Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA), conducted a Quality Test (Drive Test) of Mobile services recently in the Kathmandu Valley. It was carried out between March and June 2021 in different places of Kathmandu Valley.
They performed the test of Nepal Telecom, Ncell Axiata, and Smart Telecom‘s Mobile Networks. And the test result shows that all three mobile service providers have failed to provide quality services in the Kathmandu Valley, in terms of Call setup time and Call setup success rate.
NTA used to regularly publish such drive test results, portraying the quality of mobile networks. The study and survey was halted with the pandemic situation, which has resumed now.
Places Covered For the Quality Test (Drive Test)
NTA carried out the drive test of Ntc, Ncell and Smart Cell in three cities of the Kathmandu valley. The first being Kathmandu that includes places such as Kamaladi, Tripureshwor, kalimati, Kalanki, Kshetrapati, Baagishwari, Swayambhu, Sitapaila, Chhauni, Chabahil, Gothatar, Golfutar, Kapan, Mandikatar, Chapali, Narayanthan, Gongabu, Gaushala, Sinamangal, and Shantinagar.
In Lalitpur, the test was carried out in various places like Teku, Kupandole, Balkumari, Imadol, Gwarko, and Tikathali. Likewise in Bhaktapur, the test was conducted in Balkot, Kaushaltar, Pepsikola, Narephant, and other places in the Main and connecting roads that are connected to Ring road in mentioned districts.
NTA uses Drive test method to inspect the Quality of Mobile network/service. Drive Test measures several parameters with a testing tool mounted on a moving vehicle. The measured parameters show the key performance indicators (KPIs) of the cellular network, indicating the quality of the network. It is done by repeatedly making voice or data calls, while plying on the road.
They put the testing tools settings as automatic and performed the call test. So that the tool selects the most favorable network automatically among 4G, 3G, and 2G mobile networks for each service provider as per availability in one place. They performed the test of all the available service providers at the same time.
All operator (Ntc, Ncell, Smart Cell) fail to meet NTA quality criteria
With the drive test result, all of the mobile service providers have failed to meet the criteria set by NTA for Call Setup Time and Call Setup Success Rate. NTA threshold for Call Setup Time is 5 seconds or less and Call Setup Success Rate to be 99% or more. The result shows Nepal Telecom’s call setup time to be 9.34 seconds, Ncell to have 5.27 seconds and Smart cell having 10.27 seconds setup time.
Similarly, the Call Setup Success rate of Nepal Telecom, Ncell, and Smart Telecom are 90.51 percent, 94.43 percent, and 84.47 percent respectively. So, you can clearly see they don’t meet the criteria of NTA for these parameters. The calls in the test were made for 40 seconds and that too locally within its own network (on-net calls).
As shown in the table below, Ncell is found to perform better among all of the mobile networks in Kathmandu for call setup time and Call setup success rate.
Mobile service provider
Call setup time (seconds)
Call setup success rate (%)
On the other hand, all of the service providers have passed the test result for Call Drop Rate (CDR) that is call disconnection on its own. As per NTA, the Call Drop Rate should be 2 percent or less than that.
In the test conducted by NTA, the Call Drop Rate is only 0.87 percent for Nepal Telecom, 0.2 percent in Ncell, and 0.45 percent in Smart Cell.
Mobile service provider
Call drop rate (%)
Here is a snapshot of the drive test route and result of mobile network quality measurement for Ntc, Ncell and Smart Telecom.
In the snapshot, green points represent the successful calls, red represent the blocked or no communication points. While yellow color shows the places with dropped calls in the report.
It is really sad to see that the country’s top mobile service providers have failed to pass the quality test in the heart of the country. So, we can only imagine the condition of mobile networks in the rural areas of Nepal.
As per NTA, the statistics presented are just a sample of mobile network tests. Though we can infer that mobile network quality is not the best in Kathmandu itself, NTA puts a disclaimer that the data represents network conditions on those places during the drive test period and the network quality at other places might differ.