Nepal’s WiMAX auction could be derailed again

6 Aug 2012

Online news journal eKantipur reports that Nepal’s planned auction of WiMAX wireless spectrum looks sets to be delayed again, following the resignation of Bhesh Raj Kanel, the chairman of the national regulator the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA). The watchdog intends to sell off frequencies of WiMAX-suitable spectrum in the country to enable carriers to offer broadband wireless access (BWA) high speed voice and data services to customers.

Although plans for the WiMAX auction were in the final stages of securing government approval, the resignation of Bhesh Raj Kanel last Tuesday has thrown the process into doubt – much to the frustration of internet service providers (ISPs) which have been waiting for over a year for the spectrum to be allocated. The outgoing chairman has been replaced by NTA Director Ananda Raj Khanal on an interim basis, but the NTA board official does not have a mandate either to call a board meeting or to take any policy level decision, and in the meantime it is unclear when Bhesh Raj Kanel’s successor will be appointed.

It is not all bad news though. State-owned PTO Nepal Telecom (NT) has been assigned a 30MHz block of spectrum to offer WiMAX services and intends on launching a data service from 15 September this year. According to the NTA, the telco will be charged for its WiMAX spectrum at a later date based on the auction allocations that take place in future. The government of the mountain Kingdom has set aside parts of the 2.3GHz and 3.3GHz band for WiMAX voice and data services. The annual spectrum fee for WiMAX spectrum has been set at NPR300,000 (USD3,445) per 1MHz per annum for an ISP, and NPR7 million per 1MHz per year for telecom operators.