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CG Telecom is likely to get its long-awaited Unified License for mobile network services. After years of hurdles, the Chaudhary Group subsidiary could start its revolutionary mobile services soon.
After failing to obtain a mobile operator’s unified license, Nepal’s elite business house entered the ISP market with a resounding flare. But it seems, its long call for a mobile license could be soon addressed. As per Techpana, CG’s likelihood has increased as MoCIT prepares to publish the 4-year-old government decision related to CG Telecom on Rajpatra (Nepali gazette).
In a recent development, MoCIT has sought suggestions from the telecom regulator if required into the license agreement.
The Ministry spokesman and joint secretary Binod Prakash Singh says, “License agreement provision has not seen a change for 10 years. If there is a need for any modification, we would. For this, we have sent a request letter to the regulator.”
Singh adds, NTA asked us to inform whether the 4-year-old decision has been published on the gazette or not. We are seeking suggestions on what points we should add when we publish the report soon.”
But Singh says, publishing the report on Rajpatra doesn’t equate to giving CG Telecom its unified license. But when we publish new provisions on Rajpatra, it will be applicable for all the telecom operators. The former decision has stalled for long, we are clearing the old records.”
4 years ago, CG Telecom operated as STM Nepal after its 80% share acquisition into the company. The operator provided telecom services based on VSAT technology. But the regulator clamped down on the license after the company failed to pay its dues to NTA. Then CG Telecom operated with a rural telecom license, not a unified license to run a fixed telephony service in rural areas. It was the company’s initial step en route to obtaining the Unified License.
But the company only incurred disappointments later. NTA had called for an open bid on the Basic Telephone Service license. Smart Telecom and UTL received the unified license, but CG Telecom missed out on it. And. it turned political since then.
CG reached out to the Council of Ministers in 2074. Prachanda’s government announced its approval to grant the company the license with some changes in terms and conditions. CG sought lenience on the frequency charge of 29 crores, reasoning that it never used it for telecom services. This decision derailed their question of the unified license.
But CG gave in and has been paying the 29 crore charge in 5 installments. The Deuba-led government’s Council of Ministers (CoM) had offered this provision for CG but it has not yet been published on Rajpatra due to frequent government changes. Especially, after Gokul Baskota became the ICT minister, CG fell further out of favor.
But once the years-old decision appears on the Rajpatra, NTA would have a clear mandate on CG’s license quest.
The favorable government of Deuba is also raising CG’s probability for its unified license. Binod Chaudhary, the Chair, and president of CG himself is a Congress by political lineation and is an MP too. It seems he has enjoyed a better relationship with Prachanda too who is a key figure in the current government.
Besides, Hello Nepal has seen its license revoked for failing to pay its arrears. Smart Cell is also believed to share the same fate. This has led many to tout that CG Telecom could take over to become the third telco in Nepal. Moreover, the start of its own ISP venture has also raised its stakes as a telecom service provider. We can’t give CG enough credit for transforming Nepal’s fiber broadband. Its launch of a 120 Mbps residential pack has stirred the Nepali internet market and now 3 digit plans are normal and we have up to 1 Gbps internet plan. All this happened in around 6 months. A parallel scenario could also develop in mobile telephone once CG starts its mobile services.
And we can see it happening. Frequency payment, the Ministry publishing the 4 years old CoM decision on Rajpatra, and the favorable government are all pointing in the right direction for CG.
On the other hand, NTA is closely observing MoCIT’s proceedings on CG Telecom’s Unified License approval.
NTA Chief Purushottam Khanal says, “We received a letter from the Ministry. We will offer our suggestions after we make a proper study on the case. But everything proceeds through the board. Without the board’s approval, our process won’t proceed.”
For now, it looks increasingly likely that times are falling into CG’s favor to obtain a unified license. Nepal’s tycoon Binod Chaudhary owned CG Telecom is ambitious to provoke a Jio-like mobile revolution in Nepal. He has trumpeted that if his company starts operating a mobile network, it would offer data at a half-price what people are paying, and the calls will be free. Well the parts of it could have been said in a spirit, but the company has often expressed its desire to mimic Jio and the way the Indian telco has transformed India’s mobile services, we can’t wait for more.
But the road ahead remains. For CG to begin its mobile service, it requires a license and then a frequency spectrum. And all that will follow after the government publishes the prior decision on Rajpatra that will allow a further path for the authority to act.
CG wants to provide the most convenient mobile service on 4G which would also give mobile subscribers a chance to look beyond the current heavyweights Ntc, and Ncell. With Smart Cell likely fading away, CG could soon become a true third competitive telecom operator in Nepal after getting the unified license.
Are the odds at their highest for CG and what are your expectations from the government this time for the company’s fate on mobile service license? Do share your opinions in the comments below.
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