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20 firms express interest in launching satellite for Nepal

Kathmandu, December 25, 2016: Twenty companies have expressed interest in launching satellite in the orbital position allocated to Nepal by International Telecommun-ication Union (ITU).

Responding to the expression of interest (EOI) called by Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA), three companies each from the United States, India and China, and two companies each from Singapore and Thailand have submitted proposals to NTA. Likewise, a company each from Canada, France, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Israel have also submitted the proposals, according to NTA.

“We have received EOI from 20 companies from different countries,” said NTA Director Purushottam Khanal. “We will now form a committee to evaluate the proposals and shortlist six companies.”

The authority will seek detailed proposals regarding financial and managerial plans from the six shortlisted companies before recommending three to the Ministry of Information and Communication.

“The ministry will then forward the list to the Cabinet for the appointment of one company,” said Khanal. “If everything goes as planned, the appointment will be made within 45 days.”

The authority had issued a notice seeking the EOI on October 6 after the ministry asked it to initiate the process to launch the satellite in August.

The selected company will have to prepare the modality, launch the satellite and operate and maintain it within the prescribed commercial terms and conditions.

The ministry is also devising guidelines making it mandatory for telecommunication service providers, radios and televisions to use the services of the satellite after its launch. According to Khanal, the satellite will be used for domestic consumption, and to make the launch viable, the government must include such provisions in the guidelines.

The estimated cost for the satellite launch is around Rs30 billion. Nepal needs to spend an additional Rs30 billion over the next 15 years for its operation and maintenance. Two orbital slots—50 degree east and 123.3 degree east—have been allocated to Nepal by ITU since 1984. Nepal was supposed to use the slot within 2015. However, due to lack of preparation, the country did not meet the deadline, and the government has written to ITU requesting it to maintain the assigned slots.

So far, 58 counties have launched around 1,000 satellites in the space. Russia was the first country to launch its satellite in October 1957.