Work-from-home woes | Many techies wander in search of better connectivity

Ashik Aiyanna, a techie, working from home at Kagodlu in Madikeri taluk in Kodagu district. Photo: Special Arrangement  

Hundreds of techies who returned to their native places following the pandemic are working from home amidst repeated call drops, sudden dip in upload speed and patchy network.

While some roam around their homes holding laptops high up in search of better net connectivity, many are forced to shift to nearby cities to access high-speed broadband.

Following the increase in COVID-19 cases in Bengaluru, many employees returned to their native places as companies declared work-from-home. Those in cities can get broadband services offered by BSNL and private players. However, those in rural areas are dependent on cellular services. The towers installed by service providers remain mute due to disruption in the power supply. The battery backup is insufficient to fulfil the need.

“We have to constantly walk around the place to get hassle-free connectivity. Whenever we are on calls with clients or seniors in the office, calls drop. With hardly 1mbps- or 2mbps speed, we cannot work and send files. The repeated disturbances have hampered our work,” said Shashank Subbaiah, who works for a financial holding company, from Kagodlu, his native place, about 10 kilometres from Madikeri in Kodagu district. He complained to Deputy Commissioner and other officers, but services did not improve. Now, during his working hours, he reaches a homestay about five kilometres from his place and works there accessing a broadband internet facility.

Trouble with police

“Because of the lockdown restrictions, the travelling to my new workplace has also become difficult. I have to convince policemen on the way,” he said. His cousin Ashik Aiyanna also works from home in the village. She sits outside her house with her laptop, as there is zero connectivity inside. A few employees, native of villages in Hassan taluk, are staying in Hassan, as paying guests just for internet connectivity.

J. Shankar, who works from a farmhouse in Sagar taluk of Shivamogga also faces a similar problem. He goes to Sagar whenever he faces network issues. “Nowadays, the net facility is essential for online classes and many surveys conducted by the government. Even to get the vaccine for COVID-19 one needs a net facility. If the government does not improve power supply and ensure proper net facility, it would be difficult to deliver many services to the needy,” he argued.

Woes of service providers

The service providers are facing the heat with the increase in demand for quality net services. The BSNL has added 1,400 new broadband connections in Hassan town since the lockdown last year. Many private service providers are also competing with the BSNL. However, none of them has improved services in rural areas.

C. Nagesha, Deputy General Manager of BSNL in Hassan, told The Hindu that the BSNL was looking for franchisees in rural areas, who could invest in optical line terminals (OLTs) and provide services. “We have six franchisers in Hassan town. But there is poor response to take up the franchisee in rural areas. They are also worried to take ups because if the customers, who require broadband to work from home, terminate their subscription soon after the end of the lockdown and return to big cities, they would lose revenue,” the officer said.

As a result, the customers in rural areas have to depend on cellular network. The private operators have a strong network with sufficient number of towers in urban localities, but not in rural areas. The BSNL with better network infrastructure facilities faces difficulty to provide good service because of problems with power supply. “Rural areas do not get power supply for many hours in a day. Our batteries in the towers can provide backup only for a few hours,” the officer said.

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Printable version | Jun 18, 2021 12:13:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/work-from-home-woes-many-techies-wander-in-search-of-better-connectivity/article34563894.ece

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