NT lags behind Ncell in number of active SIM users, revenue

Kathmandu, January 20

Nepal Telecom (NT) has been found to be lagging behind private telecom operator Ncell in terms of active SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) users and revenue generation.

Statistics of Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) reveal that Ncell exceeds NT in terms of active SIM users by almost four million. As per NTA data, there are 11 million active subscribers of Ncell SIM across the country against only seven million of NT.

NTA, the country's telecom sector regulator, had carried out a one-day cross-monitoring of active users of both Ncell and Nepal Telecom in October.

However, NT is ahead of Ncell in terms of total SIM distribution till date. While NT has distributed 15.7 million SIM cards, Ncell has distributed only 14.9 million SIM cards.

It is interesting to note that though NT has distributed more SIM cards than Ncell, it actually has lesser number of active callers.

The government has 91.49 per cent share in NT.

Nepal Telecom also lags behind Ncell in terms of proper use of frequencies provided by NTA to generate revenue.

According to Digambar Jha, chairman of NTA, NT was able to generate only Rs 40 billion revenue using frequencies under different bandwidth in the last fiscal year, while private operator Ncell generated revenue of Rs 56 billion in the same year though Ncell has been assigned limited frequency by the government.

NTA has provided 70 MHz frequency to NT on different frequency band while Ncell enjoys only 29 MHz frequency under different frequency band.

Meanwhile, Nepal Telecom’s share in overall telecommunication services is better than Ncell's. According to the telecom regulator, NT and Ncell dominate the telecommunication market of Nepal with 48 per cent and 45 per cent share, respectively.

"This figure of active SIM subscribers of NT and Ncell might not be exact but it demonstrates the general trend. However, we can generalise from annual revenue of these two companies that Ncell has more active SIM users," said Jha, adding that NTA is preparing to carry out a week-long analysis of active SIM users of both companies to find out the exact difference in active SIM subscribers.

NTA officials also said that NT is probably lagging behind in output due to ineffective network planning, use of technology and marketing.

NT officials, however, opined that the actual number of active subscribers has to be obtained after analysing the trend for a longer period of time.

"The number of active users keeps fluctuating. Thus, we will have to take data for more number of days before generalising the actual number of active SIM subscribers," Shovan Adhikari, joint spokesperson for NT said.

When queried on low annual revenue, Adhikari said that NT—being a government company—is obliged to maintain low tariff rates for customers.

Meanwhile, mobile penetration in Nepal has exceeded 110 per cent today in terms of number of SIM cards registered. However, it does not fully reflect the actual per cent of people with mobile phone subscription as people often have more than one SIM card under their name.