An ambitious plan by the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) to begin construction of its District Optical Fibre Network Programme has so far failed to get off the drawing board, due to problems in receiving the necessary go ahead from the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC). The Himalayan News Service reports that the fibre programme, which is scheduled as a task in the NTA’s current financial year, had planned to use monies collected in the Kingdom’s Rural Telecom Development Fund (RTDF) to construct the new infrastructure. However, a spokesman at the NTA is quoted as saying that in light of the MoIC’s heel-dragging, ‘the plan to complete the District Optical Fibre Network Programme by 2014 is almost impossible’. The watchdog had proposed rolling out a high speed data service offering a minimum 256kbps bandwidth in 38 districts and their rural communities by that date.
The setback is a blow to the NTA which in its annual report had optimistically said: ‘The necessary infrastructure will be developed for the successful implementation of broadband in all villages and phone-on-demand in all cities as a campaign.’ It is understood that about NPR5 billion (USD59 million) has been collected through the RTDF – principally from five telcos – Nepal Telecom (NT), Spice Nepal Private (Ncell), United Telecom Limited (UTL), Nepal Satellite Telecom and STM Telecom Sanchar. Smart Telecom meanwhile, is currently exempted due to a clause in its licence.