Chhimi Dema  

Online engagement for work and entertainment have caused frequent internet network congestion.

TashiCell’s data traffic increased by about 25-30 percent and Bhutan Telecom Limited’s increased by 5-10 percent during the second lockdown.

Dechen Wangmo, a corporate employee in Thimphu, said that while video conferencing she experienced glitches. “The network issues hamper communication and halt the progress of the work,” Dechen Wangmo said.

Another netizen said that even downloading short videos took a long time. Some frustrated users vented their frustrations on the social media calling for faster internet.

TashiCell’s General Manager Namgay Wangchuk said that such issues were due to the lack of speed because large numbers of subscribers were using the service at the same time mainly during the peak hours between 6pm to 11pm.

Namgay Wangchuk said that from the total international bandwidth the speed allocation for various internet services was based on their requirements and without speed limit. “The speed for the Internet Lease Line users depends on the Mbps subscribed. And, the speed for mobile users depends on the number of users on the mobile network, time of day, distance from site and base station resource availability.”

The increase in the congestion was predominantly from customers subscribing to high volume plans or unlimited data plans, Namgay Wangchuk said.

He said: “During the lockdown, there was a further increase in the number of users using data for video calls using over-the-top (OTT) applications which adds to the network congestion and degradation in the internet speed.”

An OTT application streams the video content on phones, TVs and tablets using the internet.

To enhance the network performance in Thimphu, Namgay Wangchuk said that TashiCell optimised and expanded capacity of all their 4G base stations- the transmission and reception stations in a fixed location.

The arrival of data from the source called throughout capacity of the core network was increased as well. 

With the huge demand of mobile internet it was difficult to cater to the needs of the subscribers due to system limitations in the technology, Namgay Wangchuk said.

TashiCell plans the expansion of the network in other dzongkhags once the lockdown eases.

An official from BTL said that the BTL received fewer complaints from the subscribers.

“BTL was continuously densifying the network–adding more equipment to receive and transmit radio signals for cellular voice and data transmission– before the

lockdown and this helped ease the network congestions,” he said.

Both officials from the telcos said that there were no plans to provide incentives to subscribers.

The telecom operators provided free data of more than one giga-byte in August and revised the internet packages twice last year.