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For the telecom industry in Nepal, 2022 was another exciting year with steady development in the expansion of the cellular network, fiber internet, 4G, and other communication technologies. More users connected themselves to mobile services, while fixed-line broadband based on fiber made its own progress and both operators introduced eSIM in later 2022. While Nepal is also on the brink of launching a 5G network in the trial. In this post, we will detail all the key progress of telecom services achieved in 2022.
The total telephony service reached 140.67 percent in twelve months from the previous 135.00 percent. Which, mobile telephony grew to 137.87 percent from 132.30. Interestingly, fixed-line telephony also raised its number to 2.79 percent from 2.69. With the growth of cellular connectivity, the use of PSTN or wired services has plummeted but 2022 saw a slight growth.
Broadband service is where Nepal saw its tangible growth. In 2022, the total broadband connectivity percentage reached 129.53, up from 110.68 percent in 2021. Mobile broadband remains dominant in this indicator. The ever-growing penetration of smartphones and the lowering cost of mobile data packs have encouraged steady growth in mobile broadband.
In 2021, 82.55 percent of subscriptions were registered in mobile broadband which grew to 94.86 percent by December 2022. Here too, fixed broadband (wired) represents a lower figure than a cellular connection. Counting the data of 3G, 4G, and EVDO users, there are currently 2 crores, 76 lakhs, 92 thousand, and 621 mobile broadband subscribers in 2021. Nepal Telecom (NTC), Ncell Axiata, and Smart Cell provide mobile services in Nepal.
Ntc continues to dominate the 4G arena. The government-backed operator boasts 1 crore, 15 lakhs, 50 thousand, and 181 subscriptions. The private operator Ncell has 67 lakhs, 82 thousand, and 144 subscriptions. Smart Cell has 1 lakh, 31 thousand, and 171 users in 2022.
Telcos continued their mobile service expansion in more remote areas including a plan to start 4G at Everest Base Camp.
|4G users in 2022||4G users in 2021||Growth|
This year also saw Ncell launch VoLTE service which provides HD voice for subscribers. As with broadband 4G, HD calls with VoLTE technology also grew in Nepal. In another highlight for the year, Ncell was awarded the fastest mobile network in Nepal by Ookla.
Check this post to find the latest data on 4G: There are 1.85 Crore 4G Users in Nepal, Ntc Leads Atop
Last year, fixed broadband represented 27.44 percent of subscriptions against 34.44 percent this year in 2022. The growth of fiber internet has contributed to the rise in the number of fixed broadband users. In the same category, fixed broadband (wireless) represents a slim figure for subscriptions.
In a 12-month period, the number of fiber internet users reached 97 lakhs, 45 thousand, and 795 from the previous 76 lakhs, 3 thousand, and 563 subscriptions in 2021. That means fiber connection gained another 21 lakhs, 14 thousand, and 232 new subscriptions. Nta uses a 1:4.32 ratio to calculate the unique users from the total number of fiber internet users. Putting this into perspective, there were a total of 22 lakhs, 53 thousand, and 115 unique fixed-line broadband subscribers.
|Fiber users in 2022||Fiber users in 2021||Growth|
This year will be remembered for another reason the NTA ruled all ISPs must issue separate bills for internet and ITPV services. So far, companies had been billing their customers regarding both internet and digital TV as a single service. Now, they must mention the cost of both services differently in different invoices. It means companies can no longer bundle internet, IPTV, and routers in their billing.
Read in detail about it: ISPs to Issue Separate Bills for Internet and TV Services
The unrelenting effect of the internet speed war in Nepal continued in 2022 and reached its peak. Classic Tech, a fast-evolving ISP launched its 1 Gbps internet package. This was followed by WorldLink’s own 1 Gbps Photon series. Speaking of high-speed packages, most companies now provide at least 3-digit speed packages. The Internet industry has never been this revolutionary and it continues to shock and awe to date.
Likewise, to improve its network capacity, private company WorldLink started work to upgrade its FTTH network to 10 Gbps capable XGS-PON fiber technology. This will also enable the company to deliver the same download and upload speed in Gbps to its over 6 lakh customers.
A total of 58 licensed internet service providers operate their fiber internet service in Nepal. WorldLink, Classic Tech, Vianet, Subisu, and Ntc are the major ISPs with the highest customer base. Among them, WorldLink is the only ISP to touch 6 lakh customers.
