New firms barred from obtaining basic telephone service licence

Kathmandu, July 24

Just six days after the Ministry of Information and Communications endorsed country’s Radio Frequency Policy, the ministry today suddenly removed a clause of the amended policy barring new companies from obtaining unified licence for basic telephone service.

Talking to this daily, Digambar Jha, Chairman of the Nepal Telecommunication Authority, confirmed that he received a letter from the ministry, stating that ‘a provision to issue the unified licence’ was scrapped.

The move has also put an end to the entry of potential competitive companies. It was only in favour of a few service providers that are also preparing to be merged having a large radio frequency and was against growth of the state-owned Nepal Telecom, a source at the ministry said.

On July 18, the Radio Frequency Policy Determination Committee chaired by Minister for Information and Communications Sherdhan Rai had endorsed the Radio Frequency (Pricing and Distribution) Policy mentioning in its Clause 6 that NTA shall invite the service providers to submit a detailed service extension plan within a month from the date of the commencement of the policy to obtain the unified licence for the basic services.

“Then NTA will grant a minimum frequency as prescribed in the law by issuing such unified licence, consistent with the detailed extension plan,” it added.

But the ministry informed that Clause 6 was removed from the policy, NTA chairman said. According to him, the letter sent to NTA says, “It has been corrected for its meaning otherwise.”

Jha also admitted that the ministry took the decision without holding a meeting of the committee. According to him, the committee comprises secretaries from the Defence, Home Affairs, Tourism and Civil Aviation and Information and Communications ministries as its members.

On July 19, the ministry also handed over the amended policy document to all telecom service providing companies urging all to abide by its provisions.