The Supreme Court has dismissed all the writs filed by United Telecom Limited (UTL) including those for the information highway project and its license revocation from Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA). This releases the critically important Information Highway project of NTA from the non-operational telecom company after seven years of no progress.
According to the Supreme Court, the writ filed on behalf of UTL and Space Teleinfra Private Ltd. was dismissed by the joint bench of Justice Prakashman Singh Raut and Abdul Aziz Muslim. The operator earned the contract to build an optical fiber backbone project in Gandaki and Lumbini provinces in 2074. However, as UTL continued to struggle with its finances. Additionally, since its telecom services were down, the project showed zero progress. The contract was worth Rs 2 billion and was supposed to be completed in two years.
UTL had transferred the contract to Teleinfra after failing to meet its obligations. Unfortunately, this company failed to deliver any progress on the project.
UTL Loses Writs on Information Highway Projects and License Revocation
Earlier, the telecommunication regulator NTA had openly decided to terminate the contract after concluding that the responsible company wouldn’t be able to fulfill the project on time. In response, UTL had filed a writ at the Supreme Court on 2076 Baisakh 27. The Supreme Court has rejected the very writ. This decision now lets NTA return its funds worth Rs 40 crore in bank guarantee from Kumari Bank. The sum was deposited for mobilization expenses for the project.
After this new development, MoCIT and NTA will have a freewheel to act on the mid-hill information highway project. For the unaware, the mid-hill optical fiber project is part of a much broader plan from the government to connect the unconnected parts of the country. When complete, the broadband infrastructure could be shared with other companies- telecom companies and internet service providers (ISPs). Purposely, it helps to improve and expand telecom services in various parts of the country. Recently, NTA completed a mid-hill optical fiber broadband project in Koshi province with Nepal Telecom. Also called the backbone project, the optical fiber project could prove to be a milestone in extending communication access across the country.
No favor regarding license revocation
In the meantime, the NTA has also revoked UTL’s license for telecom services. The regulator took action after the telco failed to pay its license renewal charges and other fees. In 2069, the company received a favor from the cabinet to pay its arrears in 8 installments. The company has hardly managed to clear its dues relating to license renewal fees, frequency, RTDF, royalties, etc. The SC has rejected UTL’s writ against its license revocation.
It’s now very likely that NTA will hand over the mid-hill optical fiber project to Nepal Telecom for the Lumbini and Gandaki Provinces. What is your opinion on the Supreme Court finally giving its verdict on UTL clinging on the mid-hill information highway project? Should the court have expedited its decision much earlier to accelerate the project? You can offer your opinion in the comment section below.
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