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If you are aware of the telecom business here in Nepal, then you probably know how many telecom operators/companies/service providers are there in Nepal. Except for one, all other telecom operators are mobile service providers that operate a cellular mobile network in different parts of Nepal. There is only one landline service provider, NTC (Nepal Telecom) aka Nepal Doorsanchar which has got all the telecom services available in Nepal, including Mobile.
NTA, Nepal Telecommunication Authority provides the license and the frequency for the operation of Mobile Networks. As of 2014, the basic telephony license to operate service in the whole of Nepal is a Unified license. Here we have also included the information if the operators have got a unified license below.
There are altogether six Telecom companies/operators here in Nepal. Among which 5 are mobile/cellular service providers. The following table shows the telecom operators, their services and subscribers (as of Kartik 2076).
|S.N||Telecom Network operators||Services||Subscribers||Unified license|
|1||Nepal Telecom (NTC)||Landline, GSM, CDMA, WCDMA, LTE(4G), ADSL, WiMAX, WiFi,||23.6 million||Yes|
|2||Ncell||GSM, WCDMA, LTE (4G)||18.8 million||Yes|
|3||Smart Telecom (STPL)||GSM, LTE( 4G)||2 million||Yes|
|4||UTL||CDMA (Fixed and Mobile), Planned GSM, Planned LTE( 4G)||Not operational||Yes|
|5||Nepal Satellite (NSTPL) a.k.a Hello mobile||GSM (Limited area), Midwest and Far-west region||.4 million||No|
|6||CG Telecom (previously STM)||Remote telephony from VSAT, GMPCS, Planned GSM and LTE (4G)||3 thousand||Yes and No|
The above number is based on the NTA data as of March 2017. There are four operators with a unified license. So, all of them will be operating a 2G network in 900 and 1800 MHz. It is interesting to know that the operators like Smart Telecom, UTL will invest in 4G more without having a 3G network.
The requirement of high-speed internet will be provided by 4G and the traditional voice be provided by 2G GSM technology. Read about the Frequency bands for the Mobile service providers in Nepal.
Here is the network code for the telecom operators in Nepal, which includes MCC and MNC (Mobile country code, Mobile Network code).
|1||Ntc (Nepal Telecom)||GSM||429||01||429-01|
So, if you want to choose one mobile operator/service provider for the SIM card, then you need to know your requirements where you want to use it. The two operators have got mobile network throughout the country. They are Ntc and Ncell. This is for all those who have or prefer the GSM network. So, if you want to roam around the country, then definitely go for one of them.
NTC (Nepal Telecom) is a government-owned telecom company so its service is even available in remotest place of Nepal. Nepal Telecom has the obligation to provide telecom services in all parts of the country. But make sure you take SIM card and subscribe to all services, before leaving to those places. Whereas service wise Ncell has got different interesting services including its class customer care center. These days Nepal telecom data packs have also been quite interesting and favorable to customers.
Now both the operators Nepal Telecom and Ncell have good 4G network here in Kathmandu, and major cities. Nepal Telecom has expanded its 4G coverage to all 77 districts and the major areas of the country. Similarly Ncell has 4G coverage in around 40 districts but they are asked to provide to all 77 districts within 2020. Read more about Conditions from NTA to Ncell.
If you have a CDMA handset, then it is only NTC (Nepal Telecom) which has the network throughout the country. You can find a good signal even in the remotest place of Nepal. Make sure you take RUIM/SIM card from the Ntc office before leaving for the remote place. They also have got data service in the NTC CDMA (Sky phone). Please subscribe to the EVDO or data service in the Ntc office. But it seems Ntc is going to shutdown the CDMA network soon, whereas NTA has already decided to sunset CDMA from the year 2022.
Read more: How to check the balance in Ntc?
Ncell is a leading private telecom service provider, which is owned by Axiata group now. They had been owned by TeliaSonera Company before. They used to operate in Mero Mobile brand before. The private Telco competes well with the Government-owned Telecom service provider, Nepal Telecom. They have been coming up with the aggressive expansion and plans for the whole area of Nepal.
Being a private company, they are still focused on more profitable areas and their marketing promotion has also been aggressive. As we mentioned before, they have the highest 4G coverage in Nepal. They keep on adding the latest technology and features in their network to provide better services to the customers. As per latest NTA test, Ncell mobile internet is the fastest in Nepal with a speed of 74 Mbps.
The third operator Smart Telecom is also expanding its network to different places in the country. Till now, it is available only in major cities and areas of the country. Smart Telecom also has not been able to expand its 2G and 4G service to more areas. But we have found some expansion recently in the eastern part and more. Find the coverage of Smart Telecom.
UTL (CDMA operator) which has got the unified license and frequency is also going to operate 2G in the whole of Nepal. Now, they have shut down their CDMA service. We have heard about the UTL 2G for a long time but we still don’t know when they will realize the network before the commercial launch. The investment in UTL has not also come out as per the news rumors. So, its revival is on hold for some time.
Hello Mobile is another brand for the limited GSM mobile service. Nepal Satellite Pvt. Ltd (Mukti Group) is another mobile service provider with Hello mobile brand. They had been operating limited GSM services in the Far western and Midwestern regions. But their limited GSM service is also not operational now due to some fault in their network.
They might also come with their new plan to revive and operate 4G mobile services in all parts of the country. Well, the question is how can they provide mobile service in all parts of the country?? They need to own the unified license and a huge investment. Earlier NTA decided to scrap its license but the government saves it from being scrapped.
CG Telecom is speculated to be the latest operating mobile service in the country with 4G. Chaudhary Group, the largest business house of Nepal entered into telecom sector by buying STM, a satellite-based telecom operator.
Although the government decided to provide the unified license to CG Telecom, the regulator has not provided the license and the frequency for the operation of mobile service. Recently CG telecom has partnered with LifeCell company for digital services.
We can expect CG to do an alliance with the same LifeCell (owned by Turkcell) or telecom equipment supplier for the installation of the telecom service. Let’s hope their service will come soon as they announced before to revolutionize the telecom market in Nepal. But the circumstances have not been favorable to Chaudhary Group in getting the license to operate mobile service in whole of the country.
There is a debate on how many telecom service providers are actually in Nepal? People argue that the six number of telcos is quite huge for the size of a country like Nepal. They also suggest we do not need more than three telecom companies in Nepal. NTA is also looking for a foreign telecom company to enable more competition.
The merging policy for telecom companies is also pending for a long time. This would help to reduce the no of telecom service providers in Nepal and help them sustain for the long term in the market. As many international giants and even national business groups want to invest in this lucrative telecom market, we can expect the regulator to come up with the merger and acquisition policy soon.
If you have any queries about any telecom operator/service providers and mobile networks in Nepal, feel free to ask us.