NTA shoots 30-day ultimatum to UTL

  • unified telecom licence
- SANJEEV GIRI, Kathmandu
NTA shoots 30-day ultimatum to UTL

Feb 22, 2015-

The Nepal Telecommunic- ations Authority (NTA) has issued a 30-day deadline to the United Telecom Limited (UTL) for acquiring unified license, warning that the telecom regulator would not be liable to give it 900 Mhz band as decided earlier.

The government has set 900 MHz and 1800 MHz frequency for operating GSM service in Nepal. The 900 MHz frequency is considered a better option in voice service with a  lower operating cost. On the other hand, 1800 MHz frequency is considered a better choice for data service. According to an NTA source, it takes 100 towers to operate 900 MHz frequency properly as against 200 towers in the case of 1800 MHz which naturally makes the latter an expensive option.

Following a board meeting on Friday, the NTA sent a reminder to UTL on Sunday, asking it to collect the unified licence which the authority had decided to award to the company nearly two years ago. “We would like to inform you to consult the license section of NTA and deposit the required amount as well as bank guarantee and get the licence frequency within 30 days of receipt of this letter,” says an NTA letter to the UTL. “If not, NTA cannot ensure the availability of frequency in 900 Mhz band which has been kept aside for you.”

NTA Chairman Digambar Jha said that the telecom regulator kept quiet for long on the issue. “We had to write the reminder since the company did not approach for the licence,” he said, adding that the NTA would open way for other companies to acquire licence if needed. If UTL fails to proceed on time, the NTA might deny the company the 900 MHz frequency. The UTL management, however, said that they are yet to receive the letter from the regulator. “It would be premature to comment on this issue as we have not yet received the letter. Once we receive it, we will discuss about it and be in a position to talk about it,” UTL CEO SP Pachauri said when contacted.

On April 11, 2013, the NTA had decided to provide the unified licence to UTL and the other company, Smart Telecom. Though Smart has already acquired the licence by making due payment. “The concept of unified licence was introduced to bring more players into the market for the benefit of customers,” said Jha. Ncell and state-owned Nepal Telecom are the two leading GSM service providers in the country. According to the NTA, UTL has paid only Rs 107.2 million for the unified licence and still needs to pay Rs 390 million.

Jha said the NTA would soon give a go-ahead to Smart Telecom to start the service. “We will give ultimatum to both the companies. Unless they start service even after this, the NTA will take some decision on this regard,” he said.

Staffers’ arrest flares up tension at UTL

Tensions flared at the United Telecom Limited (UTL) on Sunday as eight staff members, including President of All Nepal Workers Union for Organisations and Financial Institutions, UTL chapter, Bikash Jha, were arrested for causing disruption in the company. The UTL management has also suspended 10 employees for ‘unethical’ conduct that has been hurting the company. “They are not cooperating. It’s my way or highway,” said SP Pachauri, the UTL CEO. “We will initiate talk with the agitating group only if they resume the service that has been halted.”  Jha, on the other hand, said they are ready to resume the service if the company calls them for talks and ensure that it will not make any staff redundant. The UTL service has gone down twice since Friday, affecting 600,000 customers across the country. The agitatings workers have neglected an appellate court order, asking both the parties to nominate a mediator to end the dispute and resume the service.

“Since we were arrested by police today, we could not get the stay order issued by the court. We will thing about future course once we receive the letter on hand,” Jha said. All the arrested agitators were freed at around 5 PM.  (PR)

Published: 23-02-2015 07:40

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