State-owned national fixed line and mobile operator Nepal Telecom (NT) has added a net 1.2 million subscribers in its financial year ended June 2010, The Himalayan Times writes quoting its managing director, Amar Nath Singh, as saying. At the end of the period under review the operator claimed a total of more than 5.45 million connections, broken down as 3.96 million GSM lines, 905,000 CDMA subscribers and 584,000 fixed line PSTN customers. The NT official noted that the popularity of GSM services in particular has helped to consolidate the telco’s position as the country’s leading operator by subscribers. However, Singh said the firm is not resting on its laurels and intends to add a further five million fixed and mobile lines over the next three years to retain its top spot.
As part of its ambitious expansion plan NT is looking to further penetrate rural areas, he said. Specifically, the company plans to add 1.8 million GSM users in smaller villages over the next two years as well as around 600,000 CDMA lines. In addition, NT is looking to upgrade 3.5 million mobiles lines to cater for 3G/4G services and to that end is currently ‘analysing technical parts of the system’, he said. Moreover, the former monopoly will roll out Wi-Fi services in 500 public places in 2010/11 to improve the brand image of NT, Singh said, including coverage of hospitals, bus stations and colleges. The expansion is backed by a board-approved CAPEX budget of NPR48.7 billion (USD666.4 million) for the current financial year, of which NPR44.2 billion will be funded from internal resources and the remainder from outside the company. NT posted net profits of NPR10.17 billion in FY2009/10.
NT’s footprint has also been extended to take in all village development committees (VDCs) in the country, after adding Sapata VDC in the Bajura district this month. NT is providing telecoms access in Sapata through KU-band very small aperture technology (VSAT). In November last year the Nepali government directed NT to add 199 VDCs to the PSTN. To achieve this, the telco is providing telephone service through 152 C-band and 312 KU-band terminals, Singh said.