NT plans 6 million phone lines

Kathmandu, July 22:

The state-owned telecom giant Nepal Telecom (NT) has announced its ambitious plan of increasing six million telephone connections within three-year.

Once the plan is completed by 2010, Nepal will make a giant leap forward in total telephone connections with a four folds growth from the existing 1.6 million lines provided by NT including about 900,000 GSM mobile phones, about 145,000 CDMA-based wireless basic telephones and over 500,000 conventional PSTN lines.

Under the three-year plan, NT plans to distribute additional 3.5 million GSM mobile lines (both prepaid and post paid) and one million phones based on code division multiplexing access (CDMA) technology. The NT plans to connect the remote areas such as Karnali zone and upper Himalayan regions through V-SAT telephony system.

“Every nooks and corner of the country will have telephone connectivity,” said Sugat Ratna Kansakar, managing director at the NT adding that the necessary expansion plans have already been started. Currently, NT’s GSM mobile phone has covered 42 districts, whereas CDMA phones have reached to 70 districts out of 75 in the country.

“Nepal Telecom is the best public sector utility and the largest telecom operator that has scores of challenges ahead,” he said adding that the main challenge is to meet the unexpectedly increasing demands. “To respond to it, massive reforms are underway both on expansion of infrastructure and improving systems,” he said addressing a programme organised to mark the 16th anniversary of Nepal Telecom Workers’ Union (NTWU), in the capital today.

Earlier, the trade union leaders asked the NT management and the government to clarify its position on divestment plan, enactment of new employees’ bylaw, and introduction of new systems.

Gopal Dhakal, president of Telecom Employees Association of Nepal, warned that the telecom employees would again launch protest programmes if their concerns are not addressed properly and on time. “If the government and the management remain silent on our demands, we will launch a new series of protests beginning next month,” he said.

Dhakal asked the management and the government to immediately act on divestment plan and start five per cent share allocation for the employees of NT. He also challenged the NT management that it should not arbitrarily bring the employees’ bylaw in the name of reforms.

He also asked the concerned authorities to help in making provision of automatic transfer of all properties of the then Nepal Telecom Corporation (NTC) to NT, stating that those properties of NTC being used by others should also be brought into the NT’s right.

Meanwhile, Kumar Jung Karki, board director of NT and advisor of NTWU, said that the forthcoming employees’ bylaw would address all concerns of the employees, as it mainly focuses on increasing productivity by motivating the employees. “The new law will

be enacted with consultations of all employees union in the NT,” he said.

He further stated that the divestment plan has already started and the ministry of finance has recently called a bid tender for share allocation to the employees in the first phase. “The proposed five per cent shares allocations will be done proportionately ensuring that all employees will get an equal number of shares,” Karki said.

Krishna Bahadur Mahara, minister for information and communication also assured that the telecom expansion plan will be carried out on the basis of government’s mission of ‘internet in every household, telephones in every village and mobile phone on every hand.’ Mahara asked the trade unions and the employees to make the slogan a success.