Internet Service Providers Association of Nepal (ISPAN) has averted a possible nationwide internet shut down over the payment issues. After, a meeting with MoCIT, ISPs will find relief that the government has promised to facilitate the payment process to Indian upstream providers.
The ICT minister Gyanendra Bahadur Karki promised to take tangible action to avert a possible internet blackout at a meeting Tuesday, May 3rd.
On Monday, ISPAN had drawn attention to the possibility of an internet outage in India over Nepali companies’ failure to pay for bandwidth. In March, Indian upstream providers had written a letter warning they could halt bandwidth stream to Nepal if they won’t receive dues.
The government has not provided foreign currency recommendations for ISPs to pay Indian companies. This has resulted in billions of dues over the last 6 months.
Likewise, ISPAN had also warned to boycott National ICT Day 2022 in its protest against the government. As the situation escalated, CAN Federation and Election Commission have asked for the stakeholders to sit for a talk and avert an internet outage. It seems the trouble is under control for now.
ISPAN and MoCIT sat for a bilateral dialogue today May 3rd. At the meeting, ICT minister Karki assured us that he was positive about the demands of ISPAN. He stressed averting the internet shut down in any case.
Both the parties had also met yesterday where the MoCIT expressed its willingness to address the situation in earnest.
Nepali ISPs have not paid the Indian upstream providers for 6 months. This is due to the ICT ministry not recommending dollars exchange citing dues. Nepali ISPs buy their bandwidth from Tata, Airtel, and Sify.
As stated, Nepali ISPs have not paid their dues to Indian companies due to the MoCIT not recommending dollars. But after the meeting, the ministry has assured it will recommend foreign exchange that will pave the way for clearing the bills. However, due to the MoCIT day and the public holiday on May 4th, ISPAN will need to wait till Wednesday”, the former chief of ISPAN says.
The association has continuously voiced its displeasure at the exorbitant tax on telecom services. The ICT minister Karki has hinted at lowering taxes.
The meeting has done much relief to the possibility of internet shutdown as well as averting it for now. But time will tell how the affair between ISPAN and MoCIT pans out as there are still issues left undressed.
It seems clear that Nepal has averted an internet shut down as ISPAN suggests after the meet-up with MoCTI. But ISPAn will have to wait till Wednesday to get dollar recommendations from MoCIT.