Telecom regulator NTA has revoked the provision that allowed mobile subscribers to buy goods and services online with their mobile balance. The authority has cited the lack of “practical feasibility” behind rescinding on its two years old action plan.
NTA implemented the “Action Plan for Purchasing Goods and Services through Electronic Media” back in 2076. But with the reversal by the regulator, telecom companies are set to face a difficult scenario for their multiple Value Added Services (VAS).
The action plan permits a mobile service subscriber to buy goods or services worth 1 thousand once. Likewise, a user can spend 10 thousand per month on electronic purchases via the mobile balance.
Till now, the telcos have been providing multiple VAS (Value Added Services) complying with the action plan.
The Action Plan conflicts with the Telecommunications Act, 2053 – NTA
Earlier, Ncell, one of the leading telecom companies in Nepal, had sought from NTA to upscale the balance limit to buy online services.
This prompted the regulator to set up a committee to study the action plan in response. It had sought suggestions from the experts in the committee regarding the provisions and possible amendments.
But it resulted in an ironic scenario for the private telco. Instead of increasing the mobile balance limit for electronic payment, NTA reversed the action plan. Now, along with Ncell, Ntc, and Smart Cell will also feel the impact of the decision by NTA.
The committee argued that the electronic payment action plan conflicts with the Telecommunications Act, 2053. And it recommended that NTA repeal it. As per the same report, the regulator decided to revoke the provision at the Board meeting on Ashar 2nd.
And the immediate effect will now fall upon Ncell itself.
The committee found contradictions between the action plan and the country’s governing telecommunications act. For example, the committee has deemed the action plan not clear enough on what purchases can be available through mobile balance. This has allowed telcos to sell goods and services online without restrictions or regulations.
Secondly, the committee states that the action plan doesn’t illustrate enough whether mobile balances could be allowed for electronic payment.
The Telecommunications Act 2053 also states that no adult content can be published or promoted through electronic means. But the article 7 in the action plan allows the selling of adult content. This is another conflicting occurrence between the two sets of provisions.
Meanwhile, the NTA board has said that the current market practices don’t involve telecommunications fees on the purchase of electronic goods or services through ‘other means.
So, the regulator has written a letter to the MoCIT requesting the Government of Nepal (GoN) to arrange for a provision to not impose TSC when purchasing non-telecom content through mobile balance.
Additionally, NTA has also decided to tell service providers to halt their VAS within a month. This directive will apply to telcos that have provided the services as per the action plan in concern.
The action plan states that telecom companies need to mandatorily acquire approval from NTA to continue providing such services. But at first, it is also necessary to inform the regulator before a telco can provide such VAS.
Now, with the decision, operators are likely to find themselves in an awkward state following as NTA has decided to repeal the existing provision.
Ncell has been providing dozens of VAS that charge their fees from the mobile balance of the customers. These services include My5, Astrology Service, Game Spark, App Touch, Business Alert, Lokesewa, and many more.
As per the decision, Ncell will halt its value-added services soon.
NTA barring mobile users to buy services online through their mobile balance will affect many users in the coming days. Do you subscribe to any such service that you buy from your mobile balance? Do let us know in the comments below.