This year, more ISPs started providing dual-band routers to align them with high-speed internet plans. As is known, the single-band router is not able to deliver promised speed due to frequency congestion. On the hand, the flexible ‘5G’ router can offer the maximum speed to satisfy the subscribers.
Dish Home brought WiFi 6 technology to Nepal with its Mega-Fi plan. Likewise, Classic Tech’s Tachyon 1 Gbps internet also comes with the WiFi 6 standard.
The next-generation WiFi standard brings higher speed, low latency, and more capacity to connect devices over the existing WiFi technologies.
Check out: WiFi 6 technology standard features
2022 also saw the launch of the country’s first satellite internet service at the expense of Kacific. The wireless service is aimed at connecting rural areas in Nepal especially, hilly and mountain areas.
For counties like Nepal riddled with irregular terrain, satellite broadband paves the way to diversify internet options and help bridge the digital divide.
For 5G, 2022 couldn’t prove to be the year for Nepal however, some developments did take place. Ntc has almost completed its preparation. There was an unsubstantiated news that Ntc could launch its 5G trial on January 1. But it seems the launch date for trial is postponed to later 2023.
At the same time, Ncell that it is ready to start its 5G trial. At a recent conference, the company’s CEO Andy Chong said that the operator is waiting for a go-ahead signal from Nta for its fifth-generation network. Currently, there is no major development for Ncell’s goal for 5G but we can expect the regulator to let it begin the project soon.
Nta’s rural broadband project using RTDF also saw its completion this year. The project sets up a 20 Mbps fiber connection at local levels (in community schools, hospitals, ward offices, etc.) The information highway oversaw negligible progress.
The next-generation SIM technology eSIM also kicked off in Nepal with both Ntc and cell launching their eSIM services. Ntc launched eSIM in September and made it available countrywide in early December. Similarly, Ncell launched its eSIM service in mid-December.
An eSIM is embedded in the device and requires no physical SIM slot. Revolutionary in its technology, eSIM will gradually displace physical SIM slots making more space for phone makers to dedicate the surplus space for other features such as the battery, or display size.
This year too, Huawei continued its Seeds for the Future 2022 campaign for undergraduate Nepali students. The program took 7 students to Bangkok where they were acquainted with emerging technologies such as 5G, cloud computing, metaverse, etc.
Later, the Nepali team which was among the others to win the Teh4Good contest got a chance to visit Singapore to attain more digital experience.
Similarly, Huawei also organized another annual flagship program called Huawei Connect 2022 in Nepal where it showcased the latest in telecom technologies.
At the Nokia Nepal Innovation Day event, Nokia pledged its support to enhance 5G expansion in Nepal. Nemanja Pilipovic, Market Development Lead, Asia-Pacific, said that the company wants to help with reliable and affordable broadband services catering to the unconnected areas around Nepal.
Huawei Connect 2022 event also took place with the theme “Unleash Digital”. At the event, Nicholas Ma, President of Huawei Asia Pacific Enterprise Business Group highlighted ways Nepal could attain digital transformation. He also affirmed Huawei’s continued support for Nepal with cloud and data center infrastructure and other technologies.
The year also saw the government impose a ban on phones costing $300 and above. The government restricted the ban on luxury phones and items in measures to control the outflow of dollars. However, the decision was fiercely contested by traders. It impacted the smartphone business in Nepal. The government lifted the phone ban including other luxury items in early December.
The implementation of MDMS received another postponement after the newly appointed PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” directed NTA to delay it. With the system, the government planned to impose custom taxes on Nepalese who brought two phones into Nepal. After a wide uproar against the decision, the government backtracked from launching it.
The full launch of MDMS is now held back until further notice.
The internet of Things (IoT) has grown further in Nepal in 2022. IoT for vehicle tracking and the electricity smart meter was another talk this year. Likewise, NTA introduced criteria for routers. This will ensure better and standard performance for internet users in Nepal.
In sum, Nepal had another exciting year for the development of the telecom section in 2022 with many positive indicators. 4G, fierce fiber internet war, WiFi technology, and internet all improved in the year while 5G is right on the brink of starting, saved for 2023 now.
Which for you was the most essential development in telecom technology this year? Do share in the comments below and also share if you want to add missing crucial progress.
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