‘STM may get licence if it fulfils conditions’

- SANJEEV GIRI, Kathmandu
STM needs to invest Rs350 million to obtain a unified licence

Jun 16, 2017-STM Telecom Sanchar may be granted a unified licence allowing it to provide mobile service using CDMA and GSM networks if it clears all outstanding dues and complies with specified conditions, the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) said.

The NTA’s statement comes weeks after a caretaker government led by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal directed it to award a unified licence to STM. 

NTA Chairman Digambar Jha told the Post that the authority would issue a unified licence to STM under certain preconditions.

“And that will happen only if the company fulfils all other requirements. The licence will be conditional,” Jha said, adding that the NTA may give a licence with a condition that the company erect BTS (base transceiver station) towers. 

The NTA had held back from awarding a unified licence to STM that operates in 16 districts in eastern Nepal, stating that it hadn’t fulfilled the requirements set by the regulatory body. 

Following this decision, the Ministry of Information and Communication under the leadership of former minister Surendra Kumar Karki had taken the matter to the Cabinet and directed the NTA to issue the permit.  

Telecom service providers are required to have adequate BTS towers and exchange centres in place before they will be issued a unified licence. This is one of the major conditions set by the NTA.

As STM has been providing mobile service using VSAT (very small aperture terminal) technology, it does not qualify for a unified licence.

A notice published in the Nepal Gazette in May 2012 has set several conditions for limited mobility licence holders to be eligible to get a unified licence. Based on this, the NTA has not issued the licence. The government had introduced the provision of a unified licence in 2012 with a view to provide a level playing field to all telecom companies. There are currently six telecommunications service providers in the country. 

Unified licence holders are allowed to operate multiple telecom services, including GSM mobile service, which is currently being provided by Ncell and Nepal Telecom only.

Besides establishing a BTS tower network, the telecom service provider will have to pay at least Rs650 million to the government. STM needs to invest Rs350 million to obtain a unified licence. It will also have to pay Rs270 million as frequency fee and Rs30 million as royalty fee. 

Moreover, STM needs to fulfill all other liabilities. According to the NTA, the company hasn’t cleared liabilities other than its contribution to the Rural Telecommunications Development Fund (RTDF).  

Even though the authority is thinking about issuing a conditional licence, it may take some time to complete the procedure as two new members in the NTA board are yet to formally assume their posts. 

A recent Cabinet meeting has appointed C Mani Chaulagain and Tek Nath Acharya to the five-member NTA board. The newly inducted members need to be administered the oath of office by the information and communications minister. Newly elected Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba holds this portfolio. 

“Prime Minister Deuba can administer the oath to the new members. If not, we will have to wait till a minister is designated,” Jha said.

Published: 16-06-2017 08:32

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