Internet speed, traffic show pick up in economic activity continues

Metro trains parked at a yard as Metro services are suspended following the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic in New Delhi on Thursday. Photo: ANI
The Indian Railways reported an uptick in moving goods and more people took out their cars: all in a week when the total number of coronaviru cases crossed the ten-lakh mark. Other weekly indicators too showed signs of sustained economic activity.

Business Standard tracks weekly indicators to get an updated picture of economic activity in the country. Other indicators, like gross domestic product (GDP) or trade data, appear with a lag and they often capture only monthly or quarterly figures. Higher-frequency indicators show what’s happening on the ground as the country struggles with lockdowns to control the coronavirus. These indicators include internet speeds, power generation numbers, pollution, Google data on mobility, and freight and traffic numbers. Most indicators are for the week ending either Saturday or Sunday. Others, like Google’s mobility report and internet speed data, appear with a lag.

Traffic thinned—according to data from location technology firm TomTom International—when India locked down in March. It has shown signs of revival after the unlocking began. Last week (data as of 19 July) saw some gains in Mumbai too, though Delhi traffic has risen faster.


The Indian Railways freight data shows the quantity of goods carried is at nearly normal levels compared to the same week in 2019. It was down 2.9 per cent over last year. The figure was 8.8 per cent in the previous week. Earnings from goods are also recovering. They are down 7.7 per cent, compared to 15.6 per cent last week).


Power generation is also at levels close to where they were in 2019. A seven-day rolling average as of 19 July shows it’s at 97.7 per cent of the levels last year.


Business Standard tracks nitrogen dioxide emissions, the pollutant resulting from vehicles or industries. It remains below normal levels in Delhi, and more so in Mumbai shows data as of July 19.


Google’s mobility report is as of 14 July. It uses location data to track visits to various kinds of places. Workplace visits had picked up after the unlocking. They now show signs of moderation. The latest numbers are the lowest since early June.


People are working from home, so this has often meant an increased internet load. More people use video conferencing or video entertainment. There had been a dip in internet speeds after the lockdown was announced in multiple countries including India, shows data from global internet tracker Ookla. It had since risen here after the unlocking. Both mobile and fixed internet speeds for the week ending July 12, dipped over the previous week.


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