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Nepal’s telecommunication sector has approximately 43.06 million of subscriptions for voice telephony services according to the MIS report published by Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA) in January 2020. 72.16% of the population use some form of Internet Broadband Service, such as Mobile Broadband (55.30%), Wired Broadband (16.10%) or Wireless Broadband (0.76%). Nepal Telecom or NT (also known as Nepal Doorsanchar Company Ltd – NDCL), Ncell Pvt. Ltd, Nepal Satellite Telecom Pvt. Ltd (NSTPL), Smart Telecom Pvt. Ltd (STPL) and CG Telecom P.L. (STM) are the five telecom and mobile network operators active in Nepal. Nepal Telecom has a 55.39% share in the telecommunications market. Similarly, Ncell owns another 39.75% share, Smart Telecom has 4.85%and other has 0.01%. (Source: MIS Report)

The total coverage of the existing telecom companies within the country indicates a relatively lower network availability in the Karnali Province compared to other provinces in the country. Telecommunication coverage is mainly concentrated in the Bagmati Province and the Terai areas.  

Nepal Telecom is a state-owned telecommunication service provider. The company was the only service provider until 2003 when first private sector operator UTL started providing basic telephony services. The central office of NT is in Kathmandu and it has a presence in 184 locations across the country. It is the largest telecom operator in Nepal in terms of number of staff and presence across the country.  

The number of base transceiver station (BTS) towers gives a picture on coverage of Nepal Telecom service in the provinces: 

  • Sudurpaschim Province has 314 BTS Towers covering 8 districts.
  • Karnali Province has 122 BTS towers covering 8 districts (except Humla and Dolpa*),
  • Central region has 708 BTS covering Bagmati Province and part of Province 2 districts,
  • Eastern region has 720 BTS covering Province 1 and part of Province 2 districts,
  • Western region has 734 BTS covering Gandaki Province and part of Lumbini Province districts,
  • Kathmandu has 579 BTS covering Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur districts of Bagmati Province.

Optical fibre is laid out in the major cities. The network of optical fibre connects cities to neighbouring urban areas. BTS Towers transmit and receive the signal via radio link in and out of the rural districts. Commercial VSAT services are offered in remote and mountainous areas.  

The coverage of the Nepal Telecom’s Voice Telephony service is illustrated via Mobile World Live GSM coverage maps (https://www.gsma.com/coverage/)

United Telecom Ltd. is a consortium of three telecom companies in India and a Nepalese company. UTL’s coverage is illustrated on their Website as  Present Network (http://utlnepal.com/network_and_coverage.php) .  

Ncell Pvt. Ltd. has been working in Nepal since 2004 as the first private mobile operator in the country. NCell’s network coverage  (https://www.ncell.axiata.com/About-Us/Coverage) as illustrated through their infographic.  

Nepal Satellite Telecom Pvt. Ltd. was established in 2008. Currently, it provides services to areas west of Bagmati Province. Nepal Satellite Telecom’s coverage is illustrated on their Website as Our Coverage (https://www.hellonepalgsm.com/about/coverage.php). 

Smart Telecom Pvt Ltd was established in July 2008. It covers 45 districts of Nepal as illustrated by Smart Network Coverage (https://www.smarttel.com.np/network-coverage).  

For more information on telecoms contacts, please see the following link: 4.11 Nepal Additional Services Contact List.


Telephone Services

Is there an existing landline telephone network? 

Yes, in all district headquarters   

Does it allow international calls? 

Yes  

Number and Length of Downtime Periods (on average) 

Clusters of Base Transceiver Station (BTS) Tower form a web of radio link connections. Neighbouring Towers share Traffic load at the time when a Tower malfunctions, which minimizes downtime periods.    

Mobile Phone Providers  

Nepal Doorsanchar Company Limited (GSM, CDMA)  

United Telecom (CDMA) 

Ncell Private Limited (GSM)  

Nepal Satellite Telecom Pvt. Ltd (GSM) 

Smart Telecom Pvt LTD (GSM) 

Approximate Percentage of National Coverage 

98% of Telephone Service is mobile-based services.  

This links shows the telecommunication services and its coverage in Nepal.

Telecommunications Regulations 

Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) is the telecommunications regulatory body of Nepal. It is an autonomous body established in February 1998 in accordance with the Telecommunications Act, 1997 and Telecommunications Regulation, 1998. Its objective is to create a favourable and competitive environment for the development, expansion, and operation of telecommunications services with the private sector participation in Nepal.  

