Supreme court in a landmark decision for the telecom sector, today okays “Unified license”. The procedure of Unified license was once stayed by the court, barring the way to bring new telecom operators.
Now with the decision, Smart Telecom and UTL (United Telecom) can operate mobile services nation-wide. Decisions had been made some five months ago by the country’s regular NTA, regarding the grant of Unified License to Smart Telecom and UTL. But they were not able to bring in the service with the court stay order.
Court even rules out all the cases filed against Unified license. This legalizes all the decision made from NTA when there was no chairman. There was some writs against the gazette notification for granting the authority to decide on crucial issues even in the absence of NTA Chairman. (Supreme court had stayed the government decision to appoint Digambar Jha as NTA head). We can expect NTA to make key verdict for other pending approvals, legislation formulation and spectrum farming for 4G LTE / WiMAX.
Nepal Telecom- the government-owned telco and Ncell– International Telecom Giant TeliaSoneras footprint in Nepal, so far dominated the cellular business with GSM and its generation. Smart had already started erecting towers in Kathmandu after getting a hint of the unified license grant. So it is likely that Kathmanduties will be soon having a new operator most probably Smart cell. Chaudhary Group’s telecom subsidiary CG tel after acquiring STM telecom is also in the line to have the unified License.
The unified license enables an operator to run all of the telecommunication services, throughout the country. They need to pay a fee of NRs 357.50 million at first and a hefty renewal fee of NRs 20.13 Billion in ten years. The operators can also pay the license renewal fee in installment basis.
NTA brings the Unified license strategy to create a level playing field for all the telecom operators. The decision will bring in the number of new operators. So, new policies need to be formulated for mandatory Infrastructure sharing to attract more investment, healthy competition and sustainable growth.