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Smart Telecom to get unified license today

KATHMANDU, APR 14 - Smart Telecom will get the unified telecom licence on Monday, as per the decision of the government. After getting the licence, the company plans a ‘soft launch’ of its GSM mobile service in the Kathmandu valley within the next eight months.

A board meeting of the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) on Thursday decided to issue the unified telecom licence to United Telecom Limited (UTL) and Smart Telecom to offer them a level playing field and make the market more competitive.

Immediately after the decision, Smart Telecom on Friday approached the NTA to pay the licence fees.

“We have paid a total of Rs 200 million as licence fee and first instalment of the licence renewal fee,” said Smart Telecom CEO Subash Bajracharya. “We have also furnished bank guarantee of Rs 420 million as per the condition set by the regulator.”

The government’s decision regarding the “basic telecom service”, also known as unified licence, requires telecom companies to pay a fee of Rs 357.50 million to get the licence.

Also, prospective telecom companies have to pay the first instalment (Rs 50 million) of the total licence renewal fee Rs 20.13 billion, as per the condition set in the new spectrum policy.

The NTA communicated with both UTL and Smart Telecom on Friday asking them to pay the necessary fees and collect the licence. NTA officials said as almost

all preparations are over, the NTA will issue the licence to Smart Telecom on Monday. They also said UTL was likely to clear the fees on Monday.

In the initial phase, Smart Telecom plans to invest around Rs 4.50 billion for network expansion. Bajracharya said they plan to “soft launch” their service in the Kathmandu valley within the next six-eight months.

Smart Telecom had acquired its first licence to deliver telecom services in 398 VDCs of four development regions — central, western, mid-western and far-western.

It latter expanded the service to other districts after obtaining the license for limited mobility service. The company currently has around 600,000 customers.

Former NTA Chairman Bhesh Raj Kanel said the new licence provision will help ensure better services at cheaper rates by ending the “duopoly” of Nepal Telecom and Ncell.

“We can expect a great leap forward, mainly in the service quality,” he said, adding that since service quality of telecom companies has remained below the standard level, new players will have to offer better services to attract customers.

In May last year, the government had introduced the provision of unified licence, by publishing a notice in the Nepal Gazette.

This new licensing regime is targeted at granting permission to small operators — UTL, Smart Telecom, STM Telecom Sanchar and Nepal Satellite Telecom — to provide multiple telecom services, including cellular mobile, fixed line and international long distance calls, under a single license.


Posted on: 2013-04-15 10:07

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