown in Bengaluru. The office of the ministry said that it will also hold talks with service providers if the situation persists.
“We’re being forced into the world’s largest work-from-home experiment and, so far, it hasn’t been easy for a lot of organizations to implement," says Saikat Chatterjee, Senior Director, Advisory at Gartner in the note. “In a recent webinar snap poll, 91% of attending HR leaders (all in Asia/Pacific) indicated that they have implemented ‘work from home’ arrangements since the outbreak, but the biggest challenge stems from the lack of technology infrastructure and lack of comfort with new ways of working."