Kashmir marks year of low-speed internet

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As high-speed mobile internet services remain suspended in most parts of Jammu and Kashmir, the availability of low-speed service completed a year today and marks months of widespread disruptions in educational sectors and a negative impact on the local economy.

The ban on the high-speed mobile internet services, which is in place since August 2019, has severely disrupted daily life sectors with the restrictions being proven insufficient in smooth function of various sectors.

The low-speed internet has meant frequent buffering and snapdowns for students in J-K as the COVID-19 lockdown forced closure of schools and students were switched to online classrooms.

An association of private schools this week approached the apex court seeking restoration of the high-speed 4G internet and claimed that “many students have been forced to leave their families” due to internet restrictions. 

The association said the students of J-K were “on an unequal field” in the competition with students of other states. 

The local economy has also been deeply impacted by the ban on the high-speed internet while some online businesses have switched to high-speed wired connections to circumvent the ban.

The average speed for a mobile internet user in J-K is the lowest in the country at 0.8 megabits per second, as per the data a journalist compiled from Ookla, a leading internet speed testing website. The list was led by Telangana with 16.1 megabits per second and J-K figured at the bottom.

In response to J-K figuring at the bottom of the internet speed list, Omar Abdullah, a former chief minister of J-K, sarcastically commented it would make “a great advertising slogan”.

“I almost didn’t see J-K because the average mobile Internet speed is so slow it barely makes a mark. Makes for a great advertising slogan – ‘come invest in J&K, we have the slowest internet in the country,” Omar wrote on Twitter.

The high-speed internet has remained shut in J-K since 5 August 2019 when New Delhi clamped curfews and imposed a communication blackout as it revoked the region’s decades-old limited-autonomy. The access to high-speed internet was restored, a year later, in two districts but the other eighteen districts continue to face the ban.

Following the communication blackout that was gradually eased, the low-speed internet access was restored on 25 January, with a set of restrictions. 

The administration continued with the low-speed internet despite appeals by the doctors that it was hampering the work in the immediate aftermath of the COVID 19 lockdown.

The administration has cited various reasons for continuing the ban on the high-speed internet as it reviews the shutdown on a near-fortnight basis.

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