Kathmandu, May 24
Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) has granted 4G (fourth generation) licence to private telecom company Smart Telecom.
The NTA board meeting on Sunday decided to permit Smart Telecom to launch 4G service in Nepal from July 30 under the technology neutral spectrum. Along with this, Smart Telecom has become the third telecom operator in the country to have received 4G licence from NTA after Nepal Telecom and Ncell.
“We have authorised Smart Telecom to launch 4G service within its existing 1800 MHz frequency under the technology neutrality principle,” informed NTA Spokesperson Min Prasad Aryal.
As envisioned by the Frequency Policy of 2016, technology neutrality refers to a provision that allows operators to launch any new technology (services) in its existing frequency brands.
However, NTA has granted 4G licence to Smart Telecom on condition that the telecom company clears all its telecommunications dues like frequency fees, renewal fee and royalty fee to the government within July 30. While allowing Smart Telecom to operate 4G service, NTA has also asked the telecom company to expand 4G service across the country gradually and submit the 4G operation report to NTA every three months.
Submitting its 4G rollout plan in December last year, Smart Telecom had said it would start 4G service in major cities like Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, Pokhara, Birgunj and Bhairahawa, among others after getting the 4G licence from NTA.
Of the three telecom companies that have acquired 4G licence from NTA, Smart Telecom has the lowest market share in domestic telecommunications industry of less than one per cent. Nepal Telecom and Ncell have 48 per cent and 45 per cent market share, respectively, in telecommunication industry of Nepal.
Aryal said that allowing different operators to provide 4G service would ensure healthy competition and compel operators to maintain quality in 4G service. “By allowing operators to adopt new technological advancements in the telecommunication sector, NTA plans to achieve its target of expanding broadband facility to every village by 2020.”
There are six telecom operators in the country, namely Nepal Telecom, Ncell, Smart Telecom, United Telecom, Nepal Satellite Telecom and STM Telecom. While NTA is yet to decide over giving 4G licence to United Telecom, Nepal Satellite Telecom and STM Telecom have not shown interest in launching 4G service.
Nepal Telecom had first started 4G service in Nepal from January 1 after NTA’s authorisation. Despite the controversies surrounding Ncell, NTA had allowed it in the first week of May to launch 4G telecom service in the country from June 1.
A version of this article appears in print on May 25, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.