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Nepal Telecom Plans to Shut down CDMA service in this Fiscal Year

Nepal Telecom (NT) is now going to completely shut down CDMA service (sky phone and C-phone) this fiscal year of 2020-21. The CDMA based 2G and 3G are finally coming to an end in Nepal with this CDMA shutdown.

The company plans to shut down CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) technology/services and replace its users with GSM (Global System for Mobiles) service. NT will be focusing on the enhancement of the new generation technologies like 4G LTE and obviously 5G service in the future.

The Radio Frequency Policy Determination Committee earlier decided to discontinue the CDMA service provided by Nepal Telecom before 2022. Not only Nepal Telecom, but several telcos around the world are also shutting down CDMA service. Let’s find out why.

Cellular tower

Why are telcos shutting down CDMA?

Nepal Telecom introduced the CDMA service back in 2006. One of the great technologies that time, offered a wide range of frequency spectrum of 800MHz and 1900MHz, better call quality. CDMA had more potential than then GSM technology in terms of wide coverage and voice quality.

But there are still some areas where only CDMA mobile service is available. That’s why Nepal Telecom kept on expanding CDMA to all parts of the country, which is put on halt as they decided not to invest in CDMA and WiMAX in 2017.

As time passed by, technology changed rapidly, and so did GSM technology. We saw an evolution in GSM whereas the CDMA network got stuck at one point. The focus went more on 4G LTE, which is compatible with international standards and further evolution.

Nepal Telecom recently provided CDMA based mobile service in the disputed Kalapani region, which Nepal claims it’s own territory. They maintained the existing CDMA tower there, which now provides mobile coverage to different parts of the region and also including some of the Indian territories.

Find how to use CDMA data packs in Nepal?

Similarly, the world is now shifting towards 5G network development. At this point, the telcos are not finding it economical or worth an investment to operate the CDMA service. That’s why several global telcos are switching from CDMA to GSM.

Meanwhile, many global operators have also started shutting down either 2G or 3G technologies. European telcos such as Vodafone announced to shut down 3G throughout Europe between 2020 and 2021.

Similarly, Deutsche Telekom, Swisscom, and Telefónica’s target are to do the same within 2020, however, none of them has publicly stated to shut down 2G. In contrast to European telcos, most of the Asian telcos have already shut down 2G and may think about shutting down 3G.

The Canadian companies like Bell and Telus and American companies like Sprint and Verizon are focused on 4G and 5G of GSM phones rather than 3G. Find why 4G is better than 3G mobile networks.

What’s the benefit of GSM over CDMA?

Though CDMA has some better aspects, the benefits of the GSM network overshadow them. Here are some benefits of GSM network over CDMA:

  • Generally, with a 3G CDMA network, making voice calls and transmitting data at the same time is not possible but, a 3G GSM network provides simultaneous voice and data service.
  • 4G LTE network provides greater coverage and better call quality at lower costs.
  • GSM network support is available on all of the mobile phones whereas, for CDMA, there are limited handsets available. So, switching to new phones with CDMA R-UIM card is also limited.
  • GSM supports 4G and 5G networks, unlike CDMA, which only supports 2G and 3G. That is there is no further evolution of CDMA technology.

Read: 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G mobile technologies explained simply.

Study of CDMA sunset

As we write on this news, the CDMA shutdown is not going to happen instantly. NTA’s latest MIS data shows around 16 lakhs (1.6 million) GSM customers of Nepal Telecom but the active customers could be lower than that data. The telecom company is currently making a plan to smoothly shut down the CDMA service without putting much impact on its customers. Nepal Telecom is considering several ideas on that resort which is not limited to.

  • Migration of CDMA customers to GSM service, with expanding its GSM towers to more areas.
  • Providing packages and encouraging them to move to GSM, w, or w/o keeping the same mobile number.
  • Handset bundling package to those subscribers who cannot afford to buy GSM phones.

Nepal Telecom will shut down CDMA service by the end of the 2020-21 fiscal year. So, CDMA users need to replace their CDMA phones with GSM. NT has 4G LTE coverage in more than 2000 locations already, in all 77 districts. If CDMA shuts down, Nepal Telecom will have more frequency bands to use for 4G and the operation cost will also go down for the telco. Various countries have stopped using CDMA service, and some intend to shut it down by 2021.

We recommend you to read the challenges of telecom operators in Nepal.

Do you think Nepal Telecom can shutdown CDMA service within the 2020-21 fiscal year? Share your views in the comment down below.

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