NTA calls on government to license fifth operator

13 Aug 2007

The Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA) has issued a recommendation to the government that it license a new company to offer basic telephony services across the country in a phased rollout. Citing the Chairman of NTA board Dinesh Sharma, the Kathmandu Post newspaper writes that the recommendation is being made in order to extend telephone services to the western part of Nepal, currently the least developed part of the country in terms of telecoms coverage. ‘Existing companies concentrated only on lucrative urban areas and eastern Nepal. To break that trend, we are recommending that the government grant a new licence for western Nepal, and offer the company a licence to operate the service in the remaining parts also as an incentive,’ he is reported as saying.

It is understood that the NTA intends to compel the new licensee to provide basic telephony services in 273 villages in the mid-western parts of Nepal in the first phase of deployment. The licence winner will also be required to build capacity to provide services to up to half of the remaining parts of the region. It will be given 15 months from the date of its licence award to meet these goals. In phase two, the new entrant will be given a further 25 months to extend similar coverage of western and far-western regions of the country. If it succeeds in meeting these terms, it will then be granted rights to offer services countrywide.

The NTA says the new licence will be technology neutral, allowing the would-be newcomer to roll out any type of wired or wireless technology, including CDMA. However, it will not be allowed to use GSM or 3G/UMTS mobile technologies. The regulator is also recommending a nominal licence fee in a bid to stimulate interest for the permit, which will also include the fillip of allowing the winner to offer limited mobility services.

Nepal, Nepal Telecom (NT)