KATHMANDU: Nepal Satellite Telecom (NST) Pvt Ltd soft-launched its GSM service today.

Launching the Hello Nepal brand, former prime ministers Girija Prasad Koirala and Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' made a conference call from Kathmandu and Rolpa. CPN-UML general secretary Ishwor Pokharel also made a conference call from Dang.

The new telecom service provider has promised to provide voice and data services. According to NST executive director Ajeya Raj Sumargi, NST will start its operation in the rural areas and will launch its GSM service within a year in Kathmandu Valley.

NST, whose number starts with 963, will start its services in 273 village development committees (VDCs).

Mukti Shree Telecom (Nepal), Sewa Telecom Pvt Ltd (Bangladesh), Pakistan Mobile Communication (Pakistan) and Air Bell Company (Cyprus) are the major investors in NST.

It has Basic Telecommunication Service license under which it also has license for limited mobility service -- only for landlines.

NST got its license on February 17, 2008 and according to the licence it has to start its services from the Mid-western region, followed by Far-western Region, Western region and only after that it can bring its service to Kathmandu Valley. It is also planning to bring international gateway, CDMA and landline PSTN services in the near future.

Meanwhile, there are already three players in the market -- Nepal Telecom (NT), Spice Nepal and United Telecom Ltd (UTL). Among them, NT plans to distribute 2.2 million GSM mobile SIM cards in the fiscal year 2009-10, increase the number of CDMA customers to 0.4 million and add 50,000 more land line services. According to NTA data of last May, Spice Nepal has service penetration of one in 100 population. Spice has market share of 40.27 per cent and NT 59.73 per cent.

Nepal's fixed line base reached 812,615 in August and the number of mobile users topped 5.59 million.

Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) has published its latest 'Management Information System' report for the period ended 14 August 2009, showing the country was home to a total of 812,615 fixed line users. Of the total, 563,127 lines were PSTN connections for incumbent operator Nepal Doorsanchar Company Limited (NDCL, or Nepal Telecom) while the remainder were wireless in the local loop (WiLL) connections for Nepal Telecom (177,265), United Telecom Limited (68,163) and STM Telecom (4,060). Fixed teledensity stood at 2.95 per cent at the end of the period, the regulator said.

In the mobile segment, Nepal Telecom again led the way with more than 3.169 million GSM users, ahead of Spice Nepal's base of 1.873 million while CDMA (Sky Phone) services rendered Nepal Telecom a further 555,338 connections and helped pushed cellular penetration to 20.35 per cent by 14 August. NTA also reported a smattering of 'other' mobile users, including limited mobility (85,577), GMPCS (1,517) and W-CDMA (683).

Meanwhile, in the data services market, Nepal, or more specifically Nepal Telecom, had 15,561 ADSL connections at the end of the review period as well as 50,400 registered GPRS customers and 3,283 CDMA 1x subscribers, while United Telecom and Spice Nepal counted 24,823 and 332,428 CDMA 1x users respectively.

NT balance transfer service resumes

KATHMANDU: Nepal Telecom (NT) has resumed its balance transfer service that had halted due to technical glitches. Due to technical problem, NT halted balance transfer facility in GSM prepaid mobile service halted since July 7. NT users were suffering due to the message delivery system also. Users were faced with the problems like the same message delivering a number of times and some messages not getting delivered or stored. — HNS