Kathmandu, September 26
Nepal Telecommunications Authority has classified the ‘Viber Out’ service in Nepal as illegal.
Issuing a public notice on Monday, the telecom sector regulator prohibited people from using the ‘Viber Out’ service of the famous application Viber and also warned domestic firms not to promote this service in Nepal in association with Viber.
Viber Out is a calling service of the popular instant messaging and Internet Protocol calling app Viber. It allows users to make calls to any landline or mobile phone through their smartphones even in offline mode. This service of Viber is believed to eliminate the hassles related to roaming and using local SIM during foreign travel.
Viber had launched the Viber Out service in Nepal in the last week of July.
Meanwhile, NTA has said that domestic laws have provisions to allow only IP-to-IP calls but restricts calling from IP to mobile/landlines or vice-versa.
“We have received numerous complaints regarding the increasing use of Viber Out service in Nepal though such services are illegal,” said Min Prasad Aryal, spokesperson for NTA.
According to Aryal, NTA will start inspecting the use of Viber Out service in Nepal after Dashain and take action against any user of such service or firms that are facilitating Viber to promote the service in Nepal.
According to NTA officials, any service that promotes IP to landline/mobile calls is not just illegal but also affects government’s revenue collection from the service. “Users have to recharge their Viber Out accounts through a local agent of Viber to use this service. While doing so, Viber takes a notable sum of domestic currency while the government gets nothing,” said Aryal.
Informing that NTA has received complaints that Viber Out recharge cards are also being circulated in the market, Aryal said NTA would moot action against such activities soon.
According to existing laws of the government, NTA can penalise those using Viber Out service for making calls and those firms promoting such services in Nepal up to Rs 500,000.
Viber had launched Viber Out service in Nepal following the growing use of Viber among Nepali people. It is said that there are more than 4.5 million registered users of Viber application in Nepal.
A version of this article appears in print on September 27, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.