KATHMANDU – Digitalization is advancing at a rapid pace throughout the world. Perhaps, Nepalis slightly behind in the digitalization race. However, all of us stakeholders have joined the race and we should not be disappointed with the achievements we have made in recent years.
As the regulatory body of the telecommunications sector, our aim is to either include all Nepalese in its network or ensure that no citizen is deprived of its use.Not more than 10 years ago, telecommunication services were used only for voice and SMS services.But today, broadband services have become an integral part of our lives. Many countries around the world have declared it as a Fundamental Right to ensure the access of citizens to broadband services and the day seems not so far when the Government of Nepal also declares Internet service as an essential service.
The demand for digital products and services is growing day by dayin Nepal. Online delivery of public services is on the rise and its demand is also increasing. For this, regulatory bodies, service providers, and policy makers should work together to ensure overall broadband service connections.
Currently, about 99% service users are mobile broadband usersand 30% are fixed broadband usersin Nepal. Because of the geography of country, mobile broadband expansion seems to be the best option for rural areas.
By the end of 2022 BS, we aim to expand the 4G service and the Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA) has implemented infrastructure sharing regulations to facilitate it. In order to reduce the tariff of internet service, efforts like access to submarine cable, construction of virtual landing station, installation of additional Internet Exchange Point (IXP) have been started.This will reduce the expenses of service providers in the infrastructure construction and will further encourage them in service expansion, which will be more effective and helpful in reducing service cost.
NTA has mobilized the Rural Telecommunication Development Fund and expanded the internet infrastructure to every local level. Apart from the Kathmandu Valley, Broadband services have been provided to a total of 16,141 places including 706 local level offices, 5,899 ward offices, 5,299 community secondary schools, 4,237 community health posts / centers / hospitals.
Similarly, in collaboration with all the local levels, broadband services are being provided to all the basic community schools in the state within the next fiscal year. Broadband service is also beingupgraded even in 8 earthquake affected districts. This has made internet access possible in every home and the expansion of mobile services has also made mobile phones possible in every citizen’s hands.
Service expansion alone is not sufficient without improving the quality of telecommunication services. The Quality of Service also cannot be compromised upon. We conduct regular drive tests in Kathmandu and the results are not often satisfying. I urge service providers to improve upon their service delivery.
We have also setup a grievance management system where consumers can register their complaint regarding service. We are in the works to increase the frequency of these drive tests and expand drive tests to other major cities as well.All service providers should mandatorilyprovide a toll-free number to the consumers so that they can easily lodge their grievances free of cost.Similarly, the consumers can lodge their complaints through mobile apps, telephone, email and social media.
There is no doubt that the basic foundation of digitalization is to ensure the access of all citizens to quality broadband services.As we discuss the potentials of digital transformation today, I implore service providers and all ICT stakeholders to think of all citizens regardless of their geographical status.
Based on remarks made by Purushottam Khanal, Chairman of Nepal Telecom Authority at Huawei Digital Nepal Conclave