Surging internet cost to affect National Broadband Policy target

The policy envisions to bring broadband cost below 5pc of GNI per capita

Kathmandu, July 17

Increasing internet cost in Nepal is likely to affect the country’s target to bring down broadband internet prices to or below five per cent of the gross national income (GNI) per capita by 2020.

The National Broadband Policy, 2015 has envisioned making internet services secure, reliable, widespread and affordable by bringing down entry level broadband prices in the country to five per cent or less of GNI per capita, which currently hovers at around 10 per cent of the country’s GNI per capita.

As Nepal’s current GNI per capita stands at $1,004 per annum, entry level internet service is available at around Rs 900.

However, the recent increment in the price of internet by almost 14 per cent will possibly make it difficult for the government to achieve the concerned internet broadband target.

Internet service providers (ISPs), including telecom service providers, have raised internet fees on every internet package by around 14 per cent effective from today after the government imposed 13 per cent telecommunication service charge (TSC) for ISPs from this fiscal year.

Min Prasad Aryal, spokesperson for Nepal Telecommunications Authority, said that increased price of broadband internet is not good and will definitely affect the set broadband cost target.

“The ISPs have raised the cost of internet subscription citing the hike in TSC, but it was not necessary for them to do so as the international bandwidth cost — a major determinant of broadband cost — has come down dramatically over the past few years to $8 per Mbps per month at present,” opined Aryal.

However, Aryal believes that increasing GNI per capita of the country will help the government to achieve its target to bring down broadband internet prices to or below five per cent of the GNI per capita even if ISPs do not reduce internet fees.

Meanwhile, it is to be noted that though increasing GNI per capita will assure that broadband internet is available at five per cent of GNI per capita, the target here is achieved not because internet price has come down in reality but due to increasing income and purchasing capacity of people.

ISPs have also said that increasing cost of internet is not a good sign for the country to grow technologically. “In spite of knowing the fact that raising internet fees will impede the growth of ICT industry and make government’s broadband target difficult to achieve, ISPs were compelled to hike price of internet despite public criticism,” said SudheerParajuli, former president of the Internet Service Providers’ Association of Nepal.