Kathmandu, September 24

The government has allowed and directed Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) to open up the licensing process for new telecom companies and telecom infrastructure sharing companies. The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MoCIT) on Sunday wrote a letter to NTA asking it to restart its works.

Apparently, a Cabinet meeting on April 26 had asked Nepal Telecommunications Authority to stop all its works as it had decided to cancel all the appointments made by the previous government of Sher Bahadur Deuba.

“The Cabinet meeting on Friday has asked NTA to now resume all the works that had been shelved due to the earlier decision,” said Ramchandra Dhakal, joint secretary at MoCIT.

Dhakal further mentioned that MoCIT has instructed NTA to start the process to provide licence to eligible new telecom companies and telecom infrastructure sharing company, to manage frequency for the companies. “The ministry has also asked the telecom regulator to go ahead with the process of laying optical fibre cables through the Rural Telecommunication Development Fund (RTDF) and plan a long-term vision.”

“We have given Digambar Jha, the newly appointed chairman of NTA, a time of 15 days to submit an action plan for the overall development of the country’s telecom sector,” said Dhakal.

Earlier, the government had formed a telecommunication sector recommendation panel led by former joint secretary of Ministry of Communication and Information Technology Surya Bahadur Raut, and comprising Auditor Kamal Kharel and MoCIT Under Secretary Anup Nepal, to submit a

report regarding Nepal’s telecommunications sector. The committee had submitted its report to MoCIT on July 16.

The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology has directed NTA to study and implement the recommendations made by the panel. “We have received a letter from MoCIT with certain instructions to follow the study panel’s suggestions,” said Jha.

“We have started homework to issue new licence to interested telecom companies and telecom infrastructure sharing company as per MoCIT’s directive,” he added. “But we need to first study the technical and financial proposals of interested companies and then only will we be able to

decide on whether we can grant a licence or not.”

Jha further said that they are committed to giving the licence to a competitive telecom infrastructure sharing company so as to reduce the cost of telecommunication services.

In December 2017, eight foreign telecommunication firms had expressed their interest to provide telecommunications infrastructure service in Nepal. As per Nepal Telecommunications Authority, the firms were from countries like the United States, India, China, Lebanon, Nigeria and Malaysia.

“As per international practice of telecom infrastructure sharing, it will reduce the cost of telecom services by around 33 per cent, which will consequently reduce the cost of telecommunication services for consumers,” Jha added.