Nationwide Expansion of Internet by FY 2020/21

KATHMANDU: Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA) aims to complete the expansion work of high speed internet by the end of the current fiscal year 2020/21.

Similarly, it also projects to complete around 50 percent of the construction of optical fiber of 16 core to build Information Super Highway in all highways of the seven provinces by the end of the current fiscal year.

There has been a problem in the import, installation and operation the equipment to provide the service as a result the telecommunication service extension has been affected.

Till now, NTA has made available high speed in 10,368 places including 466 in local authorities, 3910 ward offices, 3220 health centers and 2772 community schools except the valley.

It is also studying about new services such as MVNO, GPS Tracking Service to regulate and include them under its regulation. Likewise, it is also providing basic training of mobile repairmen, installation of optical fiber and computer repairmen in remote areas of all provinces in collaboration with CTEVT.

Other Major Works of NTA in FY 2020/21

Despite the pandemic of COVID 19, NTA expedited the work of collaborating with world telecommunication organization to establish the satellite and earth station possessing its own authority It cleaned the claim of Laos in the orbital slot allocated by ITU for Nepal due to which Nepal can use the slot whenever it wants.

It also issued white paper with a work progress, challenges and problems and solutions for the completion of the rural development project by solving its disputes occurred in early days. It implemented office automation system and interconnect regulation for increasing competition among the service providers in international incoming calls.

It has provided frequency band of 1800 MHz through open competition bidding. Although its base price is Rs 30 million per MHz, it increased the country’s revenue by 63 percent as it increased the base price to Rs 58 million per MHz through bidding.

A huge amount of tax from Ncell, which was not being received by the country, is able received by the state with the condition of paying the capital profitable tax before providing the frequency. It is providing the frequency in a way to extend the 4G service ensuring its coverage and quality across the country by 2022.

At present, the 4G service is available throughout the country. The authority recommended the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology to use the band of 900 MHz for the stability of the technology. It has already done re-farming of the frequency of 800 MHz band and 1800 MHz.

In order to develop and regulate the Mobile Payment Services, the authority also signed a memorandum of understanding with Nepal Rastra Bank and implemented the service. It also permitted Nepal Telecom and Ncell to open subsidiary company working as payment service providers.

We initiated an evaluation of the work completion of head of all main branches of the branches.

NTA provided mobile tracking service for tracking the lost phone sets. It started the process of Satellite Filling in International Telecommunication Union(ITU) for effective isotropic radiated power (EIRP) of Ku-band and Orbital Slot.

We recommended giving consent on the decision of extending the free service period of the communication service providers in the places, which were, affected the most by the earthquake. It collaborated with National Information Technology Center to establish internet exchange service in Lalitpur inside the Kathmandu valley and in Butwal outside the valley.

We also recommended to develop required infrastructure and system for Emergency Continuity Plan to pre-inform the message about natural disaster like earthquake, flood, landslide, avalanche etc. It also recommended conducting a study about laws and management needed for e-waste management. It also studied about technological aspect of the service related to mobile banking to assess the EMR of mobile tower.

Meanwhile, NTA implemented regular supervision and investigation for checking whether the mobile and basic telecommunication service providers are working according to the terms of the license including their roll out plan or not.

NTA has also prepared online complain handing system to address the customers’ complain for the service of the service providers. Also it Immediately resolved different complaints filed through different medium including Hello Sarkar in collaboration with the concerned service providers and the concerned authority.

We have also made an availability of the data of contact tracking by collaborating in tracing work of the COVID 19 infectant and their travel history. It also assisted technically to prepare MobileApps of Crisis Management Centre (CCMC). It operated the info-technology lab in 850 schools and setting up such lab in other places too.

NTA eased eased the import of internet bandwidth to Nepal through other internet service providers too due to which the price of internet has been decreasing. Prior to this, the bandwidth used to come get import through only two service providers. It completed the import of internet bandwidth from Hong Kong through China and brought in the bandwidth from Kerung border.

We also completed the construction of needed infrastructure to import the bandwidth through Tatopani customs too. In order to avoid illegal import of the mobile set, NTA arranged online system to register the mobile set EIR. Also NTA imported necessary devices for establishing Mobile Device Management System(MDMS), its installation, supervision and operation . It also initiated quality assessment of mobile service by purchasing the necessary drive test equipment.

Currently, NTA is working to establish Probe based Quality of Service Monitoring System to improve the quality of the mobile services.

