Kathmandu, July 31
Smart Telecom has sought an additional two months from the government to launch 4G telecom service in the country.
The third telecom company to acquire 4G licence from the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) after Nepal Telecom (NT) and Ncell, Smart Telecom was permitted to launch 4G services in Nepal from July 30 onwards. However, Smart Telecom submitted a letter at the NTA office a week ago stating its inability to launch the 4G service right away.
The NTA had permitted Smart Telecom to launch the 4G service from Sunday (July 30) under the technology neutral spectrum within the existing 1800 MHz bandwidth granted to the telecom operator.
“Smart Telecom has recently notified us that it needs another two months to launch 4G service. The company has said it is in the process of importing 4G-related equipment and that it plans to launch the service aggressively in the country within September,” said Min Prasad Aryal, spokesperson for NTA.
As per him, Smart Telecom has said it plans to install additional 213 4G-compatible Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) in different cities across the country within the next two months to make its 4G service more reliable.
Out of almost 350 BTS towers of Smart Telecom installed across the country, only 50 BTS towers are 4G-compatible.
As Smart Telecom has vowed to launch the 4G service aggressively covering different cities after two months, Aryal hinted that NTA would consider the proposal of the telecom operator. However, he also informed that the NTA had said Smart Telecom could launch 4G service after July 30 upon clearing its dues and was not required to roll out the service on the said date.
Sources at NTA said that Smart Telecom is yet to pay around Rs 500 million as frequency fee and renewal fee to the government. Aryal said that NTA would not allow Smart Telecom to launch 4G service unless the firm clears its dues to the government as the telecom operator is required to notify NTA before starting the service.
Meanwhile, Sabin Shrestha, chief administrative officer of Smart Telecom, informed that the company has been facing delays in launching its 4G service as it is in the process of acquiring necessary 4G equipment and installing BTS towers in different places. “We should be able to complete these processes within the next two months and launch the 4G service in Kathmandu and Pokhara,” said Shrestha.
While Smart Telecom does not offer its telecommunication services in Kathmandu Valley at present, it has already installed BTS towers in different places in the Valley and Shrestha informed that the company planned to roll out 4G service along with other telecom services in the Valley simultaneously.
Of the three telecom companies that have acquired 4G licence from NTA, Smart Telecom has the lowest market share in the domestic telecommunications industry of less than one per cent. NT and Ncell have 48 per cent and 45 per cent market share, respectively, in telecommunication industry of Nepal.
A version of this article appears in print on August 01, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.