Nepal Telecom to launch 4G service tomorrow

- Post Report, Kathmandu
The service being launched in the pilot phase will be available in selected locations of the two valleys—Kathmandu and Pokhara

Dec 31, 2016-State-run Nepal Telecom (NT) is launching fourth generation (4G) telecom service in Kathmandu and Pokhara valleys on Sunday, in a bid to provide faster and higher quality data services to its subscribers.

The service being launched in the pilot phase will be available in selected locations of the two valleys, NT Spokesperson Pratibha Vaidya told the Post without disclosing exact locations where the new generation of telecom service will be available.

“However, not all of our customers may be able to use 4G service on their devices from the first day of its launch, as they may have to replace their SIM cards,” Vaidya said, without disclosing the number of 4G-compatible SIM cards that are in circulation.

NT currently has around 13.3 million GSM mobile phone subscribers.

What is also not known is the cost of 4G service, as NT spokesperson denied to disclose the tariff. 

The Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA), the telecom sector regulatory body, 

has said NT can introduce its own promotional tariff for a period of three months from the date of soft launch of the service.

“NT will have to gets its tariff plan approved within this three-month period,” NTA Spokesperson Purushottam Khanal said. 

NT, on October 21, received permission to operate 4G service in Kathmandu and Pokhara from January 1.

Since then, NT has been conducting tests of the 4G service in both the places.

During these tests, NT had, however, found that 4G service was inaccessible in Apple devices powered by iOS, a mobile operating system created and developed by the US smartphone maker.

This means users of iPhone and iPad may not be able to use 4G service for the time being.

Telecom operators all around the world must sign an agreement with Apple to enable their customers to use devices such as iPhone and iPad on their networks. NT apparently has not entered into such a deal.

The agreement basically allows a telecom company to synchronise its network with Apple devices that run on iOS, paving the way for iPhone and iPad users to use 4G service on its network.

NT has said it has already requested the American smartphone maker to enable the ‘location code’. 

While NT is all set to launch 4G service, Ncell, a privately-owned cell phone service provider, has not obtained permission to do so. 

The NTA is yet to extend the permission to Ncell, although both the telecom companies had formally sought permission in July to launch 4G service from the existing frequency of 1800 Mhz.

According to highly-placed NTA sources, the regulator is reluctant to award 4G licence to Ncell due to the ongoing capital gains tax case.

“As the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee has directed government agencies not to award any kind of licence to Ncell before the capital gains tax issue is settled, we have not initiated the process,” said the source.

Published: 31-12-2016 09:06

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