In order to assess the quality of phone call on mobile service, NTA launched NTA Call mobile app for customers’ mobile service where they can make complaints about the quality. The app will record the quality of the call service while making call on different places and direct the service providers to make necessary improvement in the phone calls. Such data will be displayed in the Nepal’s map as well.

NTA established free Wi-Fi Zone in premises of Singha Durbar, Padma Kanya Campus, Sankar Dev Campus and Sanchargram. Likewise, it is working to establish the Wi-Fi Zone in Everest Base Camp, Annapurna Circuit and religious shrines too.

The density of telephone service at present in the country has reached 126.72 percent while that of broadband service reached 74.43 percent. It implemented Cyber By-Laws 2077 to stop cyberattack and challenges in telecommunication sector. It implemented a provision of dialing the same number to check balance, recharge balance etc irrespective to customers of different service providers.

Policy Level Work Implemented in FY 2020/21

For institutional improvement of the NTA, the authority formulated the new committee. In order to manage the further works of the authority; it implemented the Telecommunication Authority (work completion) Regulation, 2019.

We implemented work procedure of online Office Management System Operation, 2019 for making the work more transparency. It also implemented Cyber Security Regulation, 2020 for minimizing the increasing cyber risk.

NTA also implemented a regulation, 2019 related to follow terms and conditions while operating Wi-Fi hotspot. The regulation related to construction of telecommunication tower to avoid destruction caused by the construction of the tower also came to an effect. NTA (trading of the share of the licensed people) regulation, 2019 to allow sale or purchase of the shares only after assuring income of the profit and other charges to be submitted to the government also got implemented.

Similarly, a work procedure 2019 related to the purchase of electronic goods and service through mobile balance came into an effect. It also implemented an Online Child Security Directive 2019 to protect children from risk of online and regulation 2019 related to improve transparency and management to the work of registration of the import of telecommunication equipment and foreign exchange.

NTA also implemented regulation related to protect common people and workers from the electronic magnetic rays (EMR) produced by mobile towers and implemented service operation of internet, email related regulation.

NTA made a provision for all telecommunication service providers to sale only two sim cards or rim/card to the single person to manage the sim distribution and minimize crime caused by misuses the mobile sim cards.

However, in case they need to sale sim cards to the children, they can provide only one sim in the name of the children on basis of the necessary documents including the certification of the children’s relation with the parents.

Tackling the Problem

Due to the pandemic, it has been difficult for NTA to import, install and operate the equipment to provide the service as a result the telecommunication service extension has been affected. There is a monopoly in the sector in absence of the policy and law related to its merger and acquisition/cross holding.

Because of not having any regulation for establishing a independent infrastructure development company, there has been double investment in the infrastructure construction. Such companies can manage the cable wires pegged improperly in the country’s main cities.

Since the telecommunication act has not been amendment for a long time, there occurred a problem of entry barrier due to which new entrance could not appeared here and it is also being difficult to cover the dues of Nepal government because of the sustaining oneself with the license.

Installation of broadband is affected after the inter authorities increased its price in contrast to the government’s policy to lower the price of broadband service. Since last one year, the Supreme Court has not come to any conclusion to the NTA’s appeal of repeating the judgement on the writ petition filed by UTL on optical fiber backbone project.

Although the authority recommended some solutions to solve the problem, the ministry could not make any conclusion for some issues likes clarity on renewal rate after 15 years in policy level, providing license to independent telecommunication infrastructure providers.

The issues which were recommended to Frequency Policy Determination Committee such as making neutral to 900 MHz band to make the environment to expand the 4G service across the country as per the frequency policy, testing frequency for 5G services, determining frequency for IOT and M2M etc are still in limbo.

It is still unclear about the permission for Ultra Wide Band technology, implementation of regulation related to merger and acquisition/cross holding and work procedure related to private number management.

Also a five-year master plan for 2019-2023 AD for the development of the telecommunications sector in Nepal is also yet to be approved. The court has not made any conclusion for cyber security/cyber act and subject regarding cleaning BSS existed in 50 degree although Nepal placed in 123.3 degree orbital stall and also minimizing an impact of other nation’s filing.

NTA’s appeal for working diplomatically in establishing Nepali satellite and operating ground stations with its own full authority is yet to be discussed further.

Purushottam Khanal |
Tuesday December 1, 2020, 02:30:30 PM |

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