Ncell Faces Setback in 5G Testing Approval
Ncell, a prominent private sector mobile service provider company in Nepal, has once again faced a setback in its pursuit of testing 5G technology. During a recent meeting of the radio frequency (allocation and pricing) policy determination committee for telecommunication services, chaired by Minister of Communication and Information Technology, Rekha Sharma, a decision to allow 5G testing was not reached.
Ncell has consistently advocated for the opportunity to test 5G technology, arguing that it should be granted the same competitive status as Nepal Telecom, its government-owned counterpart. The regulatory authority also recommended to the committee that Ncell should be allowed to conduct 5G trials on the basis of fair competition. However, during the last meeting, the matter was not even included on the agenda, as reported by a committee member.
In this meeting, the committee did approve the Radio Frequency (Allocation and Pricing) Policy, 2080 for Telecommunication Services. It has been decided that other proposals, including Ncell’s request for 5G testing, will be discussed in the subsequent committee meeting. This suggests that Ncell’s proposal for 5G testing is likely to be considered in the next committee meeting.
However, the schedule for the next committee meeting remains undecided, and it has been more than two and a half years since the last one. In 2077, the committee, under the leadership of then Minister of Communications, Parwat Gurung, had granted frequencies for 5G testing exclusively to Nepal Telecommunication Company (Nepal Telecom) Limited.
Nepal Telecom received 60 MHz frequency in the 2600 MHz band for 5G testing as per the earlier decision. The company has reported conducting internal 5G testing in cities like Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Birganj. Nevertheless, the general public has not yet had the opportunity to experience these 5G trials, and the regulatory authority has expressed dissatisfaction with the progress, deeming it unsatisfactory.
At the time, Minister Gurung’s decision had halted Ncell, which is a part of the Axiata Group and has experience operating 5G in various countries, from obtaining permission for 5G testing. Ncell has publicly voiced its frustration over not being allowed to conduct 5G testing as planned. The ongoing developments in Nepal’s 5G landscape continue to be a subject of interest and discussion.
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