NT plans big customer base hike

Kathmandu, February 5:

The state-owned telecom giant -Nepal Telecom (NT) has unveiled an ambitious plan— ‘Mission 2010’ for increasing its customer base from the current two million to seven million in the next three years.

NT plans to connect all 75 districts by wireless telephones based on CDMA technology and GSM cellular mobile phones by 2010.

The telecom has already started installation of additional 3.5 million mobiles phones and will increase CDMA lines to two million, said managing director Sugat Ratna Kansakar. NT will also execute the expansion of PSTN lines and besides value addition to the existing services. “Assessing the huge demand of CDMA phones and pre-paid mobile phones, we foresee the need for such a huge expansion plan,” Kansakar added.

Majority of the new GSM lines will be pre-paid mobile phones, which happen to be very popular among the users, said the MD. The additional CDMA lines will be mostly distributed in hilly regions to better serve the rural populace. “The main objective of the plan is to build a strong Nepal Telecom capable to serve and satisfy the growing expectations of the customers through a balance of quantitative expansion, qualitative enhancement and price comfort,” he said.

Thanks to the aggressive expansion plan, Nepal’s target of having 15 telephone lines per 100 people by 2014 is to be met seven years in advance. And, that too with more than 20 connections per 100 people. While the government’s long-term plan for telecom and IT unveiled in 2002 says there would be 15 telephone line per 100 people by 2014, NT’s Mission 2010 plans for having 20 lines per 100 people within the next three years.

Unveiling the new plan on the occasion of the fourth anniversary on Tuesday, Kansakar said that NT succeeded to increase the total tele-density to 8 per cent from a mere 2 per cent four years ago. Today, 71 districts out of 75 have connection to CDMA phones and coverage of GSM mobile phones has reached 57 districts, he said. NT has also announced a new plan to have at least two telephone lines with Internet connection to 100 remotest village development committees (VDCs) within the next five months.

When grilled on the poor quality of NT’s GSM mobile phones, Kansakar promised the service would improve by May this year as upgrading and new installation activities were underway. “There will be a visible difference within the next four months,” he said.

He further said that NT would soon come up with a plan to provide on-demand connections for GSM pre-paid and CDMA Sky phones. “We plan to start on-demand supply of new connections for Kathmandu valley within next two months,” he informed.

NT has so far distributed 2,050,728 telephone line as of mid-July 2007, including 520,000 PSTN lines, 1,219,000 GSM mobile phones and 311,000 CDMA connections.