Mobile Broadband in Nepal

It was an internet revolution when ADSL was introduced in Nepal by Nepal Telecom on Baishak 17,2065, with such unlimited plan price and ease of usage with the land line phone, ADSL got popular and the demand was enormous which made NT upgrade their system from 40K subscribers to 150k and distribute all around the country. Today the demand got shifted from fixed broadband to mobile broadband with the increase use of smartphones and the prompt availability of information from just a click in the smartphone/tab.

Recent survey shows that about 54 percent of total mobile users have smartphone in their hand and there is huge demand of internet bandwidth due to their readily availability of information but it has not been properly catered by Nepalese Internet/telecom service providers. Subscribers are complaining that world is going towards LTE, WiMax with internet speeds in Mbps but we in Nepal are still having the slow internet with GPRS, Edge and the so called “3G service” coverage not available all around the country. HSDPA (with H sign) is the fastest access technology available with GSM compatible 3G from which you could get max 3.8 Mbps data rate.
International Market has those data catered by newest access technologies like LTE, WiMax and some even operators testing LTE Advanced and WiMax 2 (4G) to release it till the end of this year 2012. Nepal Telecom, the leading Telecom operator has both the technology in pipeline and their IP CDMA project expansion also adds up another option for Mobile Broadband but it takes time for those technology to be available fully all around the country. The speed of the internet with Ncell 3G in cities all goes in vain from the non transparent and expensive tariff with hidden costs, as complained by the customers. Some private ISP are giving good data package both unlimited and usage basis with Wi-Fi hot spots but they are also limited to the periphery of the city. So people in remote areas and even in outskirts of the city has to rely on the data service of the telecom operators available all around but the slow GPRS and Edge leaves much disappointment.
Though LTE is going to be introduced by NT as a pilot project, it is not known when it is going to be operational as the authority body NTA has not made any clear remarks about the duplex type (FDD/TDD) and the frequency spectrum to be used for LTE. Nepal Telecom says they will be bringing the frequency duplex (FDD) LTE in 700 MHz with Huawei but that’s of no avail if NTA (now without Chairman) does not decide that in time.
So for a revolution of Mobile broadband in Nepal, it seems like WiMax hot spots and 3G in whole of Nepal are the only solution that quenches the bandwidth hungry customers. And the increased access of the information from internet in rural areas helps to reduce the digital divide in the country and boost the economic activities there.