Nepal Telecom and Ncell have submited an application to NTA for the permission to operate 4G technology. As government has decided to let the telcos operate 4G in existing frequency bands by changing the provision in Frequency policy 2073, the two big operators have applied for the same. They have asked the regulator to operate 4G in existing 1800 MHz band which is now being used for 2G GSM technology. The frequency policy 2073 has made a provision for the technology neutrality which lets the operator to implement any technology in existing frequency bands.
Both the operators have even asked NTA to provide additional bandwidth in 1800 MHz frequency band. Currently Nepal Telecom owns 15 MHz bandwidth (uplink and downlink duplex) whereas Ncell holds 11 MHz (duplex) frequency bandwidth in the same 1800 MHz, all used for 2G technology. The new frequency policy 2073 specifies the maximum bandwidth for an operator in 1800 MHz to be 20 MHz and there are unused frequency ( around 7 to 10 MHz) in the band. So the regulator may provide some additional chunk to both of the operators.
According to Kantipur daily, Ncell and Nepal Telecom have applied for the operation of 4G with technology neutrality in 1800 MHz band, on Sunday and Monday respectively. NTA will now discuss over their application and make a decision whether to give approval for the operators as per the provision in the new frequency policy 2073. If given approval for the technology neutrality, the regulator shall ask both the operators to submit their implementation plan for the expansion of the 4G service. NTA will assign certain time and conditions to complete the preparation work. Then the operators can start the service on approval from NTA.
As said earlier, both operators are readying their network for 4G which according to them, would not take more than software upgrade and very little of hardware upgrade. According to Kantipur daily, it is more likely that Ncell will not be getting the permission for 4G from technology neutrality due to their unresolved tax issue during their buyout by Axiata from Teliasonera. Finance committee in the legislative parliament has even directed government not to provide the permission, unless the tax issue be resolved. So, if this comes true, Nepal Telecom will be the first operator to launch 4G in the country, as it was the pioneer in all of the technologies from landline to 2G to 3G in Nepal.