KATHMANDU: A total of 13 international firms have shown interest to assist Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) in devising plans to utilise Rural Telecommunication Development Fund (RTDF) to expand telecom services in remote parts of the country.
The authority is evaluating the expressions of interest (EoIs) submitted by the international consulting firms to shortlist them and issue request for proposal (RfP). “We’re in final stage of evaluating the EoIs of 13 IT consulting firms,” said Achyuta Nanda Mishra, assistant spokesperson for NTA.
The firms applying to be the consultant of NTA are from India, USA, UK, Canada, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates, according to Mishra.
As per the terms of references, a consultant to be hired will be required to identify rural areas of the country and technologies to be taken there by investing resources from the RTDF. It will also prepare tender documents for selecting firms, which will be responsible to carry out the projects.
The consultant will analyse and define models for different types of services, recommend strategic plan and business cases, suggest the operating and financial model and define the implementation and monitoring plan, among others, according to NTA. The RTDF bylaw holds the NTA responsible to utilise the fund involving the existing telecom companies through competitive least subsidy basis.
NTA has so far collected around Rs 10 billion in the RTDF. However, the resource is yet to be utilised as there is no concrete plan on how to use it. ‘District Level Optical Fibre Network Project’, ‘Connect a School, Connect a Community Project’, ‘Making ICT Accessible for the Disabled People’ and ‘Establishment and Operation of Mobile Tower with Mandatory Provision for Sharing’ are the projects that NTA is considering to develop through financing from the RTDF.
Originally, NTA had devised a plan to carry out district optical fibre project in 2009 and complete it in 2014. After the April 25 quake and its impact on telecommunications infrastructure in 14 most affected districts, the government is also planning to use the RTDF money to build mobile towers in the districts and start implementing infrastructure sharing provision.
Along with the increase in income of companies, including major telecom companies, the size of resource in the RTDF is also growing each year. Telecommunication Act requires all licensees of NTA to contribute two per cent of their annual income from services to this fund, which was established for the development, extension and operation of telecom services in rural and remote areas, where service expansion is not commercially viable.