Ncell permitted to launch 4G through existing frequencies: NTA

Published On: May 9, 2017 12:40 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, May 9: Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) has said that it permitted Ncell to run 4G service using existing frequency from June 1 as per direction of parliament's Development Committee. 

Responding to a question on why it permitted Ncell to roll out 4G service raised by the parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC), NTA said that Ncell has been allowed to provide fourth generation telecommunications service in 900 MHz and 1800 MHz frequencies in the spirit of 'technology neutrality'.

NTA has provided new frequencies to Nepal Telecom (NT) to provide 4G service.

In a letter sent to the PAC through the Ministry of Information and Communications on Sunday, NTA said that it has not provided new frequency to Ncell for 4G service.

The direction of the Development Committee goes against the PAC's decision to bar Ncell from rolling out 4G service until it pays capital gains tax (CGT) to the government. 

The tax amount, however, is yet to be assessed.

Under technology neutrality, NTA has increased frequency fee for 900 MHz to Rs 24 million from existing Rs 12 million. Likewise, it has raised frequency fee for 900 MHz to Rs 18 billion from Rs 8 million.

The Development Committee, two weeks ago, had directed NTA for allowing Ncell to roll out 4G service, saying that general consumers have been affected by the decision to prevent the operation for launching next generation telecommunications service.

The decision, however, has surprised members of PAC. They have already met with Speaker Onsari Gharti Magar to draw the latter's attention toward the contradictory direction issued by the Development Committee. 

“We had barred Ncell to roll out 4G service. But the Development Committee has breached our authority,” PAC member Ram Hari Khatiwada argued. “Our decision to bar Ncell from launching new service was to pile pressure on the operation to pay outstanding taxes to the government. But the decision of the Development Committee has made things easier for Ncell,” Khatiwada added.

Ncell has been arguing that the responsibility of clearing CGT lies on the seller -- Swedish firm TeliaSonera. 

TeliaSonera has already left the country.

Upon the request of Ncell, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, in the first week of April, tried to get a proposal to recover CGT from TeliaSonera passed from the cabinet. Dahal, however, had to backtrack after the move drew wide public criticism. PAC even questioned the Prime Minister and Finance Minster on why the task, which has to be performed by a tax officer, was taken to the cabinet.

Malaysian telecom giant Axiata bought majority stake in Ncell from TeliaSonera at around US$ 1.03 billion in April last year. 

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