Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MoCIT) Ms. Rekha Sharma said that it’s better to venture towards commercial 5G services only after improving the quality of the existing 4G network. Her remarks come amidst the increased fascination and debate regarding the launch of 5G in Nepal.
Ms. Sharma was speaking on the challenges of 5G at an event in Kathmandu on Thursday, February 23. The minister said that it’s better to first improve 4G quality and ready 5G infrastructure before implementing 5G in Nepal.
She pointed out that despite being years old, 4G coverage hasn’t been good even in Kathmandu. Though the 5G trial has ‘begun’ in Nepal, many remote areas are still without basic communication services. This was her other concern.
A need to study the possible benefits of the investment
Likewise, she opined that a study into whether 4G has benefited the country as per the investment arguing that newer technologies keep arriving but if failed to assess their prospects, resources will only be lost.
Minister Ms. Sharma said, “It is beneficial to launch 5G in Nepal as it brings many benefits”. But she said, “How can we move ahead without knowing the status of 4G? What is the situation of 4G now, how much have we benefited from it?”
She said that a shift of focus towards 5G without knowing the investment in 4G and how much it has brought, there will be more harm than good. Nepal Telecom (Ntc) has started a 5G trial. At the moment, the 5G connectivity is limited to the insiders while the network will expectedly be live for the public soon.
Geography an impediment to telecom services
She admitted that due to complex geography, the upper mountain region is still deprived of telecom services. National Parks and jungle areas have no internet or phone services. At the time of an animal attack, conveying the news of such an incident is difficult, she said.
“We are in a difficult situation geographically for 4G. There are telephone towers on the hill in the rural area, but not in the plains. Calls won’t connect in rural municipality offices. We receive complaints that phone calls just won’t connect in remote areas. Still, telephone service has not yet reached many places,” said ICT Minister Sharma.
Ms. Sharma directed all the units to expand essential telephone services in all the corners of Nepal. She pointed out that people are not able to make calls there and poor signals are noticeable even in the capital.
5G only after better 4G
The minister Ms. Sharma remarked that investment in 5G without improving 4G services could be risky. She also called on the need to protect user data and privacy while adopting newer technologies.
“The country should take a leap in information technology. And for that, the government should build the necessary infrastructure and foundations, she said while maintaining that the government must keep in check the benefits 5G will have in the economy and other matters,” remarked the minister.
Meanwhile, Purushottam Khanal, chairman of the telecom regulator NTA talked of starting a 5G spectrum auction soon. He said that despite not being as expected, the 5G trial has kicked off.
Private telco Ncell is also waiting for trial approval from the regulator.
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