Kathmandu, August 25
The government has started the process of delivering free internet services in public places in Kathmandu Valley by year-end.
With a view to increase people’s access to internet and technology, Nepal Telecommunications Authority — the telecoms sector regulator of the country — recently sought proposals from domestic internet service providers to
develop internet broadband network and deliver free internet service in the country’s administrative hub Singha Durbar, areas around Media Village at Sinamangal and Padma Kanya Multiple Campus in Dillibazar.
The selected ISP will have to start delivering free internet service in these places within two months of being awarded the contract by NTA and the service must be extended for a period of at least two years as stated in the Request for Application.
As per NTA, ISPs can submit their proposals by September 18.
This government project of delivering free internet access in public places is certain to woo ISPs, as NTA will fully finance this project. As per NTA officials, this project will be awarded to ISPs on ‘low cost subsidy’ basis, meaning that the lowest bidding proposal will be awarded the project and it will be fully funded.
NTA plans to fund this project through the Rural Telecommunication Development Fund, which has over Rs 15 billion that has not been utilised. As mandated by the Telecommunication Act of 1997, NTA collects two per cent of the gross adjusted revenue from service providers for RTDF.
The RfA also states that the ISP that wins the contract to deliver free internet in the aforementioned areas will be able to charge customers after two years, but at a ‘minimum rate fixed by the NTA.
However, NTA has left the option to the concerned ISP to deliver free internet in such places either by creating hot spots or directly laying fibre cables.
Delivering free internet service in public places across major cities of the country is one of the chief projects of NTA for the ongoing fiscal. “We are giving free internet facility in the three aforementioned places in the first phase. We will then gradually expand this facility to other public places in the Valley and across the country,” said Min Prasad Aryal, spokesperson for NTA.
Aryal believes that delivering free internet in public places will contribute to increasing people’s access to internet and promoting the concept of digital Nepal.
According to NTA’s Management Information System report of 2016, almost 58 per cent of the population in Nepal has access to the internet.
A version of this article appears in print on August 26, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.