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Internet service providers slam NEA’s proposed hike in rental charges

- KRISHANA PRASAIN, Kathmandu

May 18, 2019-

The private sector internet service providers on Friday slammed the Nepal Electricity Authority’s (NEA) proposed hike in rental charges of utility poles, stating that the move will raise the cost of fixed broadband service by more than 50 percent.

Speaking at a programme organised by Tech Journos Forum on Friday, they also criticised the public utility for ignoring the government policy which envisions high speed internet service for users across the country at low prices.

According to them, utility poles owned by the NEA carry around 80 percent of the transmission cables related to the internet, television and mobile communications. Binay Bohora, managing director of Vianet Communications said that most of the internet users prefer to use cable based internet service as it is available at low cost. “With expanded urbanisation and growing number of internet users, it has become difficult to provide services via optical fibre in all locations,” said Bohora.

The state-owned power utility had revised the charges in July last year after amending the regulation regarding optical fibre cable service 2073. Recently, it had decided to cut off the wires of cable TV and Internet service providers for failing to pay the dues for using the infrastructure of the authority. Bohora said internet service providers have been serving their customers across the country at affordable rates using the poles and fibres of the authority. In addition to these, the service providers also face low maintenance costs in this distribution system. “It has helped boost the penetration of broadband services in response to surging demand,” he added.

According to him, absence of laws in using the utility poles, limited space available in the poles and increasing number of service providers are underlying problems while offering broadband services. Bohora urged the authority to revise the new rental charge so that internet service providers and cable TV operators do not take undue financial damage. The country’s average broadband cost stands at $18.86 per month while broadband users are paying $6.71 per megabit per month. According to the recent management and information system report of Nepal Telecom Authority, among total broadband service, mobile broadband users has reached 46.29 percent while wired fixed broadband covers 12.11 percent and wireless fixed broadband covers 1.23 percent of the population.

There are 109 internet service providers registered in the country, out of which around a dozen are the key players. The increasing market demand has led to expanding network of internet across the country with the rise in the use of online services such e-commerce, online transaction, e-ride and online food services.

Published: 18-05-2019 09:59

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