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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 total broadband internet penetration in Nepal stands at 131.50%. Likewise, the recent data from Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA), highlights that mobile penetration in Nepal remains at 95.79%. the number consists of various communication technologies used by both cellular and fixed-line services. In this post, you will find out the total broadband penetration in Nepal in detail.

A few years ago, telecommunication penetration of the country used to be measured by the country’s teledensity. But now broadband connectivity has entered the equation. If you were not aware, teledensity is the percentage of telephone access to people. But now mobile and broadband internet penetration has become key indicators for the state of communication access to people. Below in this post, we update broadband penetration among major telecom services (fixed and wireless) in Nepal as per the latest MIS report by NTA.

Let’s start with what broadband means.

What is broadband internet?

The common understanding is that broadband means high-speed internet. It sounds the same too but it requires a careful definition. What is broadband internet? It means a type of connection that transcends regular or old-generation internet speeds. This varies from country to country. Because depending on a country’s needs, and capacity, broadband internet harbors different means. So, that leads us to the inevitable – What is considered a broadband connection in Nepal?

Earlier, an internet connection with a speed greater than 512 Kbps is considered broadband internet in Nepal, as per the NTA broadband policy. Previously every home internet access other than dial-up connections was considered broadband internet. But nowadays, broadband internet does not include GPRS, EDGE, or any other lower-speed internet connection from older generations. Fortunately, most of the areas in Nepal today have a high-speed mobile broadband connection as telcos have accelerated their network expansion in rural areas too.

But, if we calculate the total internet penetration including all of the slow-speed services, then the total population connected by the internet would soar very high. We hope we have cleared you enough on the perceived meaning of broadband internet in Nepal. Now, let’s head to the factual data.

Find out: Meaning of Mobile Network Signs | G, E, 3G, H/H+, 4G, 5G, VoLTE

Telephony penetration in Nepal

The latest NTA data has shown that the total teledensity in Nepal stands at 141.40%. It is a slight decrease in two months. In Ashar, the total teledensity stood at 143.62%. The telephony services in Nepal include GSM, WCDMA, CDMA, etc.

Mobile broadband in Nepal

Mobile penetration has reached 95.79%. The figure does look encouraging, however, the real-time data escapes areas where connectivity still remains absent. The real data is lower than that as that would actually count the unique mobile service subscribers. If we take into account dual SIM customers, SIM owners who moved abroad, old age/infant people, discarded SIM cards, etc., the unique Mobile penetration would come down below 100%. Broadband service includes cellular connection in mobile technologies such as WCDMA/EVDO (3G), and LTE (4G).

Total broadband internet stats in Nepal

The Nta data shows that the total broadband penetration in Nepal stands at 131.50% as of Aswin, 2079. Nepal has left behind the forgettable suffrage of dial-up internet. With the advent of 4G and fiber systems whose speeds range from at least 1 Mbps to around 100 Mbps on average, Nepal’s broadband quality and penetration have seen a remarkable improvement. The fourth-generation mobile network 4G came in 2017 and has gradually led Nepal’s wireless mobile broadband transformation. At the same time, fiber internet service saw a revolutionary transformation in 2021.

After CG Net bludgeoned 120 Mbps internet, ISPs raged into a speed war. Now, a 100 Mbps internet speed is offered by every major ISP. As per the latest stats, fixed-line broadband (wired) reach has reached 35.48% by 2079 Aswin. The data shows that there are currently 23 lakhs, 9 thousand, 1 hundred, and 47 fiber internet users in Nepal.

Meanwhile, there are 3 lakhs, 69 thousand, 5 hundred, and 15 ADSL users. The total has been on a declining trajectory as Ntc has shunned the dated copper-based service and made fiber internet FTTH it’s default subscription. It is also noteworthy that Ntc is the only ADSL internet service provider in Nepal. The telco now provides a far better and refined FTTH Triple Play service, which has not just thrived but also helped the company contest private ISPs.

NTC is the only company that provides copper-based ADSL services. But the company has begun providing FTTH service and is replacing ADSL in recent years. This should explain the dwindling ADSL users. At the same time, we can consider ADSL lines as broadband since it is capable of over 5 Mbps speeds.

Fiber connection port
fiber internet connection ports

4G dominates mobile broadband service in Nepal

Among the subscribers with mobile internet, WCDMA, EVDO, and LTE (4G) technology can be considered broadband internet. The previous data from Nta showed that there were over 27 thousand WiMax customers. However, Ntc has already shut down the service and is migrating the existing WiMAX customers to the 4G network. Ntc has discontinued the service and is migrating existing customers to mobile subscriptions.

However, real mobile broadband is the domain of 4G LTE and it is flourishing in Nepal. Currently, there are 1 crore, 86 lakhs, 28 thousand, and 345 users connected by 4G. Ntc, Ncell, and Smart Cell provide 4G broadband service which the government-backed operator Ntc leads with over 1.15 crore 4G subscribers. The private telco Ncell also has a large base of 4G users of around 70 lakh as NTA highlights. Another private company Smart Cell has a slim base of 1.46 lakh uses.

Ntc provides Carrier Aggregation to deliver higher 4G speed. At the time of writing this post, both Ntc and Ncell provide 4G-based VoLTE service too which brings the benefits of HD voice calls for subscribers.

Telecom Towers Kathmandu
Cell towers of Ntc, Ncell, and Smart Cell a few meters apart from each other, pictured in Kathmandu

The rise of 4G users in Nepal is attributable to the increase in smartphone reach and vice versa. Smartphone penetration has actively helped grow mobile network expansion and data consumption, especially among the youth.

With 4G expansion growing steadily, the shift to the network has resulted in a gradual decline in the number of 3G users in Nepal. As of now, there are 91 lakh, 98 thousand, and 819 3G subscribers.

The major broadband stats

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.NTechnology/services for broadband in NepalNumber of subscribers
14G (LTE)1,86,28,345
2WCDMA, HSPA (3G)91,98,819
3EVDO136,573
4ADSL136,573
6Fixed Internet via Fiber/Coaxial
(ISPs Fiber, Ntc FTTH, Coaxial cable)
99,87,037
7Radio (WiFi)69,828
8Lease line internet (Ntc)953
 Total broadband users3,83,88,993
 Total Broadband penetration against the population131.50%
The total broadband penetration in Nepal, data source: NTA

As the table shows, the total broadband penetration in Nepal stands at 131.50% % against the preliminary population data acquired through the census in 2021.

As we stated above, the total broadband percentage gives the impression that all Nepalese are covered by some form of high-speed internet. But it doesn’t include the variables such as the overlap of 3G and 4G connections. Meanwhile, the unique subscription of fiber service has surpassed 2.3 million unique users and has not reached 9.1 million (when calculated by NTA’s 1 connection to 4.3 user ratio) which reduces the actual numbers very low.

Still room for expansion

That means Nepal still has an immense task to do for the expansion of broadband internet in Nepal, especially in fixed-line services. For this, the regulator has to introduce broadband-friendly policies and encourage service providers to expand to rural areas. This also includes freeing up sub 1 GHz frequencies for broadband networks (either 3G or 4G). In addition, NTA should also amplify subsidies to the operators for the 4G rollout using the Rural Telecommunications Development Fund.

Read: NTA to Allocate More Frequencies for 4G Network

Similarly, telecom operators and ISPs both need to jointly invest more resources to provide broadband service and help reduce the digital gap. Wireless broadband is one of the most feasible internet solutions for a country like Nepal with its complex geography and that is where telcos and ISPs need to focus more on rural expansion.

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

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