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After the approval of new Radio frequency policy 2073 from Ministry of Information and Communication (MOIC), the licensing and frequency hurdle has been already fixed, enabling operators to apply for 4G through technology neutrality. Till now, it is known that top three operators of Nepal: namely Nepal Telecom, Ncell and Smart cell have applied for the 4G license along with frequency request. Nepal Telecom and Ncell claim that they can operate 4G within two months after getting the license and frequency, which will be done in the major cities including Kathmandu whereas it is not known whether smart cell is also 4G ready or not. The regulator NTA is evaluating the applications from the operators and will take some time to give the license. Only after the approval from NTA, the operators can do the work (hardware and software upgrade) to operate 4G in existing mobile network. The 4G news have already made customers excited about the technology and they keep on inquiring for new services that they can get with it.
What services can we get from 4G?
4G is a fourth generation mobile technology standard, the evolution to 3G technology. Till now Nepal only has 2G and 3G, which provides both voice and data services. But the 4G services that Nepali operators are bringing in the first phase is only for data service. Theoretically data speed with 4G can go up to 100 Mbps with large spectrum and good coverage. As the little spectrum is there for Nepali operators with the condition now that they are bringing 4G in existing frequency bandwidth of 1800 MHz, the data speed will be limited to 10 – 20 Mbps for a non loaded network whereas for a loaded network it will be around 5 to 8 Mbps. LTE is the name of the 4G technology which stands for Long term evolution. If the operators include VoLTE ( voice over LTE feature, that is being added to already existing LTE network in the world) for their network, 4G can also provide voice services. But in initial phase, the voice calls will be made from the existing 2G and 3G networks. Other services can include Television broadcasting, HD audio, HD video call.
What do you need for using 4G?
This is one of the queries that we have been getting for 4G. If Nepali telcos start operating 4G mobile network, customers need to have 4G enabled in their SIM card ( or RUIM card if they permit) by some subscription and have user equipment (UE) that the network supports. There are two versions of LTE; Frequency division duplex (FDD) and Time division duplex (TDD) among which Nepal is opting for FDD. Also the frequency of operation for 4G will be in 1800 MHz, the band is also called band 3. So customers need to have a user Equipment (either Smartphone or dongle connected to a computer) that supports FDD 1800 MHz frequency (Band 3).
Update: The Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA) has still not given nod to the two operators (Nepal Telecom and Ncell) for 4G though technology neutrality. It is not known when are they going to give the license as it has been around a month that both the operator applied. Previously it was in the news that metro cities of Nepal will have 4G in upcoming Dashain but as the license is not given and necessary hardware/ software updates are not purchased, 4G will take some time to reach us.