Provisions that could create monopolies to be amended

  • Revision
  • Infrastructure development and sharing regulation
- SANJEEV GIRI, Kathmandu

May 10, 2017-

Provisions in the draft Infrastructure Development and Sharing Regulation that could be manipulated by authorities to stifle free competition in the telecom infrastructure services market will be revised, the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) said.

As per a provision in the draft regulation, after a licence to cater telecom infrastructure services has been issued to a service provider, a similar permit will not be provided to another company for a period of five years.

This stipulation seems to be an attempt to grant a monopoly to one company even though the permit can be revoked if service quality is not up to the mark, officials said.

“The draft hasn’t been approved yet. We are holding consultations with several stakeholders, and we are clear that there should be multiple players in the market to prevent a monopoly,” MoIC Spokesperson Ram Chandra Dhakal said. The draft will be amended according to the inputs from the concerned line agencies, he added. 

The ministry held the first round of consultations with stakeholders on Sunday. It was chaired by Information and Communications Minister Surendra Kumar Karki and attended by representatives of the Office of the Prime Minister, Industry Ministry, Law Ministry, NTA, telecom service providers and internet service providers, among others. 

The ministry is of the view that the regulation should be in line with the Competition Promotion and Market Protection Act 2007, Dhakal said. The ministry also sees a need to establish a government company and authorise two private firms for the development of infrastructure. 

“Establishing a government firm is just a concept, and we need to think about it seriously. However, if it is established, there will be a point of reference for the government on several aspects of such companies,” Dhakal said. 

The NTA prepared the draft regulation after holding discussions for years. The telecom sector regulator was prompted to create the regulation after service providers began giving little emphasis to infrastructure development, leaving issues like quality of service unaddressed. 

Moreover, telecom infrastructure is being developed in a haphazard manner, resulting in a waste of financial resources, according to the NTA. As per a rough estimate, infrastructure eats up as much as 60 percent of the outlay of telecom companies. 

Infrastructure sharing is a concept where a number of service providers use a common platform to offer services. 

After the implementation of the regulation, companies like Nepal Telecom, Ncell and UTL will have to use the same base transceiver stations and connection platforms to provide services. This means the company responsible for developing infrastructure will have a big responsibility to fulfill, making it a lucrative business. 

“Almost all stakeholders present at the meeting were positive regarding the draft. We have noted their feedback and will incorporate doable suggestions in the regulation,” Dhakal said.

The amended draft will be presented at a meeting of the Telecommunications Infrastructure Promotion Committee under the MoIC. It will then be sent to the Finance and Law ministries for clearance. After that the ministry will submit it to the Cabinet for formal ratification. Dhakal said that the ministry planned to take the 

draft to the Cabinet within this fiscal year. 

Published: 10-05-2017 09:02

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