Amidst protests and Internet blackouts, e-businesses cry for help

App-based ride-hailing services such as Ola and Uber were disrupted across Uttar Pradesh after the state government ordered a suspension of mobile Internet

e4m by Anjali Thakur
Published: Dec 24, 2019 8:29 AM  | 3 min read
Internet Shutdown

“At around 9.30 am on a Friday, I was trying to book a cab, after many efforts, I received an SMS from my service provider which stated that as per government instructions, the Internet services have been temporarily stopped in your area. This message came as a bummer as there was hardly any other public transport available near my location, due to the protests taking place in the city. In today’s time, we all are highly dependent on Internet connectivity and in situations like these, one only feels handicapped.” Aakchad Nath, a resident of Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh shared.

App-based ride-hailing services such as Ola and Uber were disrupted across Uttar Pradesh after the state government ordered a suspension of mobile Internet. According to residents, the services of food delivery services such as Swiggy and Zomato were also offline.  Not just these services, app-based grocery delivery such as  Big Basket, Grofers and home service expert Urban Clap was also hit by the shutdown.

“It is indeed a disruption; we are just trying to work through it. We used to receive multiple orders through Zomato, Swiggy or Uber eats but since the last few days, it has highly impacted us (a dip of around 10-20%). We have started taking orders on the calls, so that way it is staying afloat,” Anuj Kumar, founder, Sir John Bakery expressed.

Residents of Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, where the Internet was shut down from Thursday night struggled to book cabs through Uber and Ola. Many cab drivers are trying to take passengers without the support of the cab but the business has been substantially hit.

“It’s not good news for us, we have to earn our livelihood. We have EMI’s, loans, rents that we have to pay off and if the ban continues it only looks difficult. If the ban continues, it will be difficult for us to earn our livelihood. This is the time of Christmas and New Year until last year, we used to get maximum footfalls around this time of the year, but sadly it doesn’t look very good right now,” Rajendra Kumar, an Uber driver told us.

exchange4media reached out to the ride-hailing service provider Uber and Ola for a reaction, but they declined to comment.

When a brand relies on the Internet for services, in a situation like this how much does a brand suffer in terms of revenues and how should they market themselves at a time when Internet connectivity across areas of NCR has no certainty?

Sabyasachi Mitter, founder and Managing Director, Fulcro opined, “In today’s world every brand depends on the Internet for a part of its revenue on a daily basis. This includes even traditional businesses like insurance, airlines as well as Internet-based businesses such as food aggregators and e-commerce players. We must, however, note that India has one of the cheapest data tariffs in the world which has fuelled this growth in online revenues. There have been only a handful of instances where the Internet has been restricted in the national interest to enforce law and order and in all cases are temporary in nature. In such cases, most consumers either wait it out or shift to offline modes of transactions. I don’t think any brand would do anything differently for such momentary business disruptions as in all certainty this will pass, the only question is in how many days,” he shared.  

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