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The year 2018 has come to an end. We have witnessed a turbulence year for the telecom sector in Nepal. Some of the events include some controversies, the decreased Global rank of Nepal for internet speed, p_0rn ban, increase of 4G subscribers, increased usage of digital services and much more. Let’s summarize/review what Nepal’s telecom sector have observed in the year 2018.
There has not been a significant result on the telecom sector this year as we have expected. We are doing a round-up of all the major events in the telecom sector this year. Let’s start with some of the controversies in the telecom sector.
The biggest controversy in the Nepalese Telecom sector of 2018 was the sacking, appointment row of Mr. Digambar Jha as NTA chief. First, he was sacked by the Oli government for the reversal of all the appointments done by previous Government and claiming to be incapable for the post. Then the same government appointed him to the same position from open competition. People and even ruling party’s leaders and cadres were unhappy with the appointment. Accusing him of corruption, 43 NCP leaders signed a letter to PM, demanding his resignation. Ultimately, Digambar resigned from the NTA Chairman post. Read here for more.
Another controversy erupted when Government charged Telecom service charge (TSC) in the internet service. With the application of TSC, the internet price (in both Fixed internet and mobile internet) was increased. Later ISPs and Government reached an agreement not to increase the internet price of home internet. But the price hike in mobile data internet (used mostly by people) remained the same. Recently ISPAN threatened to increase the price by Poush 15. Which is also settled by now due to the Government pledget to implement the agreement. Read more here.
Controversies do not end there only. The government also sacked Mrs. Kamini Rajbhandari from the Nepal Telecom’s Managing Director (MD). With the dissatisfaction over her performance and progress of the government-owned company, She was asked clarifications for twice before the dismissal. There was no interim order for her petition to stop the new MD appointment process and reinstatement. She has already filed two cases to the court against the Government. The government has started the new NTC MD appointment process after 4 months of firing Kamini, for which 11 applicants have applied.
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Citing the P_orn to increase the sexual violence in the country, Government banned P0rn sites and sexual content on the internet from September. Although there was a mixed reaction for the reason to take down indecent content, Government held firm to the decision. People find different ways like a proxy, VPN to find such content on the internet. Read more here.
The government has finally succeeded to shutdown Analog TV in Kathmandu on March 2018 and other major cities to follow suit. MOCIT has also planned to shutdown the analog TV in the whole of Nepal. Digital TV has also expanded along with the combo internet service. New Digital Terrestrial TV service provider Prabhu TV was also launched in June 2018. Find the advantages and disadvantages of Digital TV here.
The year 2018 saw massive increase and usage of digital payment like eSewa, Khalti for different services like Utility payments, recharge, movie ticketing, bus/flights ticketing, online shopping, and more. This had led to the entry of several other digital wallets like Prabhu pay, IME pay, Qpay. NRB keeps on providing the digital payment license to these providers, Cell pay becomes the latest one to get the license. People are becoming accustomed of the services from these apps. But the question remains as for how many digital wallets do we need in Nepal, that can sustain in the market?
Startup and Innovative applications have grown well in Nepal in the Year 2018. Online Food delivery websites like Foodmandu, Food Mario and more have already grabbed people’s attention to buy Food online. The homegrown app like Tootle for bike sharing service already served the Kathmanduities on the huge scale. Taxi sharing applications like Sarathi was about to launch in large scale but their formal launch is yet to happen. With the popularity of Tootle, Bangladeshi app Pathao also launches here in Kathmandu. eSewa had bought Bhatbhateni online to launch it as eSewa Pasal, their portfolio for online shopping.
Hamro Patro, the online calendar not only shows the Patro (calendar) but also the news, horoscope, exam routines and more. Hamro Patro still tops the Nepali app chart in the year 2018. The app has recently crossed 5 million downloads in the Google play store. Find the Top ten Nepali apps for 2018.
Daraz, after-acquired by Alibaba Group, has launched the biggest online shopping sale in Nepal on the date 11.11. They brought shopping discounts, vouchers, mystery boxes, quiz contests to promote their biggest sale day. But the technical problem of their server, an unreasonable price change of some items and delay in responding/delivery, has marred them from being the ultimate show stopper. They did not even claim their biggest sale record in the history of Nepal. But we saw a massive reach in people for online shopping (Thanks to Daraz) which still needs a big push for their credibility and service availability. Find the Top online shopping sites in Nepal.
The year 2018 also saw significant growth of 4G subscribers. The latest NTA data shows only 6 percent increase in mobile penetration in the first 10 months. The 13 lakh 4G subscribers in the year beginning reached to 20 lakhs within October. It is due to the availability of 4G service from Ntc, Ncell, and Smart. Ntc has not been able to expand their 4G network other than Kathmandu and Pokhara. Smart Telecom has recently expanded their 4G service beyond Kathmandu and Pokhara to Biratnagar, find here for more. Ncell has the widest 4G coverage in Nepal in 21 cities. Find the list of cities with Ncell 4G.
Nepal Telecom’s massive 4G project for the expansion of 4G service in all parts of the country is still under evaluation. With the CIAA (Akhtiyaar) probe for 9 months and now with the absence of MD in NTC, the 4G project has been on hold for almost a year. Read here for more. We can only expect it to move ahead, once the NTC MD appointment is put in place.
Whenever we post news regarding 4G expansion or even 5G, people flood their comments and message to us with the question, “when will 4G come to our place?”. With the NTC 4G project in a hold and Ncell not eyeing on the bigger market potential of 4G in all the places, it is hard to answer the question. The recent news on CG Telecom for the launch of 4G in 2019, has given some ray of hope to people. But still, the operator without much infrastructure has much to do before the final launch of their service which takes plenty of time.
Within 10 months of the year 2018, broadband penetration has increased by 10% point to 54 %. The increase is mainly due to the Private ISPs Cable, FTTH and Telcos 3G/4G service. According to the latest world rank by Ookla, Nepal ranks 116th in Mobile broadband and 89th in Fixed broadband. The position is a decline as compared to that in 2017. Read here for more.
We performed a survey regarding the usage of Mobile data in Nepal. We also examined people’s feeling and expectations for the mobile data. Through which, we found that Half of the people consume less than 1 GB data per month. Similarly, we also come to find that 45% people feel that mobile data is expensive in Nepal. We will continue to perform a similar survey in the year 2019.
We also performed polls regularly on our Facebook page. The recent poll suggests 70 % people expect more than 3 nationwide National telecom operator to serve them.
Nepal still struggles for mobile connectivity in some rural parts while the 3G/4G is yet to reach widely in all major areas. While the world moves towards adoption of Gigabit 4G internet and 5G (even in a limited case), we expect 2019 would be the year of 4G here in Nepal. And the usage of digital service in 2018 was impressive, hope it will grow more in the year 2019. We talk of connectivity more than what connectivity can bring to us. Obviously, the impact of using internet connectivity for e-governance, e-banking, health, education is more profound than using Facebook and YouTube only.
Happy New Year 2019 folks!! Keep connected to us in the coming days for more coverage.