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Indian Companies Tata and Airtel Warn to Stop Bandwidth to Nepal

Indian companies Tata and Airtel have warned they will stop internet bandwidth to Nepal. As per the Nepali internet Service Providers (ISPs), they are receiving letters with threats after they failed to pay Indian upstream providers 5 months due for bandwidth.

The situation has apparently resulted due to the government failing to provide currency exchange services. The president of Internet Service Providers Association of Nepal (ISPAN) President Sudhir Parajuli says, “the government has not provided recommendations for foreign exchange. This is why our payment to the Indian upstream providers has been delayed.”

“As a result, we are receiving letters warning that the companies will stop sending bandwidth to Nepal if we don’t pay soon”. He adds, “If the government doesn’t step in, there could be a worse situation.”

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Will Indian companies stop bandwidth to Nepal?

It is possible as they are entitled to make a decision from a business standpoint and Nepali authorities might not be flexible either. Parajuli told that MoCIT has stood firm that unless the ISPs pay the amount pointed by the office of the Attorney General from Fiscal Year 2074/75, the government won’t recommend foreign exchange services.

Due to this stubborn stance of the MoICT, Nepali ISPs have not been able to pay the Indian bandwidth providers. Nepali companies have failed to pay around 50 crores each month for the past 5 months.  

As a result, Nepali ISPs are liable for 2 billion rupees to pay to Indian bandwidth providers Tata, Airtel, and Sify. The Technology and Development Committee has already decided to reduce the amount as pointed out by the Attorney General. In this, withholding internet payment is not reasonable, ISPAN chief Parajuli says.

The Attorney General’s Office had pointed out the money earned by the ISPs earned from maintenance after the latter failed to pay their RTDF and royalties to the regulator, NTA.

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MoICT rigid on its stance

Nepali ISPs rely on Indian companies for internet bandwidth. Most of the bandwidth to Nepal comes from Airtel and Tata. After a large sum staying unpaid, they have begun sending letters to Nepali ISPs with a threat to cut off bandwidth to Nepal.  

However, the issue could soon intensify. the MoCIT is firm on not facilitating any payment for the ISPs. Sources are quoting the Ministry’s officers claiming unless the ISPs clear their dues, the government won’t recommend foreign exchange. This hints at a longer and more intense standoff for the internet bandwidth.

Meanwhile, Nepal’s bandwidth has reached 1 Tbps. Among the major ISPs, WorldLink dominates with the highest 300 Gbps bandwidth demands. Other ISPs share a similar range around 100 Gbps. If Indian companies do stop bandwidth to Nepal, it could lead to a meltdown for internet subscribers in Nepal. But we won’t expect such an outage to take place. Because as it leads to a catastrophic disservice to the public and an international embarrassment.

Who is to blame for this scenario, the ISPs or the government? Do share your inputs in the comments below.  

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