NT and Ncell race for 3G in Nepal

Nepal Telecom (NT) and Ncell – Nepal’s largest mobile operators by subscribers – are competing to roll out 3G networks across the country, according to local sources.

Due to increased demand for faster mobile internet speeds in Nepal, the two companies were this week reported to be racing to deploy their services.

State-owned NT is said to be installing around 4.6 million additional 3G service lines in the country, while its rival, Ncell, has been expanding its 3G service area beyond its existing urban footprint.

Both cellcos are thought to be using HSPA-based technologies, enabling them to offer download speeds of 7.2Mbps.

NT’s existing 3G offering covers Banepa, Lumbini, Pokhara, Baglung and the Kathmandu valley, where the company said it has installed equipment on 229 mobile towers to enable the extra 4.6 million lines.

Ncell claims to have grown its 3G network to include over 20 cities since its launch in 2010 and told reporters that it is now “focussing on service expansion in semi-urban and other areas”.

The Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) said that both NT and Ncell have made a notable shift from basic voice to mobile data services in the last year.

Both NT and Ncell are said to have asked the NTA fo spectrum for the eventual roll-out of 4G services in the country, but a decision on spectrum allocation is yet to be made.

In October last year, NT received approval from the Nepalese government to sell a 30% stake in the company to a strategic partner.