KATHMANDU, July 4: Nepal Telecom (NT) is yet to announce global tender for procuring fiber equipment even though it has already been more than nine months since Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA) - the telecom sector regulator - permitted the state-owned operator to lay down optical fiber along the Mid-Hills Highway.
NTA and NT had signed an agreement for the same in September last year. As per the agreement, NT should complete the project within two years. The project will be implemented by utilizing resources of Rural Telecommunication Development Fund (RTDF).
NTA Spokesperson Min Prasad Aryal said that NT should finish the work within the given deadline as the authority would not tolerate any delay in the project.
As per the agreement, NT will lay down optical fiber having capacity to transmit 100GB per second along 2,376-kilometer stretch of the Mid-Hills Highway. NT will lay down 96-core optic fiber along the Mid-Hills Highway, while it will use 48-core fiber to connect district headquarters to the fiber network. The project will cover 32 district headquarters in provinces 1, 2 and 3 in the first phase.“
"The project has to be completed in two years. As it is a strategic project, we will look for alternatives if NT says it won't be unable to complete the task within the stipulated timeframe," Aryal said. "We have already sent a letter to NT, asking the why the work is not making any progress."
The estimated cost of the project is around Rs 4.88 billion.
The government has set a target of providing quality broadband Internet service in all 75 districts.
The agreement with NT is the first phase of the plan which has been divided into three phases, according to Arya. "We have planned to collaborate with other telecom operators to lay down optic fiber in the remaining districts," he said, adding that all telecom operators of the country will benefit once the project is completed.
Meanwhile, Shobhan Adhikari, a joint spokesperson for NT, said that the state-owned operator was committed to complete the work within the deadline. "The tender process is in the final stage. We will start work in full force once the supplier is selected through bidding," he said, adding that NT made detailed study of the project and prepared plan to complete the project within the deadline.
Nepal Telecommunication Authority had established RTDF some 18 years ago as per the provision of the Telecommunications Act-1997. As per the act, telecom operators are required to deposit two percent of their annual income into the fund every year for the development and expansion of the telecommunication sector in rural parts of the country.
However, resources collected in the fund have remained largely unutilized.