NTA to issue separate licences to MVAS providers

Kathmandu, January 17

Mobile Value Added Service (MVAS) providers in Nepal will soon have to take operational licence from Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA).

Currently, MVAS service providers are delivering their services in association with telecom operators, where the telecom operators need to seek permission from NTA before allowing MVAS firms to deliver such services.

MVAS refers to all non-core services in the telecommunication sector beyond standard voice calls and fax transmissions. It includes non-core telecommunication services like ringtone, music download, SMS based news/information, mobile banking, mobile commerce, mobile governance, mobile education, mobile health services, load shedding routine and callback tone, among others.

Different organisations are providing these mobile phone-based services to customers via SMS, Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) and General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), among others.

NTA has prepared a consultation paper on licensing provisions to open Mobile Value Added Services in Nepal with mandatory provision for MVAS providers to take licences from NTA, and the telecommunication sector regulator has shared the paper with stakeholders for feedback.

“We will entertain feedback on the paper for next one month and will incorporate the feedback in the draft of MVAS directive before sending it to the Cabinet for endorsement,” said Min Prasad Aryal, spokesperson for NTA, adding that provision of separate licence for MVAS operators is being introduced to regulate the MVAS industry of the country.

Though NTA does not have exact number of MVAS service providers in the country, Aryal believes there are hundreds of such firms in operation. “As MVAS is becoming highly popular in Nepal, there is a need to develop relevant regulatory framework, rules and regulations to regulate the MVAS sector,” said Aryal.

However, MVAS providers that are currently providing services to customers can continue to provide their services without obtaining a licence for up to one year after this provision comes into effect. Such firms will have to acquire MVAS licence within a year and in case of failing to do so, the NTA will penalise such firms and may even restrict their services if deemed necessary.

Meanwhile, telecom operators with valid mobile licences do not need to need to apply for MVAS licence. According to NTA, they are authorised to provide MVAS to their customers under existing licensing conditions.