Does Network Choke During Peak Internet Traffic Hours in India?
Since data has become affordable and phones become cheaper, India has been hooked to internet 24/7. But have you wondered what are the peak internet traffic hours in India? It turns out that Google monitors hourly video consumption usages and the report is publicly available here. If you then take Youtube as a proxy of how India consumes internet, and run the report, you will find not one but two peak hours of video consumption - first around 1 PM in the afternoon and another at 9:00 PM in the night. But when whole of India is binging on videos, do we all get same level of network quality as we get during non-peak hours? The answer is no. At any point of time, the quality of a network also depends on the number of users accessing the network along with you. Therefore, at peak hours, you are likely to experience a deteriorated network quality. The level of network degradation also depends on your location and your network provider. Thanks to the Youtube video quality report, you can now quantify the level of deterioration in the network by your network provider and your location. Luckily, I had access to an Airtel connection, a Jio connection, and a broadband connection and I was able to run the report for all three network providers.
Network Choking on Airtel Network
The graph below shows the video consumption and streaming quality on Y-axis and time of the day on x-axis for Airtel network. Youtube has three streaming quality — Lower Definition (LD), Standard Definition (SD), and High Definition (HD). If there were no network choking, we would not see any variation in streaming quality. However, if the network quality deteriorates at any point, users will be forced to see a lower quality SD video. We can clearly see in the image below that during the peak hours of 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM, SD video consumption peaks and only 59% of videos streamed are of the HD quality. In the off peak hours of 2:00 AM to 5:00 AM, 87% of video streaming is of the HD quality.
Network Choking on Jio Network
On Jio network, HD streaming drops to 44% at 9:00 PM — 10:00 PM.
Network Choking on Wifi
I also ran this report for my broadband/wifi provider. Video streaming quality doesn’t fluctuate much on Wifi network and 90% of streaming data is HD quality.
We all have felt patches of bad network connection on various occasions but it was great to look at the data and quantify the magnitude of network degradation using Youtube’s video quality report. Again, this report is location specific and you may get completely different results for different set of locations.
If you are a developer and responsible for building and maintaining a performant mobile site, you need to pay attention here. Now you know that mobile network slows down during peak hours, it is all the more important to have a performant mobile website or app. You don’t want your users to stare at a loading icon when most of India has the time to come online!
Disclaimer: Views expressed above are my own and the analysis is based on my own interpretation of a publicly available data. This in no way represents the view of my current or previous employers.