Telecommunications authority implements regulation on infrastructure sharing

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The Nepal Telecommunications Authority has implemented the Infrastructure Sharing Regulation, which is expected to ease the financial burden on service providers and lower costs, even as Nepal prepares to roll out 5G wireless service.

Infrastructure sharing is a concept in which multiple telecommunications companies use the same system, such as towers and fiber optic networks, to deliver their services, eliminating the need to build and invest in individual facilities. .

The new regulations allow service providers to share their shareable infrastructure.

“The infrastructure sharing policy will certainly reduce costs for telecommunications operators, improve network coverage and quality, and improve prices,” said Purushottam Khanal, chairman of the telecommunications regulator.

Sudhir Parajuli, chairman of the Nepal Internet Service Providers Association and chairman of Subisu Cable Net, said the new provision would have both short and long term impacts.

“The immediate impact is that it will increase Internet penetration with stable connections. Ultimately, the provision will reduce the double investment cost of service providers; as a result, prices for telecommunications and the Internet will be competitive, ”Parajuli said.

Considering the size of the network and infrastructure required to support 5G, the investment is expected to run into billions of rupees. However, once a company develops the infrastructure, it can share it with others, which will reduce their capital spending, industry insiders have said.

Rajesh Joshi, spokesman for state-owned giant Nepal Telecom, said the new regulations would lower the cost of the investment and lower the price for consumers as a result. “But sharing the infrastructure is not an easy task. We cannot immediately calculate the impact of the new regulation on consumer prices, ”Joshi said.

Due to the difficult terrain of Nepal and frequent natural disasters, services have been repeatedly interrupted in many places, but the provision of infrastructure sharing will help ensure a stable internet connection for businesses facing financial problems, insiders said.

The country’s Internet service providers have long called for the establishment of an infrastructure sharing arrangement.

“Only shareable infrastructure can be shared by service providers. It’s mandatory, ”Khanal said. “Many infrastructures that connect neighborhoods and facilities in large cities are currently shareable. This provision will also help the country to save on the import of telecommunications equipment, ”he added.

Sharing the infrastructure will not lead to any degradation in the technical quality of the service provided, and service providers must keep the facilities in good condition as common users can complain about a decline in quality. Owners of shared infrastructure can charge compensation for its use, he added.

According to Khanal, the authority carried out a detailed study to determine whether the common infrastructure can be shared or not, and it concluded that this will have no impact on the quality.

“We need to do a case study of the infrastructure we currently have to see if it supports sharing or not,” Joshi said. “Any new infrastructure installed must be shareable,” he added.

Telecommunications infrastructure such as fiber optic network, wireless network, tower, shelter, building and land can be shared. The government has set two types of maximum monthly prices: one for network projects financed by the Rural Telecommunications Development Fund and the other for the service providers’ own networks.

According to the regulation, service providers must provide the telecommunications infrastructure on a first come, first served basis without any discrimination.

Common users must use the telecommunications infrastructure within three months or the agreement will be canceled.

The service provider that owns the telecommunications infrastructure should not impose restrictions on its use by other service providers or delay the conclusion of an agreement.

Permission will be given to use the telecommunications infrastructure in the area concerned only.

Shareable equipment can be used jointly by two or more telecommunications service providers according to mutual agreement, and they must notify the authority of the agreement.

Telecommunications infrastructure taken by the service provider from the authority should not be handed over to other service providers for reuse.

The charge for the use of telecommunications infrastructure should not be higher than that set by the authority. The service provider must submit the details of infrastructure sharing charges whenever requested by the authority.

According to the regulations, any type of conflict between the service provider owning the telecommunications infrastructure and the common users will be resolved by a sub-committee formed by the authority if it receives a request from any party.

The end of the infrastructure sharing contract will be done according to the agreement between the service providers.

The service provider that owns the telecommunications infrastructure should not enter into any agreement with another service provider by terminating the agreement with existing users and providing the same infrastructure and type of service.

Each service provider should publish detailed information about the telecommunication infrastructure which can be jointly used on their official website and renew the information monthly. The service provider with a telecommunications infrastructure must disclose its assets.

According to the Trade and Export Promotion Center, the country imported telecommunication equipment and parts worth Rs 42.76 billion in the first 11 months of the previous fiscal year, a sharp increase of 68 % year-on-year. Imports during the same period of the previous fiscal year amounted to Rs 25.44 billion.

According to rough estimates, spending on infrastructure consumes up to 60% of the spending of companies providing telecommunications services.

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