Tepid growth in 4G service subscription

Kathmandu, June 23

Though different telecom companies have introduced the 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) service with much fanfare in the country, there has been tepid growth in the subscription of 4G service by mobile phone users.

Nepal Telecom (NT) had first introduced 4G service for its post-paid SIM users of Kathmandu Valley and Pokhara on January 1 and the company had rolled out the service for its pre-paid SIM users on February 4.

However, only 7,729 post-paid SIM subscribers and 508,500 pre-paid SIM subscribers of NT have switched to 4G service in Kathmandu Valley and Pokhara till date. The 4G subscription figure is comparatively low as NT has more than four million pre-paid SIM users and 350,000 post-paid SIM users in Kathmandu Valley and Pokhara.

“Subscription to 4G service is growing but very slowly. This might be due to affordability factor as internet services are comparatively costly in Nepal,” said Min Prasad Aryal, spokesperson for Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA), adding that Nepali mobile phone users are also left with less option regarding internet content.

As Nepal is still in the infancy phase of digitisation, Aryal opined that people are less friendly to internet and its multi-dimensional use.

“The concepts of e-governance, e-medicine, e-commerce and e-agriculture, among others, have to be practiced in Nepal and internet content should be generated accordingly to encourage people towards internet. This is how people will start consuming telecom and internet services,” Aryal added.

As per NTA, the tepid growth of 4G subscription is also due to limitation of frequency spectrum to telecom companies. As a result of limited frequency to telecom operators, they have been able to provide only 30 mbps internet speed on 4G service though 4G should have around 90 mbps internet speed.

Shovan Adhikari, deputy spokesperson for NT, said that 4G subscription is directly related to the availability of 4G compatible mobile sets in the country and internet content. “We have low internet content and every subscriber does not carry a 4G compatible phone. The 4G subscription rate will surge along with an increase in the number of 4G compatible devices and internet content,” he said.

“Though 4G subscription growth is not overwhelming, it is growing satisfactorily,” added Adhikari.

Similarly, private telecom company Ncell, which launched its 4G service on May 31, has been encouraging its subscribers to switch to 4G service. As only new SIM subscribers of Ncell — with the Axiata logo — can subscribe to 4G service,

the company has been making subscribers’ old SIM cards compatible to 4G free of cost through different Ncell outlets.