A new company plans to throw its hat into the ring in the Nepalese telecoms market, with the news that Smart Telecom aims to launch basic telephony services before the end of 2009. If all goes accordingly, the arrival of Smart will raise the number of players in the sector to five – four incumbent operators currently offer services, namely Nepal Telecom, Spice Nepal Private Limited, United Telecom Limited and STM Telecom Sanchar. An unnamed official at Smart Telecom told local paper MyRepublica that the firm, which acquired a licence to provide telecom services after paying a fee of USD39,500, is a joint venture between Nepali, Singaporean and Israeli companies. Lal Sahu Distributions Limited of Singapore holds a 70% stake in the company, while Square Network Nepal and Gilat Satellite Networks of Israel have 20% and 10% shares, respectively.
Under the terms and conditions of its licence award, Smart Telecom will initially have to introduce services in 398 Village Development Committees (VDCs) in remote areas of western, mid-western, far-western and central regions. Relying on VSAT (very small aperture terminal) technology, Smart intends to launch at least two lines in each of the VDCs it is targeting, following which it will be able to expand its network to other parts of the country and introduce international call services.