A report from Ookla on the impact of COVID-19 on the performance of internet in 115 countries indicate mobile data speeds in Ghana and Sri Lanka were among the hardest hit by the pandemic.
The report, updated in July 2020, indicates mobile data speeds in the two countries suffered a 20% drop due to the pandemic, which is only a 1 percentage point better than the 21% drop in Ethiopia.
But, whereas fixed broadband speeds increased by 25% in Ghana, it dropped by 7% in Sri Lanka and dropped by a whopping 20% in Ethiopia.
Right behind Ghana and Sri Lanka is Oman with 19% drop in mobile data speed.
In Ghana, the telecom operators are the main mobile data service providers, and they zero-rated loads of websites for customers, while giving government institutions access to various digital platforms to be able to work from home.
MTN Ghana alone has so far seen a whopping 150 Terabytes of free data consumed on its platform due to the zero-rated offer it gave.
Meanwhile, MTN reported some 50% increase to their network capacity, while Vodafone reported a 60% increase to network capacity to accommodate the Covid-19 period data consumption spike. Meaning things could have been much worse but for the network capacity boosts by the leading telcos.
The CEO of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, Dr. Ken Ashigbey did admonish Ghanaians not to abuse the zero-rated date offer, but not many could afford not to, as the lockdown period saw people staying home and access information and entertainment mainly via digital platforms.
Even business institutions have resorted to working from home and therefore depending heavily on digital platforms like the various video conferencing apps for meetings, workshops, seminars and even whole conferences.
Other countries where mobile data speed dropped between 1 and 15 per cent include Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Nigeria, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Netherlands, Mongolia, and Lebanon.
The rest are Jamaica, Hungary, Honduras, Georgia, Finland, Ethiopia, Estonia, Denmark, Czechia, Croatia Chile, Colombia, Canada, Cambodia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belarus, and Afghanistan.
The biggest winners on mobile data speeds during the pandemic were Trinidad and Tobago with a whopping 135% increase, followed by Macau with 106%, then Iraq – 71%, Costa Rica – 62%, Hong Kong – 54%, El Savador – 50%, and China followed with 44% increase in mobile data speeds.
The rest saw increased of between 1 to 33%.
On the fixed broadband side, Syria recorded the highest increase in speeds – 49% during the pandemic, while Ethiopia again recorded the worse performance of 20% decrease in fixed broadband speeds.