KATHMANDU, March 31: Internet service providers have said that they cannot provide 25% discount on Internet service as announced by the government unless they receive subsidy or any other support from the government.
Bhor Raj Bhatta, president of Internet Service Providers Association Nepal (ISPAN), said the government took the decision without holding any consultation with the association. “The government may have took the decision to provide some relief to people amid lockdown, . But, we are not in a situation to provide discount now. The COVID-19 outbreak has hit all the sectors including the Internet service providers,” he added.
The government on Monday asked ISPs to provide 25% off on Internet service and mobile data packages amid the lockdown.
Meanwhile, ISPs say that Internet usage has increased by 25% after the lockdown started. According to ISPAN, daily Internet usage has increased to 500 GB compared to 400 GB on a normal day.
“Our subscribers can use unlimited data. But we, the ISPs, have to pay on the basis of bandwidth consumed. Increased bandwidth means additional expenses for us,” Bhatta said, asking: “How can we provide discount in this situation?”
State-owned telecom operator can provide discount, but we cannot provide discount unless are provided subsidy or other support, he added.
Last week, Nepal Telecom Authority (NTA) instructed GSM operators to provide their subscribers credit balance of up to Rs 200 if they run out of balance. Following the decision, Nepal Telecom and Ncell have already announced up to Rs 200 credit balance facility. Likewise, Nepal Telecom is providing 100% bonus on top-up, while Ncell is giving 120% bonus. Nepal Telecom has also announced to extend bill payment deadline for its ASDL and landline customers.
“As telecommunication has been listed in essential services by government, we have to provide our services even during the time of crisis. We have to provide extra allowance to our employees to motivate them as no one wishes to stay away from their family and work in this situation of pandemic,” Bhatta said, adding that privately-owned ISPs will be in a position to provide discount to customers if they get some relief from the government.
However, state-owned Nepal Telecom has said that it was discussing on the proposal to provide 25% discount on Internet and mobile data packages. “We respect the decision taken by the government. NT is likely to take decision to this extent on Tuesday,” Rajesh Joshi, the spokesperson for Nepal Telecom, said.