UTL desperate to get frequency expansion, NTA down its thumb

KATHMANDU: It’s almost two years that United Telecom Ltd (UTL) requested Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA) to provide it additional frequency but nothing has happened yet. UTL general manager Madan Singh said, “It’s been ore around two years that UTL has been asking NTA to grant it two carriers but NTA has turned a deaf ear to the plea. If we don’t get frequency expansion, we cannot upgrade serivices or attract more customers.”

Singjh said to improve service quality and fulfil growing customer demand UTL needs additional frequency. Currently, it has only two frequencies of a total 2.5 Mega Hertz (MHz) — meaning one carrier has 1.25 MHz. “We have been repeatedly urging NTA and the Ministry of Information and Communications (MOIC) for additional frequency but to no avail,” said Singh adding that UTL is in an overhaul and reform process and the lack of additional is no frequency is hurting operations and business.

However, NTA director Ananda Raj Khanal scoffed at the allegations saying they were baseless. “UTL demanded the frequency when there was no frequency left. If it had asked for frequency earlier, it would have been possible but at present we lack frequency,” said Khanal. He added that NTA itself is undergoing study and observation and said, “If there is no interference between GSM900 and CDMA800 guardband after deduction of one carrier of 1.25 MHz, NTA can positively consider one more carrier for UTL.” Khanal also said that UTL is running its CDMA under 1900 band and the international power band is 800 which is more economical. He said that though there was a shortage NTA had earlier granted UTL 2 carriers from Nepal Telecom.

Singh countered, “Due to lack of frequency we are also facing a loss of Rs 250 million. As we do not have sufficient frequency, our operations are pending though our equipment

has inbuilt Evolution Data Optimisation (EVDO). We are not able to launch our service even though we have already invested Rs 250 million in equipment,” said Singh.

Established on September 17, 2003, UTL is on its way to facilitate its customers with number of services. With a total of 2.35 lakh customers till date, UTL provides the cheapest call rate to India at Rs 3 per minute excluding taxes, said Singh. It charges Rs 0.50 per SMS UTL to UTL and Rs 1 per SMS from UTL to NTC and UTL to Mero Mobile. UTL’s charge

for all non-India international call is for Rs 5 per minute, excluding taxes. UTL provides its services in 32 districts and has targeted to cover all 75 districts within six months.