Chennai Cyclone: Online Transactions, Connectivity Taken By Storm
The severe cyclonic storm ‘Vardah’ that hit Chennai and its neighbouring areas including Tiruvallur and Kanchipuram already claimed several lives, destroyed homes, snapped up communication lines - and brought every kind of online transaction to a standstill.
However, what’s happening in Chennai has a great bearing on the rest of the country as well, where Internet services have been affected. That’s because, a customer from Delhi or Mumbai or any other city while paying up for a service in a shop or a restaurant may also realize that the transaction is not taking place. The food for thought is, at a time when demonetization has left the country completely baffled and literally ‘cashless’, any disruption in online transactions is bound to pose a big issue.
Currently severaltelecom and internet providers are having their services completely disrupted. After all, Google itself is experiencing network issues in India due to the cyclone, resulting in restricted service operation, even though the IT major, along with other providers are working to restore normalcy.
The telcos are the first ones to suffer Chennai’s heavy rain and squall. Airtel has been one of the worst hits. Internet and broadband subscribers of Airtel complained of slower speed in the country as one of the undersea cables of the company has been hit by the cyclone.
“Due to the severe cyclone at Chennai coast, one of our international undersea cables has been damaged and Internet traffic has been partially impacted. As a result, customers in some locations may be experiencing slow internet/data speeds,” an Airtel spokesperson told PTI in an article published on Indian Express. [Read the full story here]
The company has however sent out information to its customers and are looking to fix the situation. “Our teams are working to normalize the operations at the earliest possible, and making alternate arrangements to divert international internet traffic,” the spokesperson said in the report.
Vodafone too said in a statement: “We are experiencing challenges in fibre media backbone in Chennai due to this phenomenon and as a result Internet traffic moving via Trans Pacific Route may get impacted.”
As the roaring wind clocking speed of 100 km per hour uprooted trees, damaged hoardings and toppled cars, taxi and hotel aggregrators and all the companies that rely heavily on online transactions and services have been severely affected.
Prabhakar, who drives a cab for one of the aggregators, told CXOtoday that he had not received any travel request since cyclone Vardah struck the Chennai coast close to 72 hours ago. “We first had to face the challenge of demonetization and now 3G service has let us down,” he said adding that technology must be made disaster-proof else the poor will suffer more.
Saktivel, who works as a receptionist for a room aggregation service in Chennai, too found it tougher as guests could not locate the guest house because Google Maps was not functioning. The cellphones also faced severe signal drops. “In fact some guests stopped at roadside stalls and called us from landlines,” he said.
There were also issues related to registration of guests as without Internet there is no way bookings could be confirmed and personal data entered from tabs. “We have been used to this method since we started. Now I find it tough without Internet,” he lamented.
Internet is becoming an indispensible part of businesses and consumers in the country. From that point of view, Digital India undoutedly brings with it a lot of advantages. However, going ‘digital’ and ‘cashless’ will continue to pose challenges until the underlying infrastructure is overhauled.
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