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KATHMANDU: Nepal Telecom (NT) launched Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) service for the first time in 2072 BS. When I joined NT as managing director in Paush 23, 2075, there were around 1,200 customers of FTTH while the demand for FTTH service has increased notably in last few years.
As of today, there are over 160,000 FTTH connections across the country despite the fact that service expansion in the telecommunication sector got affected largely by the Covid-19 pandemic. Beside this, NT is also obliged to call international tender for every component, follow Public Procurement Act, company’s bylaws and other guidelines.
The Covid-19 affected our service expansion in multiple ways. Our workers could not go to the field due to restricted mobility, we could not go for new connections of FTTH at customer’s home due to fear of transmitting infection and even the supply chain of required equipment for FTTH expansion was affected as most of the equipment has to be imported. In spite of all these, the demand for NT’s FTTH in the domestic market was growing and monthly connection of our FTTH is very good compared to other service providers.
There were three factors that resulted to limited connection of FTTH in the initial years of launching this service. The first factor is that majority of procurement-related activities initiated by NT then were unsuccessful, including tender process. Secondly, people were unaware that Nepal Telecom is catering FTTH service. Promotion of NT’s FTTH was much ineffective as our friends were limited to banners and hoarding board activities to promote this service. Lastly, our technical team for FTTH connection during then were working on traditional copper network. They had limited knowledge on splicing fibre, terminating fibre and recording its fault.
NT then started training its technical teams dealing with FTTH expansion. During then, a FTTH expansion team of NT would hardly connect five new FTTH subscribers. However, a team today connects up to 40 new FTTH subscribers. As the result, even NT’s ADSL network worked far better when there were problem witnessed in fibre network of other service providers during initial days of the first lockdown. And FTTH service of NT was far better.
Subsequently, NT’s FTTH got popular by word of mouth from people to people. A message was disseminated among people that NT’s FTTH has no problem and is the best. Today, people are requesting for NT’s FTTH connections at the earliest. People are every day visiting NT offices seeking FTTH connection.
With growing demand for NT’s FTTH, we have given top priority to ensure quality in FTTH. In a bid to maintain quality of our FTTH network, we take FTTH cables up to the customer’s residence through underground unlike other operators who are expanding fibre network by hanging cables here and there. As we are focusing on quality which has consumed our time, we are also receiving complaints that NT’s FTTH expansion is slower. This is true to some extent as we are focusing on development of quality FTTH network. Once our networks are ready, there will not be problem in quality. We have been developing international standard FTTH network keeping in mind robustness of the network, reliability and beauty of city areas.
As of today, we have already connected FTTH across 160,000 houses across the country. Along with this, we have already concluded digital mapping to expand FTTH service to 900,000 houses and more than 500,000 FTTH lines are ready for distribution.
We have been giving voice, data and television service (HD quality) within the FTTH network. Our FTTH network has adopted multi-casting system. This ensures that there is no network congestion despite increment in customer base. NT’s FTTH has become so popular that customers are seen purchasing/renewing one month fibre package of other service providers instead of purchasing/renewing larger package after knowing that NT is expanding its FTTH in their locality within couple of months.
Most importantly, other operators had been selling fibre-based internet to customers at up to Rs 40,000 per year citing different speeds. After NT brought its FTTH, we have been giving the service at up to Rs 9,000 per year with minimum speed of 10Mbps. Interestingly, we are receiving feedbacks that there is no significant difference in NT’s 10 Mbps speed and 40Mbps speed provided by other service providers in fibre net.
Similarly, after NT went aggressive in FTTH expansion and provided the fibre net service at low cost, other service providers have brought down fibre net cost to customers to almost 10,000 per year. This showed that NT’s presence in the market and its quality services at affordable rate has intervened the market. As the result of this intervention of Nepal Telecom, general public have been getting fibre net and other services at cheaper rate.
-Adhikari is the managing director at Nepal Telecom.
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