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When will CG Telecom mobile service be available?

CG telecom license impossible until law amendment

When will CG telecom provide the mobile service? Where and When can we find CG SIM card? When does CG telecom get the license? These are some of the questions which our readers query to us regularly. For which, we always have the same answer as NTA, the regulator is working on it. Sometimes those who query a lot, we say It will take more time for CG telecom to get the license and also the spectrum.

With the announcement of CG telecom’s plan to launch 4G mobile service in Nepal, using the successful business case of Jio (India), people are enthralled to know the news. Similarly, they have a lot of queries as stated above. Some people go a little further to ask what are the features of CG SIM card and the availability. After the news came to light, people believed that the CG telecom will operate mobile service immediately or sooner. But the real situation is quite different.

What the hype?

CG Telecom is a subsidiary of Chaudhary Group, the prominent business group of Nepal which has products like the famed “WaiWai” noodles. Not forgetting the richest person in Nepal, Mr. Binod Chaudhary who owns the whole group. Find more information about CG Telecom. With such large business group involvement, people have a firm belief that this telco will do something regarding the cost and also the availability of fast mobile internet in all places.

Although some people say the telecom market is already saturated here in Nepal, there is a huge gap in what people demand and what they get. They feel the current telcos are not providing service as per their expectations of service cost and availability. Some telecom analysts also see the range of the telecom services in Nepal is not diverse. So, a lot can be done with the introduction of new telcos. And the question comes like how many telecom operators can sustain in Nepal? Which we will not discuss further here.

CG Telecom

As CG will follow the footsteps of Jio, people are expecting a free call and cheap telecom services in no time. It is not only the cheap service, but Jio also means the diverse range of services that comes along with 4G connectivity. Such services that people expect are affordable Music streaming app, Free SIP calls, TV streaming, movies app, News app, Chat, Cloud service and more. Jio has been providing such apps to its subscribers as an add-on to their traditional telecom services.

The requirement to operate mobile service

So, let’s get back to the question like when will CG Telecom actually operate the 4G service? Well for the answer, we should know the basics. For every company to operate a mobile network needs a license and frequency spectrum. So the question also comes whether CG telecom has such a license. The answer is CG telecom only has the rural telecom license but not the nationwide mobile license which they call Unified license. CG Telecom acquired 80% stake of STM which was a satellite-based rural telecom operator. They had services in the mountainous/remote areas where terrestrial communication was very difficult or not feasible.

With the provisions in the law, any rural telecom operator can get the “Unified License” after satisfying NTA requirement of coverage and service for that defined rural area. They should also have to clear all the pending fees to NTA, with the currently limited service license. CG telecom needs to expand its service in the Eastern region to get the Unified license. Although earlier Government decided to provide the Unified license to CG Tel, NTA did not provide any spectrum nor they approved the license.

CG Telecom once got a Stay order from Supreme Court for their case on Spectrum Auction. SC also instructed NTA not to hinder CG to bring the mobile service into operation. That time, CG Telecom could show its preparation to launch a 4G mobile service within 2019. But soon the order was dismissed by SC with the vacate request by NTA.

NTA Chairman words

As per the latest words by NTA Chairman Mr. Purshuttoam Khanal in the interview to Bizkhabar, License could only be awarded to CG Telecom through law amendment. As CG Telecom has not fulfilled the obligations of the service expansion in the eastern region, current law prohibits them to get the license. Nepal Government then decided to award the license to CG telecom, even with the service expansion in the eastern region to happen later. But as the decision was not published in the Nepal Gazette, government official journal, NTA did not recognize it. Mr. Khanal further says, “If Government takes a decision to publish the award of a unified license to CG Telecom, they will soon recognize and it will pave the way for the operation”.

Despite having the convincing reason from Mr. Khanal, there are rumors everywhere that CG Telecom has been marred by political issue. They say the political affiliation that Chairman of Chaudhary Group has, is also one of the reasons behind the disapproval of the license from Government. Least could the chances, but the delay or in-decision only helps to fuel the rumor.

Spectrum

Further, regarding the spectrum, NTA already decided to provide a frequency spectrum by auction. They also started the process for the residual spectrum in 900/1800/2100 MHz bands. But due to several issues, NTA had put the spectrum auction of remaining frequency on hold for which Ntc and Ncell applied. For other spectrum bands which are not in use now, NTA had planned to award by the auction process. There are chances that NTA could award the not used spectrum bands like 700 MHz and 2600 MHz to a new comer like CG Telecom but they do not have any base price. They also need to make the price in line with the current price of other spectrum bands.

How long does it take to operate service after the license?

CG Telecom had already announced of their $100 million deal with Huawei for 4G Telecom equipment, even before getting license and spectrum. Now, if they get the license and spectrum, let’s find how long will it take for the CG mobile service to commercialize?? That is when people can actually use the service with CG Telecom’s SIM card. We want to inform people that even if they get the license, it will take more time for the service to reach you.

They need to bring the required telecom equipment from abroad, install it, test it. They also need to confirm the service quality before reaching the customers. With no infrastructure sharing strategy in place, it will be very difficult for CG Telecom to build completely new infrastructure like Tower, transmission in a matter of some months. Either they need to share the tower infrastructure of existing telcos in a mutual partnership or build a new one for its own use. The latter one is time-consuming with such ardent terrain of the country.

So, with all the points discussed above, Sadly we conclude that people’s demand for CG Telecom or a new telecom operator will not happen any time soon. Even if the decision for license and spectrum comes in favor of CG now, we can expect the actual service to reach the city denizens after at least seven to eight months. And the nationwide coverage is little far from that too.

What do you think of our analysis for the availability of CG Telecom mobile service from license to spectrum to rollout? Please comment below.

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