KATHMANDU – Nepal Telecom (Ntc) kickstarted the fifth-generation mobile network 5G for the first time in Nepal, with a trial network. The government-backed operator brought mobile network’s greatest current network live on its 19th anniversary on Magh 22, 2079.
The company’s 5G project has been backed by Huawei, the world’s leading telecom gears vendor which has also been a key architect in the development of Nepal’s telecommunication sector. The Chinese tech giant has been pivotal in launching many of the ‘first time in Nepal’ tech. Prior to this, Huawei has helped Nepal launch 4G, Intelligent Network (IN), IVR, IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) in IP telephony, 2G GSM & CDMA network and more.
Huawei’s presence in Nepal now dates 22 long years and continues to strengthen to date brining more newer services for Nepali consumers. It’s 4G network portfolio has also been the key behind the widespread expansion of Nepal Telecom’s 4G service.
At the moment, Ntc 5G will be available to a select devices from brands such as Huawei, Xiaomi, and Vivo handsets. The government-backed carrier had earlier canceled its January 1-scheduled trial start citing lack of compatible devices. Huawei-backed Ntc 5G will help reveal how the prospects look for the high-speed network and devise a blueprint for its commercial rollout later.
Ntc starts 5G Trial in Nepal
Talking about Ntc’s road to the 5G, the telco has used Huawei’s radio equipment for this trial network launch in Kathmandu and will also continue the same across the country. “Huawei is honored to support Nepal on building Network infrastructure. With the Mission of “In Nepal, for Nepal”, Huawei is committed to providing high-quality network connectivity for over 30 million people across the country; Huawei will be continuously investing on enhancing Rural Universal Coverage, 4G/5G Connections, Digital Government and Local ICT Talents Development to accelerate Nepal Digital Transformation,” said Huawei.
Ntc 5G goes live
2 years after getting the spectrum for its 5G trial, the telco finally switched on its 5G network. The company received 60 MHz bandwidth in the 2600 MHz frequency from regulator NTA in November, 2021 after submitting its work plan in June same year.
The 2600 MHz band frequency is one of the most used airwaves internationally for the advanced network. Ntc will leverage the benefit of the mid-band 5G frequency during the trial period but it’s almost certain that the telco will use mid-band spectrum 5G for commercial roll-out too, for which license, spectrum needs to be awarded by the regulator.
There are many players which work on the development of 5G but companies such as Huawei and Qualcomm has been tangibly working on the fundamentals of it from 2015. For its part, Huawei started 5G work from 2009 and since has been a key in driving 5G development.
The company even setup 5G product line for 5G network in 2016 when much of the world was just studying the next-generation wireless technology. Coming to 2023, Huawei is the world’s leading 5G gear provider with the most funds for its 5G R&D and the highest number of 5G patents.
As the successor to 4G, the fifth-generation mobile network is required to meet the growing demands of modern-day internet use. Besides data, 5G will have a wide-spanning application in many commercial sectors. 5G will be helpful for IoT, M2M, AI, AR/VR, Smart Home, telehealth, education, and many parts of life. In essence, 5G will be key driver of modern tech transformation.
The road ahead after 5G trial
5G era has begun in Nepal thanks to Ntc, and will lead the next era of digital transformation over the next years. However, there are challenges. As with 4G, 5G won’t be available to all too soon. The trial will happen for a year and the trial result shall help the telco to build its plan/architecture for commercial 5G rollout. We can’t rule out the lack of 5G-compatible devices for a few more years though the ecosystem is growing.
Though the telco’s 4G network coverage has reached to 98% local levels, the unavailability of 4G to every nook and corner can’t be overlooked. In fact, work on 4G service improvements should continue from coverage to experience and affordability. The popular broadband network still has 14 local levels to reach to.
In the meantime, major Nepali telcos- Ntc, and Ncell have both launched Voice over LTE (VoLTE) in Nepal. And with many devices still limited to 4G-support, 4G will continue to remain valuable for a foreseeable future to millions of users in days to come. However, the evolution of mobile technology cannot be ignored and like the rest of the world, Nepalese will soon demand the groundbreaking technology ‘5G’ in a couple of years. For now, it’s confirmed that once elusive, 5G has well and truly begun in Nepal.
Ntc started its 5G trial from Babarmahal and Sundhara and plans to add more areas beyond Kathmandu soon. For now, the company has started its trial in non-standalone architecture with an updated core software. The road to 5G transformation begins with non-standalone architecture (NSA) which is a great initiation for a telco with a greater 4G coverage.
For now, the company will gather its data from 5G trial, analyze the result and then move to its commercial launch based on the trial result. Ntc plans to start its 5G trial soon in other provinces.