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After Kathmandu, Ntc to start the 5G trial in Pokhara and Birgunj

State-backed operator Nepal Telecom (NTC) has started its 5G trial in Pokhara and Birgunj after its inaugural in Kathmandu. The telco installed the necessary infrastructure in one tower each in two cities to switch on the most advanced cellular network. But just like in the capital, the trial will be internal meaning the public won’t have access to the fifth-generation network as yet.

With the launch in Pokhara and Birgunj, the telco has begun its 5G in Bagmati, Gandaki, and Madhesh Province. The company’s spokesman Shobhan Adhikari said that the telco plans to test the network in the remaining four provinces.

“We have not received the import license to bring the telco gears to start the 5G test in Koshi, Lumbini, Karnali, and Sudurpaschim provinces. We didn’t obtain the approval till yesterday. But we may get it soon,’ Adhikari continued, ’till now, it has not been decided in which place 5G will be tested. However, now the beginning is at the telecom office. 5G will be installed in the office structure (tower).

The public will still need to wait for access. The company has insisted that 5G will be commercial only after the test is successful. However, the “lack of sufficient 5G devices” is blamed for the delay in the public rollout.

The telco’s long-anticipated 5G trial began on Magh 2022, its 19th anniversary day from Babarmahal and Sundhara. But the ultra-high-speed network is not to be ready for public access yet. So far, Ntc 5G is under testing among its employees.

5G trial is actively ongoing

Regarding the progress for Ntc 5G, the company’s Managing Director (MD) Sunil Paudel had this to say at the company’s 19th-anniversary event, “The trial of 5G is ongoing by connecting various devices to the 5G network. Since the mobile service currently operating under GSM technology and the new 5G services are technically operated with different architectures, we are still determining whether the infrastructure and equipment currently in use in the company will be compatible/not compatible, should/should not be upgraded, should/should not be replaced in order to operate 5G commercially in the future”.

NTC MD Sunil Paudel 19th anniversary 5G
NTC MD Sunil Paudel speaking on the company’s 19th anniversary day

So, it is still not known when the high-speed network will go live for public use. However, we can speculate 5G to be available for public trial once a handful of devices are compatible with its network.

Earlier, the government-backed operator called off its 5G trial due on (Poush 17) January 1 citing the lack of 5G-supported handsets. But even though it’s just a trial, Ntc is expanding the network to more cities. Check out: Best 5G Phones In Nepal | Midrange to Flagship | 2023

Ntc to start with NSA 5G and then shift towards SA architecture

For its initial 5G trials, Ntc will start off with Non-standalone (NSA) architecture and then gradually implement Standalone architecture (SA). The former allows the telco to switch on its fifth-generation network on existing 4G LTE infrastructure with updated software on the core. The company has already installed two sites in Babarmahal and Sundhara ready for the 5G network. The telco is currently testing available 5G devices on the network from Babarmahal and Sundhara. It has also set up all the necessary equipment at the two sites.

5G will bring extremely fast bandwidth capacity over the current and previous-generation mobile networks. 5G can deliver up to 10x times faster data speed than 4G, which is around 1 Gbps in an ideal environment.

Also check: Best 5G Phones in Nepal | Flagship to Midrange

Trial in all seven provinces

The 5G trial of Ntc will be free to all during the trial. The company’s spokesman, Mr. Adhikari, shared, “It is just a test for 5G. Since it is just a trial, everyone with a compatible handset can freely use the coveted network on their devices for free. Both users and the service provider will experience something new with the latest mobile network. It will also form the basis for its expansion in Nepal,” he added.

5G network

After starting off in Kathmandu (Bagmati), and then Pokhara (Gandaki) and Birgunj (Madhesh) respectively, Ntc is preparing for the trial of the flagship 5G network trial in selected locations in the remaining provinces.

The operator received approval and the spectrum from Nta over a year ago. With the approval, the government-backed telco stepped up its effort to bring the fifth-generation mobile network to life. It is becoming the first operator in Nepal to start the revolutionary cellular communication standard.

Likewise, Ntc is also importing 5G gear from abroad. It is identifying places from each province suitable for the trials.

Learn here: 5G SA vs NSA: How Each Deployment Differs, Pros and Cons

Gear vendors to contribute

So far, Ntc has been in talks with the telco equipment vendors to speed up the trial process. At the same time, the telco is also ruthlessly expanding its 4G network across the country. It is stated that the assurance of the 4G gear vendors was the reason the ministry opted for the countrywide 5G trial.

ZTE and Huawei had earned the contract to build a 4G network for NTC. So, it is known that both companies will provide the 5G gears in different locations. The efforts should show the results in the coming months after the first phase of trials goes live inside the capital.

As 5g is likely to go through all seven provinces during the trial phase, it seems confirmed that people in select areas in all seven provinces will get to taste 5G speed on their devices soon.

Don’t miss: Nokia Nepal Innovation Day 2022 Held, Help Nepal for 5G

Mid-band 2.6 GHz spectrum

Ntc operates its 5G network in the 2600 MHz band, called the mid-band spectrum in the 5G glossary. The telco received 60 MHz frequency bandwidth which serves a decent mix of both coverage and speed potential.

5G is the next-generation cellular technology that will succeed today’s 4G network. 5G network will arguably bring a significant transformation in mobile broadband with potential applications in health, education, manufacturing industries, etc. The network’s high speed and low latency mean interactive activities via the internet will see a remarkable improvement.

Check out: Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max Available in Nepal | Specs & Price

Trial locations

After the first phase of trials in Kathmandu, the second phase will begin in Birgunj, Pokhara, Nepalgunj, Biratnagar, and other cities. More areas in other provinces will follow as the plan involves all seven provinces. For rural settlements, a few rural municipalities will be selected around Kathmandu that will enjoy the free test of the 5G broadband.

The company will also assess the possible use cases of 5G and its market demands when the trial starts.  

When will people get 5G access?

The company has not offered any estimate on when it will allow the public to access its high-octane 5G network but it should take a while. The delay is caused by the reality that there are extremely few 5G devices in Nepal. Once the number of compatible handsets grows, the company should roll it out for free for its customers.

Check out: 4G Vs 5G Mobile Network; Which One To Choose?

Do you think 5G is essentially required in Nepal with the current-generation 4G network seemingly fulfilling our most internet needs or do you think it is inevitable with the expanding use cases of the broadband network? Do share your perspective in the comments below.

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