National regulator Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) has renewed the operating licence of privately owned alternative operator Nepal Satellite Telecom (NST), which offers services under the banner Hello Nepal, for the next five years. Further, the watchdog has confirmed that it has extended the time the regional service provider has to complete the second phase of its expansion into the Far- and Mid-western regions, by twelve months. At a meeting last week, NTA director Ananda Raj Khanal convened a committee to make ‘essential decisions’ on the market, in lieu of Nepal having appointed a new chairman to run the authority as per the rules of its setting up.
Under the terms and conditions of its licence award in February 2008, NST was originally required to roll out CDMA and/or GSM services in rural areas of the country which, upon completion, would make it eligible to expand nation-wide. Under phase one of its rollout, the altnet committed to deploying services in 273 Village Development Committees (VDCs) in the Mid-western region. Having signed a contract with ZTE of China in July 2012, the telco said it was hopeful of completing phase two of its rollout and launching services by March this year. However, its timetable was derailed due to external factors – including the timely allocation of spectrum, due to ongoing internal administration issues at the NTA.