Broadband to be accessible in rural areas within a year: NTA

Kathmandu, June 27

Broadband internet service is all set to be accessible in all the rural areas of all seven provinces within one year. Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) — telecom sector regulator — has said that within a year broadband service will be accessible in every district headquarter, municipality, rural municipality, government education institution, health institution and public areas, among others.

As per the target of the government to connect all local units with wired or wireless broadband service in the National Broadband Policy, two projects are ongoing at present. The policy focuses on broadband infrastructure development and increasing access to high-speed internet services. Utilising the Rural Telecommunication Development Fund (RTDF), the NTA is working on two projects — Information Highway Construction and Broadband Access Network Project.

Among these two, the second project is about to be completed. The RTDF was set up by NTA as per a provision in the Telecommunications Act-1997. According to the act, telecom operators are required to deposit two per cent of their annual income to the fund every year.

“Compared to the previous days, work on making broadband service accessible has gathered pace in recent times,” said Min Prasad Aryal, spokesperson for NTA.

According to him, related work in eight districts of Karnali Province has been completed so far while work in other areas will be completed within one year. As per Aryal, around Rs 21 billion has been collected so far in the RTDF.

NTA has awarded different packages of the projects to three telecommunication service providers — Nepal Telecom (NT), United Telecom Ltd (UTL) and Smart Telecom. State-owned NT has been awarded with the package of building district optical network service for Provinces 1, 2, and 3. The agreement for the same was signed between NT and NTA on September 28, 2016.

While the work progress of NT and Smart Telecom has been satisfactory, the package handed over to UTL has been facing a few hurdles.

“We have been conducting follow-ups quite frequently, so, hopefully the work progress of UTL will also gather pace soon,” Aryal said. The privately-owned UTL has received the package for Gandaki Province and Province 5. NTA signed a contract with UTL for the works costing Rs 2.01 billion on May 7, 2017.

Similarly, another privately-owned operator, Smart Telecom, has bagged the packages for Karnali Province and Sudur Paschim Province. NTA signed a contract for the Rs three

billion-package with Smart Telecom on July 18, 2017.