NEPAL: Surf Net, TV channels via single cable line

Here’s some good news for Internet buffs and those hooked onto to TV channels

The Kathmandu Post
Sunday, December 21, 2003

KATHMANDU, Dec 20 - Here’s some good news for Internet buffs and those hooked onto to TV channels.

The communications and information technology (ICT) sweeping the world is taking firm roots in Nepal too. Soon Kathmanduites can use Internet and watch TV channels through optical fibre cable that will make Internet service cheaper, faster and TV images cleaner.

Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA), the regulatory body of telecoms services, has already awarded licence to Subisu Cablenet Pvt Ltd to operate Internet service through optical fibre cable.

And two more companies - Space Time Internet Pvt Ltd and Pokhara Enet Pvt Ltd - are waiting in the queue. If they qualify in the ongoing technical evaluation, they will get the licence, said an NTA source.

Kailash Prasad Neupane, spokesman for NTA, informed The Kathmandu Post that the licencee should introduce service within three months of acquiring operating licence. Subisu Cablenet obtained the licence last Wednesday.

NTA has also fixed the maximum monthly charge of Rs 2,000, exclusive of value added tax, for unlimited Internet access.

Sudhir Parajuli, CEO of Subisu Cablenet, informed that his company plans to charge a monthly fee of Rs 2,500 for unlimited Internet access with 64 kilobytes per second (kbps) bandwidth plus quality cable service for watching television.

Additionally, a subscriber will have to pay Rs 2,000 in registration fee and Rs 8,000 for a modem in order to subscribe the service.

Parajuli also said that his company aims to distribute over 1,500 lines in the beginning.

The bandwidth of 64 kbps means the speed of Internet through optical fibre cable will be twice as fast compared to that of dial-up connection.

The price is also expected to go down as the new service providers join the race. In fact, one of the beauties of the IT revolution has been that the price has also fallen rapidly keeping pace with technological advancement.

In 1995, when Internet was introduced to Nepal, Mercantile Communications Pvt Ltd charged Rs 15 per minute.

Similarly, when unlimited Internet service was introduced in Nepal just five years ago it cost Rs 5,000 per month. Now it has come down to as low as Rs 1,000.

Even at the current monthly charge, users browsing Internet for more than an hour a day will find the Internet through optical fibre cable a cheaper option. Using telephone alone for an hour during prime time costs Rs 1,800 a month.

Another advantage, the cable line will offer is, it will free telephone line even when you are using the Internet.

If the technology takes root, all the Internet service providers (ISPs) would have to opt either for wireless or cable technology that will free a considerable number of basic telephone lines.

Commenting on the new development, Muni B Shakya, president of Internet Service Providers Association of Nepal (ISPAN), however, expressed confidence that Internet through optical fibre cable would not be a threat to ISPs.

Moreover, the high cost that the Network Service Providers (NSP) charge them would erode their competitiveness, he added.

But he said that Nepal Telecommunications Corporation should provide Asynchronous Digital Subscribers’ Line (ADSL) to the ISPs, which could help them enhance their quality of service.

An NSP charges about Rs 2.2 million to the cable operator for an Internet bandwidth of 1024 kbps.