The number of people with a mobile phone in Nepal has eclipsed those with a traditional fixed line connection for the first time, according to online news portal Kantipur Report. The widespread availability of affordable mobile alternatives has helped boost cellular subscribers to a total of 979,227, compared to 576,693 main lines in service for incumbent Nepal Telecom (NT) and privately owned operator United Telecom Limited (UTL). With 1,555,920 fixed and mobile lines in service, combined teledensity now stands at 6.04%, with NT claiming 77%, or 1,203,920, of all lines in operation.
The state owned telco has signed up a total of 675,884 GSM mobile lines, and a further 3,343 using limited mobility services operating with CDMA technology on pre-paid packages. NT reportedly provides cellular services in 40 Nepali districts, of which more than 50 % are in Kathmandu Valley. In addition, NT has connected 491,506 PSTN lines, 33,022 fixed wireless access (FWA) lines operating on CDMA technology and 165 lines operating on wireless in the local loop (WiLL) technology. 54% of PSTN lines are found in Kathmandu Valley, where NT has capacity for 317,624 lines, distributed through 226 exchanges in 72 districts.
The country’s first private mobile operator Spice Nepal Private Limited (SNPL), which launched commercial operations under the banner Mero Mobile on 17 September 2005, has signed up 280,000 lines to date, of which around 2,600 are post-paid users. United Telecom Limited (UTL), meanwhile, Nepal’s first private fixed line service provider – awarded a licence to issue mobile phone lines using limited mobility technology in 2006 – has 20,000 CDMA users and a 52,000-strong fixed phone client base.