The government of Nepal has begun the process of converting existing wireless licences to technology neutral permits, enabling operators to use their current 1800MHz frequency holdings to offer 4G LTE services. A report from the Kathmandu Post says the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) has already decided to adopt a technology neutral approach and has called on the industry regulator, the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA), to devise an action plan for the conversion of licences. The Ministry is expecting that the country’s two mobile operators – Ncell and Nepal Telecom (NT) – will be free to launch 4G services as early as the middle of next month.
Separately, the MoIC has also asked the NTA to prepare a detailed work plan on how best to spend money held in the Rural Telecom Development Fund (RTDF), which is contributed by telcos and supports infrastructure rollouts in rural areas. In August 2015 the government unveiled plans to spend NPR1.48 billion (USD14 million) from the RTDF in the fiscal year to mid-July 2016. The planned investment represented just 14% of the funds available under the RTDF at that time. The investment has gone towards four main projects: the District Optical Fibre Project (NPR1 billion of the total spend); broadband infrastructure development in 14 earthquake-affected districts (NPR330 million); the establishment of one model e-village development committee in each of the country’s 75 districts (NPR75 million); and the extension of internet services to 500 rural community schools and colleges (NPR75 million).