STM phone network found faulty

Bimal Pradhan

Ilam, January 12:

Telephone lines, being operated under the Satellite Telephone Management (STM) system in rural areas of Ilam district, are not working effectively. Under the STM system, each of the 24 VDCs have been provided with two telephone lines, that worked perfectly for a week. Since then, they have been working for only two hours a day, complained operators of the telephone lines.

Indra Chapagai of the Soyang, who has one such line in his home, said, “I spent Rs 45,000 on getting the line, yet it does not work well now. There are 48 persons like me in Ilam. All the telephone lines in the district are not giving regular service. Besides, we have been receiving complaints that the service charge is very high.” he said, “The telephone works one day in a week, that too with disturbances whereas the fee is Rs 12 for each minute. There is no rebate even on local calls.” The Maoists have seized four lines in Samalbung and Shantipur, whereas one line in Ranke of Chamaita has been confiscated by security forces. The STM company, which received the permit to install 500 telephone lines in different places of the eastern zone, promised connections from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm with the help of solar power; the electricity backing can give the 24 hour service.

We are receiving services only for two hours from 12:00 to 2:00 pm, said another operator, Nanda Prasad Adhikari. “Nobody is satisfied with the service. We are just indebted because of this telephone line”, he added. The STM has bought only 22 circuit lines from Nepal Telecom for distribution and the problem came up as it could not provide access everywhere, said technicians. The Rs 12 charge per minute even for local call is adding to the problem. Maoists have already threatened that they will seize all lines if the rate does not come down to Nepal Telecom rate, operators said. Operators in a meeting decided that they will soon meet STM representatives to end the problem.