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An HoR Committee Demands Free Telephone Service for Citizens

Demand for free telephone service is raised in a parliamentary committee meeting. While discussing telecommunication services with stakeholders, the members of the Development and Technology Committee of HoR (House of Representatives) called for a cost-free telephone service for all citizens.

The meeting took place on Thursday, July 28th at Singha Durbar in which the quality of Nepal Telecom (Ntc) services was also discussed. On this occasion, members of the committee asked for free telephone service.

“Telephone service is free in many countries. There should be arrangements for this in Nepal too”, suggested MP Ram Bahadur Bista.

The idea of free telephone service for all citizens sounds very appealing. However, it doesn’t look possible at the moment. In recent years, since Covid-19 particularly, telecom companies have not performed strongly with finances. Major operators have registered continuous falls in profits including lower Average Revenue Per User from Nepali subscribers in recent years. In light of this, it looks more wishful thinking than anything else to get free telephone service.

But we would all love cost-free telephone calls. We hope this scenario materializes in the near future.

NTA Chair wants approval for telecom towers on government buildings

On the same occasion, NTA Chairman Purushottam Khanal demanded arrangements to set up cell towers on government buildings.

Due to the concerns over exposure to electromagnetic radiation from cell towers, many house owners hesitate to allow telecom companies to set up the towers on their buildings. It has telcos hurt service expansion and even compromised the quality of services in urban areas. To address this, Mr. Khanal raised the idea of installing base stations on government buildings.

He shared that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find locations for new towers, especially in cities. Therefore, he urged for an arrangement to erect the towers on government buildings.

The NTA supremo also called on the committee to direct the authorities to build new government buildings that make it feasible to install cell towers on them.

Also see: NTA to Study Electromagnetic Radiation Effect from Cell Towers

The committee consents

The suggestion put by NTA chairman was promptly accepted by the committee. The committee directed the concerned ministries to construct buildings in a way that makes it easy for setting up mobile hardware. The committee asked the concerned ministries to draft the criteria and facilitate their implementation for cell tower installations.

“Taking into consideration, the growing difficulties to remove even towers installed on the houses of citizens, the committee directs the Office of the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers of Nepal, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, and the Ministry of Urban Development to arrange for the implementation of the necessary criteria to help set up telecom towers on buildings constructed by the agencies of Nepal’s government,’ the meeting’s decision states.

Telecom Towers Kathmandu
Cell towers from different carriers set up in close proximity in Kathmandu

Similarly, Sunil Poudel, MD of Nepal Telecom (NTC) teased the idea of employing small and lightweight cell towers for network expansion amidst the difficulty of finding houses for setting up towers.

The committee demands action plan for the improvement of telecom services

Likewise, the committee has directed MoCIT to draft an action plan to improve the service quality of Ntc. The ministry asked to prepare and submit its action plan in 15 days.

At the meeting, the members of the committee relayed issues of poor signal, failed calls and data, etc.

On Poush 19, the committee had asked for an action plan to install more towers to speed up the 4G network expansion. The action plan included the roadmap for the expansion of 4G in the remaining 43 local levels, and the setting up of 228 towers. The government had initially planned to start the fourth-generation cellular network by FY 077/78.

Check out: 4G users in Nepal; Ntc, Ncell and Smart Cell’s Market Share

The Development and Technology Committee Chair Kalyani Kumari Khadka remarked that the earlier directive was not followed. She sarcastically directed the ministry to ‘resubmit’ its action plan to the committee.  

At the discussion, Ntc MD Mr. Poudel shared a progress report and challenges the company is facing. He produced details of the company’s 2G, 3G, and 4G expansion and capacity, and upgradation of dated transmission equipment to new devices. His report also included the telco adding more bandwidth to transmission networks operated by microwave links.

Telecom service has expanded across the country however, many areas are still left unconnected. Meanwhile, services from available areas are also not meeting the standards as per the NTA’s set standards.

Check out: NTA’s Mobile Service Quality Report Shows Dismal Performance

What is your take on free telephone service and the network of cell towers around you? You can share your opinion on both in the comments section below.

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