The Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) is preparing to invite requests for proposals (RFPs) to auction spectrum for WiMax technology known as wireless broadband access. The technology allows service operators to provide voice and high speed internet service even in remote areas.
The telecom regulator has assigned 30 MHz of spectrum to Nepal Telecom (NT) without competition based on the decision of the of Radio Frequency Policy Determination Committee under the Ministry of Information and Communications. The NTA is presently preparing to assign spectrum to one private sector telecom operator and one internet service provider (ISP) company through an auction.
The government has fixed the base price of Rs 800,000 per 5 MHz for the auction of WiMax spectrum. Three months ago, the committee had decided to assign spectrum to two telecom operators including NT and to an internet service provider to provide WiMax technology-based services. Being a state-owned company, NT was provided spectrum without an auction. However, NT will be charged the fee quoted by the telecom operator obtaining spectrum through the auction.
“We are planning to issue RFPs within a month,” said Bhesh Raj Kanel, chairman of the NTA. He added that the telecom operator obtaining spectrum through the auction would be able to provide both data and voice services while the ISP would provide data service only.
The NTA has allocated 2.3 GHz and 3.3 GHz band for offering WiMax tech-based voice and data services. According to the provision set by the committee, the annual spectrum fee for WiMax spectrum will be Rs 300,000 per MHz for an internet service provider. Similarly, the charge for the telecom operator and NT has been set at Rs 7 million per MHz per year. NT has speeded up work on WiMax by calling global tenders with a focus on broadband service for rural areas. It has set a target to bring WiMax services to all the village development committees (VDC) in the country by the end of 2012. “Since we have already been assigned the needed spectrum, we are working to make available 200,000 lines for the rural sector,” said Surendra Prasad Thike, deputy managing director and spokesperson of NT. He added that the company had been making preparations to award contracts to eligible vendors.
Immediately after the government’s decision to allocate spectrum for WiMax services, NT had invited tenders to establish wireless broadband access using WiMax in 2.30-2.40 GHz band to every VDC and municipality in Nepal with a minimum data rate of 256 kbps for downlink and 256 kbps for uplink. NT will award the contract for the West and East Network within a week having a capacity of a total of 100,000 subscribers.
NT aims to provide a broadband network solution through this project which is envisaged to be capable of providing quad-play services of voice, data, video and mobility. The vendor wining the contract for the West Network will build a network covering 1,923 VDCs and 24 municipalities in Gandaki, Lumbini, Dhaulagiri, Rapti, Bheri, Karnali, Seti and Mahakali zones. Similarly, the network to be built in the East section will cover 2,092 VDCs and 34 municipalities in Bagmati, Narayani, Janakpur, Sagarmatha, Koshi and Mechi zones, according to NT.