Regulator poised to launch WiMAX spectrum auction

7 Sep 2011

The Kathmandu Post writes that national regulator the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) is gearing up for an auction of 2.3GHz and 3.3GHz spectrum for WiMAX-based technologies suitable for the provision of wireless broadband services. The NTA is reportedly poised to issue requests for proposals (RFPs) to operators interested in providing voice and high speed internet services even in remote areas of the mountain Kingdom. It is understood however, that the watchdog has already set aside 30MHz of spectrum to state-owned incumbent operator Nepal Telecom (NT) – i.e. it will not have to compete for the frequencies – following a recent decision by the Radio Frequency Policy Determination Committee, acting under the auspices of the Ministry of Information and Communications. The paper adds that the NTA is now looking to assign WiMAX spectrum to an as yet unnamed private sector telco and to one of the country’s internet service providers (ISPs) through an auction process. To that end, the government has set a fixed price of NPR800,000 (USD11,050) per 5MHz of WiMAX spectrum. Although NT will not have to bid in the auction, it is understood it will be charged a fee for its frequencies. According to the provisions set by the frequency policy committee, an ISP will have to pay NPR300,000 per annum as a spectrum fee for WiMAX frequencies, while NT and the private sector telco will be charged NPR7 million per MHz per annum.

National PTO Nepal Telecom has already invited tenders to roll out its WiMAX broadband services (in the 2.3GHz-2.4GHz band) and aims to cover every village development committee (VDC) with a minimum 256kbps (uplink/downlink) service. It will award separate contracts for its west and east networks shortly, with total capacity expected to be set at 100,000 subscribers. NT hopes to deliver quad-play services to end users with the west network spanning 1,923 VDCs and 24 municipalities in Gandaki, Lumbini, Dhaulagiri, Rapti, Bheri, Karnali, Seti and Mahakali zones. Meanwhile, the network to be built in the east will cover 2,092 VDCs and 34 municipalities in Bagmati, Narayani, Janakpur, Sagarmatha, Koshi and Mechi zones, according to NT.