NT to begin IP upgrade; 3G licence row one step nearer to being settled

18 Jul 2014

Nepal Telecom (NT) is to begin switching its fixed line network from PSTN to internet protocol (IP) technology during the new 2014/15 fiscal year which began on 16 July. The firm says that within three years it will be providing advanced voice, data and TV services over its upgraded fixed networks. A report from local newspaper Republica says NT is hoping the new services will help push up its fixed subscriber base from the current level of around 650,000 to over one million, while also bringing in increased revenue per line. A tender to find a supplier for the network upgrade is to be opened within the next month.

Meanwhile, NT has paid NPR740 million (USD7.6 million) to the regulator, the Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA), to settle the bulk of its outstanding 3G licence fees, which have been at the centre of a long-running disagreement between the two parties. In January 2013 NT paid NPR480.7 million to cover the fees from March 2010, when it launched commercial 3G services, to the end of the 2011/12 financial year, but the NTA said it should have paid NPR1.44 billion dating back to the licence award in late-May 2006. Although the latest payment has settled the bulk of the outstanding amount, it does not include the NPR240 million demanded by the NTA for the 2006/07 fiscal year, the Himalayan reports. While the regulator is seeking the full annual licence fee for that year, NT says that it should only be charged a fee for the month-and-a-half between the licensing date and the end of the financial year in mid-July. Separately, the NTA has confirmed that both NT and its mobile market rival Ncell have paid the second installment of their GSM licence renewal fees. The operators are each required to pay NPR2.5 billion per year over an eight-year period and the fees for 2013/14 have now been settled.

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