India and The Internet: How is India Connected to the Internet!!
The Internet has become the indispensable part of our lives. We have replaced every physical activity with the internet. The Internet has, of course, made our lives very easy and knowledgeable when it is used in the right way. From reading newspapers to online scrolling feeds and websites, from going to the shopping market to buying things online. The Internet has changed our lives and habits completely. We can’t imagine surviving without the internet these days but do you know how this internet platform is provided to you ?? Where does your Internet service provider get internet from? How does the Internet reach India?
Don’t worry If you don’t, we are here to rescue.
Internet in India
Internet in India was launched 31 years back through Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL) on 14 August 1995. Internet in India then was only used for research and education purposes. Today India is the 2nd most big online market with almost 460 million internet users in India.
Also, internet users are dominated by men than women by a high percentage. Internet connectivity in India through time has increased so vastly. It is available in many ways, be it through wireless connections or broadband or USB sticks. India has combined internet speed is 36,000 Gbps! More than 99% of internet traffic relies on high-quality fiber optic cables connecting various countries. Only a minuscule part of the traffic goes through satellites.
How are these cables Maintained?
These cable networks are laid and maintained by various governments and giant companies. Such projects are usually undertaken by multiple companies due to the large cost of investment. There are three tiers which differentiate the size of the network held by a company.
These are the companies which have a global network, connecting so many cables around the world. They provide access to any destination on the internet for free to others. They usually access the network of other tier-1 companies without paying any fee. This network acts as the backbone of the internet.
These are companies which have a regional network and are usually connected to one or more tier-1 networks. They have to pay the fee to access the tier-1 company’s network.
These are the Internet Service Providers(ISPs) from whom we buy their broadband connections. They are the last tier, connecting the internet to the end users.
India is connected to the world at Mumbai, Cochin, Chennai, and Tuticorin. All of our international internet traffic goes through these port cities. The place where the international cables connect to the land is called landing stations.
Tata Communications owns 3 landing stations in Mumbai, Chennai, and Cochin. They are the only Tier-1 company in India.
Bharti Airtel owns 2 landings stations in Chennai and Mumbai.
Reliance Globalcom owns 1 landing station in Mumbai.
Sify Technologies owns 1 landing station in Mumbai
BSNL owns 1 landing station in Tuticorin connecting to Sri Lanka.
On the eastern side, we are connected to Singapore from Chennai. On the western side, we are connected to UAE thorough cables from Mumbai. And, on the southern side, we are connected to the cables coming from South Africa.
Delivering the traffic from one network to another is called peering. There is a non-profit government organization in India called National Internet Exchange of India(NIXI) which allows Indian ISPs to use each others network in an efficient manner rather than using foreign servers.
Networks within India
There are several networks within India, one of them is RailTel- a government project started in 2000 to lay fiber optic cables along the routes of the railway tracks. These cables are capable of bandwidth up to 400Gbps and have redundancy systems which re-routes the traffic in case of any malfunction at any point. They have a network of over 30,000KM.
The total bandwidth owned by Indian internet service providers was 2933Gbit/s as on June 2017. There are around 158 Internet service providers in India. They provide narrow and broadband services in India. Jio, BSNL, Airtel, MtNL are some majorly used. The top Internet service providers in Bangalore are Hathway, Airtel, BSNl, Ant broadband and many more. Airtel also has been awarded as the fastest mobile network.
National Optical Fibre Network
This is a project started in 2011 to connect over 250,000 Grama Panchayaths via high-speed fiber optic cable at a cost of Rs 20,000 crore. The plan was to use the existing optical fiber networks of RailTel, BSNL, and power grid to extend the network to more locations. The aim is to bring a minimum of 100Mbps connectivity to each Grama Panchayath. As of 2015, only 40% of the planned network has been completed. The biggest obstacle in this project is ‘right of way’ which is described as people are not allowing to lay cable over their land.
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Internet Usage in India
According to speed test Global index India was ranked 64th from 121 countries by average broadband speed. The average broadband download speed is 26.71Mbits/s and the average upload speed is 22.35Mbits/s. India used 967 petabytes per month in 2014 and is increasing at a rate of 33% per year. It is expected that it will grow to 4 Exabytes by 2019. According to a newspaper report from 2013, India has a total international bandwidth of 33,900 Gb per second although only around 6,009Gbps are ready to use while only 1,110Gbps are consumed. The users of the internet in 2016 was 29.5% of the population. Certainly, these figures must have increased by now.
A new cable landing station in Digha, West Bengal connecting southeast Asia has approved for Rs 1600 crore in 2011. Since then, there have been no much updates about this project.
A new connection is being established from Bangladesh to Agartala. This will give better connectivity to Northeastern states. This project was signed during PM Modi’s recent visit to Bangladesh. Also, there are various other projects on the internet going on, in 2018 google launched a project named Navlekha which focuses on bringing all types of publishers content online.
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Now, for the evil minds out there, yes it is possible to disconnect a country from the internet by cutting these cables. In 2012, the only cable connecting Bangladesh to the international network was cut off and they lost their internet for nearly a month. Similar incidents have also occurred in Myanmar.
In July 2005, a portion of thesubmarine cable located 35 kilometres (22 mi) south of that provided ‘s major outer communications became defective, disrupting almost all of Pakistan’s communications with the rest of the world, and affecting approximately 10 million Internet users.
In March 2007,stole a 11-kilometre (7 mi) section of the submarine cable that connected , , and afflicted Vietnam’s Internet users with far slower speeds. The thieves attempted to sell the 100 tons of cable as scrap.
Check it yourself
If you are on a PC running Windows:-
- Open your command prompt. (Search CMD in windows search )
- Type tracert google
If you are on a MAC or Linux system:-
- Open Terminal
- Type traceroute google
You will now see the IP addresses of all the devices through which you are connected to Google’s server, along with the response time it took at each stage. This helps in knowing the path/cables through which your information is being passed. You can try some other websites too.
That was a small glance into the world of underwater/underground cables. These are some things which many people are oblivious of, although they are necessary for the working of the internet.
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