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Telecom operators/companies of Nepal

Which operator/SIM card to buy/choose?

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.

Telecom service providers/companies and services of Nepal

There are altogether six Telecom companies/operators here in Nepal. Among which 5 are mobile/cellular service providers. The following table shows the list of telecom operators along with their services and subscribers (as of Magh 2076).

S.N Telecom Network operators  Services  Subscribers Unified license
1 Nepal Telecom (NTC) Landline, GSM, CDMA, WCDMA, LTE(4G), ADSL, WiMAX, WiFi, 23 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 No
6 CG Telecom (previously STM) Remote telephony from VSAT, GMPCS, Planned GSM and LTE (4G) Yes and No

The above number is based on the NTA data as of Jan 2020.

Among them, the three operators UTL, NSTPL, and CG Telecom either have not been operating their mobile network due to several issues. So, Currently, there are three nation-wide telecom operators in Nepal: Ntc, Ncell and Smart.

In terms of the unified license, four operators have got permission. So, all of them can operate the mobile network across the country. It is interesting to know those telcos like Smart Telecom, UTL 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.

Network code of the telecom operator in Nepal

Here is the network code for the telecom operators in Nepal, which includes MCC and MNC (Mobile country code, Mobile Network code).

S.N. Operator Technology MCC MNC Operator Code
1 Ntc (Nepal Telecom) GSM 429 01 429-01
2 Ncell GSM 429 02 429-02
3 Ntc CDMA 429 03 429-03

 

Now let’s go with the details of the telecom operators in Nepal among the list and one by one.

1. Nepal Telecom

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. It has got telecom services from 2G, 3G, 4G to CDMA to WiMAX to FTTH to ADSL, and more. Regarding SIM card, if you want to use all the features and services, make sure you take SIM card and subscribe to all services from the Ntc office itself.

Nepal Telecom has 4G coverage available in all 77 districts which will be extended to all parts of the country within 2020. These days Nepal telecom data packs have also been quite interesting and favorable to customers.

Read more: How to check the balance in Ntc?

2. Ncell

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.

Read: How to check the balance in Ncell?

Being a private company, they are focused on more profitable areas and their marketing promotion has also been aggressive. As we mentioned before, they have the largest 4G coverage in Nepal. They keep on adding the latest technology and features in their network to provide better services to the customers.

Find all of the data packages in Ncell.

Which mobile operator or SIM card to choose?

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 a 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 vs Ncell

Now both the operators Nepal Telecom and Ncell have a 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.

  • Quality of service: Ntc Vs Ncell: More or less similar. Ntc found the best for Telecom service. Read more here.
  • Price or tariff: Ntc is found to be cheaper than Ncell.

Read Ntc vs Ncell data pack.

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 shut down the CDMA network soon, whereas NTA has already decided to sunset CDMA from the year 2022.

Find all of the offers in Nepal Telecom.

3. Smart Telecom

The third operator Smart Telecom is also expanding its network to different places in the country. Smart Cell is the mobile brand name of Smart Telecom. 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 services to more areas, having operated from more than 5 years. But we have found some expansion recently in the eastern part and more. Find the coverage of Smart Telecom.

4. UTL

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.

5. Hello Mobile

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.

6. CG Telecom

Chaudhary Group, the largest business house of Nepal entered into telecom sector by buying STM, a satellite-based telecom operator. CG Telecom is speculated to be the latest operating mobile service in the country with 4G. But they still could not get the unified license and the spectrum to operate the 4G network.

The government had once decided to provide a unified license to CG Telecom. But the regulator has not provided the license and the frequency for the operation of mobile service. Recently CG telecom had partnered with LifeCell company for digital services.

We expected CG to partner with the same LifeCell (owned by Turkcell) or telecom equipment supplier for the installation of the telecom service. CG Telecom announced to revolutionize the telecom market in Nepal by providing free voice and affordable data. But the circumstances have not been favorable to Chaudhary Group in getting the license to operate mobile service in the whole of the country.

Companies Merger??

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 a small 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.

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