ISPs threaten to hike charges

Kathmandu, January 19

Domestic internet service providers (ISPs) have said that the internet cost will go up if Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) raises the tariff for ISPs for using its electricity poles.

Citing that NEA has ‘unscientifically’ raised the fees that it charges the ISPs for the use of its electricity poles, the internet service providers have urged the authority to roll back its decision as soon as possible. Earlier, NEA had decided to raise such fees for ISPs from this fiscal year itself and the authority is preparing to implement the decision soon. However, ISPs have said that NEA has increased the fee for using its electricity poles without consulting them and this will not be acceptable to the internet service providers.

“NEA has increased such fee by almost 500 per cent for ISPs and this is completely unscientific,” said Bhoj Raj Bhatta, president of Internet Service Providers Association, adding that internet fee is bound to increase by 50 per cent if NEA unilaterally tries to implement its decision.

Citing that the ‘unscientific’ rise in fees for the use of poles by ISPs will directly affect thousands of internet users, ISPs have urged Nepal Electricity Authority to review its decision. Meanwhile, ISPs have also requested the Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology to facilitate process.

Meanwhile, Bhatta said that the government should form a high-level task force to deal with the aforementioned issue and also discuss on resolving various challenges in the country’s internet industry. “The task force should come out with a scientific fare that NEA should levy on ISPs for using the power utility’s electricity poles,” said Bhatta.

Moreover, ISPs also said that such irresponsible decisions from NEA will also affect the target of National Broad Band Policy to make internet cheaper and also hinder government’s plan of building a ‘Digital Nepal’.

Meanwhile, NEA has charged that ISPs have been overlooking the wire management in electricity poles and have not seriously taken the authority’s direction to manage wires across electricity poles they have been using to supply internet. However, ISPs said that they have already started the wire management process and it will be completed shortly.