Kathmandu, October 4, 2016:Â Nepal Telecom (NT) is likely to launch fourth generation (4G) mobile services in Kathmandu and Pokhara within two months. The state-run telecom service provider is in line to receive a 4G licence from the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA), the regulator of mobile service operators in the country.
NT subscribers will be able to enjoy faster and higher quality data services after 4G services start. The NTA is allowing NT to upgrade its service to 4G by adopting a technology neutrality policy. Under the technology neutrality policy, an operator can start 4G services using the existing frequency of 1800 Mhz band. NT is currently providing 3G services using this bandwidth.
On Sunday, the NTA asked NT to submit its plan to start 4G services within a week. NT said it would do so before the start of the Dashain holidays.
â€œThe NTA has asked us to submit our plan within a week, but we will send our proposal before that,â€ said Dilli Ram Adhikari, deputy spokesperson for NT. â€œWe expect to launch the first phase of 4G services in Kathmandu and Pokhara within two months.â€
According to NTA spokesperson Min Prasad Aryal, the authority will review the plan before granting a licence to NT. The telecom giant is required to provide details of its operation, phase-wise launch plan and tariff schedule for data and voice, among other details, in the plan. â€œWe will not take much time to approve the plan submitted by NT,â€ said Aryal.
Initially, NT plans to launch the service in Kathmandu and Pokhara targeting its high-end customers as data usage is very high in these cities. It will gradually expand its service to other major cities.
â€œData usage is very high in these two cities, so it will be commercially viable to launch the service in these cities in the first phase,â€ said Adhikari. â€œAlso, all mobile phones are not compatible with 4G networks. So, we have to choose major cities with high-end customers having the latest phone in the first phase.â€
According to NT, its customers will be able to enjoy high-definition video download and upload, high-definition mobile TV, video conferencing, 3D television and gaming, among others, once 4G services is in operation.
â€œOne 4G services come into operation, it will take the experience of mobile data usage to the next level as our customers can enjoy internet speed of as high as 300 Mbps compared to the existing 3 Mbps,â€ said Adhikari. â€œSimilarly, the cost of using data and even voice will go down significantly. It will revolutionize the way Nepalis use mobile internet.â€
Meanwhile, the NTA has initiated the process of awarding a 4G licence to NT, but it is yet to make a decision with regard to providing a similar licence to privately owned Ncell.
Both NT and Ncell had filed an application with NTA in July seeking permission to start 4G services from the existing frequency of 1800 Mhz bandwidth.
According to highly placed sources at the NTA, the regulator is reluctant to award a licence to Ncell due to an ongoing capital gains tax case.
â€œAs the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee has barred government agencies from awarding any kind of licence to Ncell before the capital gains tax issue is settled, we have not initiated the process,â€ said the source.
ByÂ Bibek Subedi