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Mobile, Internet and broadband penetration in Nepal

Big room for the expansion of broadband internet in Nepal, both fixed and mobile.

The telecommunication development of the country used to be measured by teledensity only, which is the percentage of telephone access to people. Then came Mobile penetration and broadband penetration which are now a major indicator for the percentage of mobile and broadband access to people.

According to the Nepal Telecommunication Authority’s (NTA) latest data, the teledensity in Nepal has crossed 139 percent. Most of the telephone lines are of mobile technology like GSM, WCDMA, CDMA.  The mobile penetration itself has crossed 136%. That does not necessarily mean the mobile coverage is everywhere and everyone is using the mobile. Considering the dual SIM customers, customers who went abroad, or old age/infant people, the unique  Mobile penetration is less than 100 percent.

The latest NTA data shows the Broadband Internet penetration of over 71%. This mostly includes cellular data in mobile technologies, like WCDMA, EVDO, and LTE. Other services for the internet include ADSL, Coaxial cable, FTTH, and WiMAX. Here we can find internet penetration to be way less than mobile penetration. The reason could be the unavailability of mobile internet in remote areas or the usage of non-internet feature phones.

As per the NTA broadband policy, speed greater than 512 Kbps is considered as broadband internet. Previously every home internet access other than dial-up was considered as broadband internet. But now lately with the NTA definition, the broadband internet does not include GPRS, EDGE, and other lower speed internet services. If we calculate the total internet penetration including all of the slow speed services, then the internet penetration may be a little higher than broadband but there is no data for this lately.

Broadband internet in Nepal

The broadband services from telcos in Nepal include the high-speed 3G, 4G, ADSL, and WiMAX services which have speed ranging from 1 Mbps to 10 Mbps on average. Apart from Telecom companies, the private ISP now has a growing market share for broadband internet services in Nepal. In 2016, ITU presented broadband penetration to being around 20 percent. Now we are here to calculate the latest broadband penetration in Nepal. NTA has targeted to make the broadband reach to 100% in 2020.

The latest NTA data as of Magh 2076 shows there are more than 6 lakhs broadband subscribers from private ISPs through wireless/ optical link and coaxial cable. There are around 2 lakh ADSL users. All of the NTC ADSL lines can be considered broadband as they have a speed of 5 Mbps now.

Mobile broadband in Nepal

Among the subscribers with mobile internet, WCDMA, EVDO, and LTE (4G) technology can be considered a broadband internet. Similarly there are around 16 thousand WiMAX customers for broadband internet.

As per the NTA data, there are altogether 1 crore 16 lakh 3G users and 46 lakhs 4G users. We assume that the number of 4G subscribers is higher than the number mentioned there, with the recent 4G expansion and people’s adoption. When it comes to mobile broadband, it is equally important to ponder on Smartphone penetration in the country. The smartphone penetration in Nepal has taken a great leap in Smartphone penetration which is around 60% now. There should be enough efforts to increase this indicator, to fooster the mobile broadband in Nepal.

Broadband penetration in Nepal

Here is a table for the calculation of the broadband internet penetration in Nepal, which we think NTA should publish in their MIS regularly.

S.N Technology/services for broadband in Nepal
No of subscribers
1 WCDMA, HSPA (3G) 11,602,465
2 EVDO, CDMA 136,573
3 ADSL 955,446
4 WiMAX 90,000
5 Private ISP (Fiber, Ntc FTTH, coaxial cable) 3,857,124
Total 7,596,000
Population of Nepal: 26,494,504
Broadband penetration (percent) 72%

With the above calculation, we find that the total broadband penetration is around 72 percent. Among which, the mobile broadband penetration is about 55 percent. So, the fixed broadband comes at around 17%.

This shows, there is a big room for the expansion of broadband internet in Nepal both fixed and mobile. For which, the regulator has to make a broadband friendly policy like the opening of more sub 1 GHz frequency for broadband (either 3G or 4G). While NTA should also provide subsidies to telcos to roll out 4G in remote parts of the country using RTDF funds.

Read: Ntc expands 4G to all 77 districts of Nepal >>

Similarly, telecom operators and ISPs also need to invest much in providing broadband in the whole of Nepal. Wireless broadband is one of the most feasible internet solutions for a country like Nepal where telcos and ISPs need to focus.

Tell us what do you think of the Broadband situation in the country, in the comment below.

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