Regulations on Usage and Import 


Regulations in Place? 

Regulating Authority 

Satellite 

Yes  

Nepal Telecommunication Authority  

HF Radio 

Yes  

Nepal Telecommunication Authority 

UHF/VHF/HF Radio: Handheld, Base, and Mobile 

Yes  

Nepal Telecommunication Authority  

UHF/VHF Repeaters 

Yes  

Nepal Telecommunication Authority 

GPS 

Yes  

Nepal Telecommunication Authority  

VSAT 

Yes  

Nepal Telecommunication Authority 

Individual Network Operator Licenses Required?

Yes 

Frequency Licenses Required 

Yes from Nepal Telecommunication Authority 

Existing Humanitarian Telecoms Systems 

Agencies with their own telecommunications systems are United Nations, Nepal Red Cross Society, Nepal Army, Armed Police Force, Nepal Police, major embassies and Asian Development Bank. The most common telecom equipment used is VHF and HF radios, satellite phones, Broadband Global Area Networks, and VSATs. 

The UN agencies operate a telecom system under the same umbrella managed by UNDSS. A common Radio Room is manned 24/7 by radio operators from UNDSS in Kathmandu. Similarly, there is UNDSS Radio Room at Damak in Province 1, which operates from 7 am to 7 pm daily. There are Local Security Assistants (LSA) for eastern and western region as defined by UN security system in the country.

A VHF network is established across the country along the East-West highway. However, for travel in the hilly and mountainous regions, staff have to rely on HF radio and satellite phones. Additionally, mission vehicles are equipped with GSM or satellite tracking systems, HF and VHF mobile radios for communications.  


Internet Service Providers (ISPs)

The six major Telecommunication providers along with 103 other companies are registered as Internet Service providers. List of authorized companies to provide the internet with email service: Internet Service Provider in Nepal (https://nta.gov.np/en/internet-with-email-2/)

Wired Broadband services are provided through coaxial cable or optic fibre. Wireless Broadband services like Wi-Fi and WiMax and Mobile Broadband-like 3G, 4G services are available. Of these services 3G and 4G is the most popular choice among consumers.  

Internet Service Providers 

Are there ISPs available? 

 Yes  

If yes, are they privately or government owned? 

Government - 1  

Private - 108  

Dial-up only? 

No, ADSL and fiber optics 

Approximate Rates (local currency and USD - $) 

Unlimited data
30 Mbps, NPR 1,550/month
60 Mbps, NPR 2,200/month

 15-22$/Month  

Broadband 

  

Max Leasable ‘Dedicated’ Bandwidth 

As specified by the organization’s requirement 


Mobile Network Operators 

Nepal Telecom’s GSM 4G LTE, CDMA2000 (3G, EVDO) and 4G WiMAX services can be accessed by acquiring a SIM card, NT recharge card and USB dongle for WiMAX. SIM cards have to be purchased from NT offices, but NT Recharge cards can be purchased through any retail shop or digitally by using mobile money services.  

NCELL mobile service is GSM 4G LTE standard. NCELLs SIM card could be purchased through NCELL offices particularly in urban areas and SIM recharge cards can be acquired through retails shops or digital mobile money services. Upload speed can be 18 Mbps to 3 Mbps and download speed can be 37 Mbps to 10 Mbps.


Company

Number of Agent Outlets by Area

Network Strength

Contact for Humanitarian or Government Cash Transfer Programmes?

Services Offered (I.e., Merchant Payment, Bulk disbursement, Receive & Make Payment)

Nepal Telecom

Refer to the map

Reliable, but coverage varies within districts

No

No

Ncell Pvt. Ltd

Refer to the map

Reliable, but coverage varies within districts

No

No

United Telecom Limited

Refer to the map

Reliable, but coverage varies within districts

No

No

Nepal Satellite Telecom Pvt. Ltd

Refer to the map

Reliable, but coverage varies within districts

No

No

Smart Telecom Pvt. Ltd

Refer to the map

Reliable, but coverage varies within districts

No

No

For additional information on Mobile Network Operators in Nepal please visit the GSM Association website.  

Link for Nepal Media Survey 2019 and Findings (http://www.sharecast.org.np/nepal-media-survey-2019-findings/)