United Telecom Ltd (UTL), an Indian joint venture and the first foreign operator to enter the Nepali telecoms market, has run up losses of NPR4.54 billion (USD70 million) as a result of an ongoing strike, which has crippled the firm for the last month, and what it claims is the government’s unhelpful telecoms policy. UTL is a joint venture between India’s Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL), Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL) and Telecommunications Consultants India. In Nepal it operates in collaboration with Nepal Venture Private Limited. Despite being the first foreign-backed firm to set up shop in Nepal in July 2003, UTL has experienced a torrid time in establishing itself. It has endured a number of government-imposed shut downs of its services amid fears its handsets could be adapted and used by Maoist insurgents, and now its headquarters in Kathmandu and its service centres in the valley have been closed since 6 February due to an indefinite strike called by a labour union affiliated to the prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s Nepali Congress party. Intervention from the country’s Labour Commission and two government Ministries have thus far failed to resolve the issue.