Internet shutdowns around the world grew 36 percent to over 30,000 hours in 2021, costing the global economy a whopping $5.45 billion (roughly Rs. 40,300 crore), according to a report. India was ranked among the top three countries where the cost of Internet shutdowns was the highest last year. The report said that the country saw a total of 1,157 hours of Internet shutdowns in 2021 — involving a total cost of $582.8 million (roughly Rs. 4,300 crore).
The report by virtual private network (VPN) focussed website Top10VPN noted that global Internet shutdowns affected a population of 486.2 million people in 2021. This shows an 80 percent year-over-year increment of the impact of Internet shutdowns. As many as 50 major Internet outages took place in 21 countries and 75 percent of government outages across the globe were associated with additional human rights abuses.
Myanmar was the leading country where Internet shutdowns cost $2.8 billion (roughly Rs. 20,700 crore) that lasted for 12,238 hours and impacted 22 million users in 2021. Nigeria came second in the list where outages impacted 104.4 million people and involved a cost of $1.5 billion (roughly Rs. 11,100 crore).
Following Myanmar and Nigeria, India took the third spot with the 1,157 hours of Internet shutdowns that all took place last year and included 317.5 hours of complete Internet blackout and 840 hours of bandwidth throttling in which only 2G services were provided.
India’s Internet shutdowns in 2021 affected 59.1 million people in the country.
Top10VPN stated that the biggest economic hit in India came from throttling Internet speeds in Kashmir where the connectivity was finally restored in February last year — after 18 months of 2G-only access.
“The intentional slowdown to 2G speeds rendered the Internet in Kashmir functionally near-useless, causing education and business to suffer during a pandemic that made everyone more dependent on reliable internet access,” the report said.
The government also imposed a localised Internet blackout in Delhi as its early response to the large-scale farmers’ protest that resulted in a high cost, according to the report.
Internet shutdowns in countries including India, Myanmar, and Bangladesh made Asia the top-most continent where the total economic cost of outages was the highest at $3.42 billion (roughly Rs. 25,300 crore) in 2021. The connectivity loss in the region also impacted 292 million people for 13,458 hours in total, the report noted.
Sub-Saharan Africa and Middle East and North Africa were the other two regions where the cost of Internet shutdowns was the most in comparison with others.
Country-wise Internet shutdowns in 2021 as per Top10VPN
|Rank||Country||Total Cost||Duration (Hrs)||Internet Users Affected|
|1||Myanmar||$2.8 billion||12,238||22 million|
|2||Nigeria||$1.5 billion||5,040||104.4 million|
|3||India||$582.8 million||1,157||59.1 million|
|4||Ethiopia||$164.5 million||8,864||21.3 million|
|5||Sudan||$157.4 million||777||13.2 million|
|6||Uganda||$109.7 million||692||10.6 million|
|7||Bangladesh||$49.7 million||60||112.7 million|
|8||Burkina Faso||$35.9 million||192||10.9 million|
|9||Cuba||$33.1 million||176||7 million|
|10||Syria||$28.7 million||104||5.9 million|
Military coup was the leading reason that prompted local authorities to cut Internet access for nearly 10,000 hours that cost $2.79 billion (roughly Rs. 20,600 crore) to the world economy in 2021. It was followed by Information control and political repression, as per the report.
TopVPN10 said that Twitter was the most blocked social media platform in 2021 that saw 10 shutdowns for a total of 12,379 hours. Facebook and Meta’s other offerings namely WhatsApp and Instagram were among the other two platforms most impacted in the year, the website highlighted.
For calculating the economic impact of Internet shutdowns around the world, TopVPN10 used the COST tool developed by Internet monitoring NGO Netblocks and advocacy groups The Internet Society and Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA). It also sourced Internet outages reported by Netblocks real-time data, Internet Outage Detection and Analysis (IODA), and the SFLC.in’s Internet Shutdown Tracker.