NTA evaluating service providersThe Nepal Telecommunicati-ons Authority (NTA) is likely to complete the evaluation process of the 20 companies that have expressed an interest in launching a satellite for Nepal by March.
The Nepal Telecommunicati-ons Authority (NTA) is likely to complete the evaluation process of the 20 companies that have expressed an interest in launching a satellite for Nepal by March.
The communications satellite will be put in the orbital position allocated to Nepal by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
According to the NTA, a four-member committee started the evaluation process two weeks ago. The panel comprises a representative from the Ministry of Information and Communications and three representatives from the NTA.
“The process has just begun, and we are planning to shortlist the top candidates within a month,” said Purshottam Khanal, director at the NTA.
Last October, the authority issued a notice inviting expressions of interest after the ministry asked it to initiate the process to launch a satellite in August.
Three companies each from the United States, India and China, and two companies each from Singapore and Thailand, have submitted proposals to the NTA. Similarly, a company each from Canada, France, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Israel have submitted proposals.
The NTA had planned to complete shortlisting probable candidates by February-end. However, a delay in the formation of the evaluation committee held up work.
“It took some time to form the committee. It will assess the overall aspects of the 20 companies in the race,” Khanal said, adding that the major eligibility criteria were the company’s financial position, experience in launching satellites and track record.
The 20 companies will be graded in all the areas which will be followed by a comprehensive report with a ranking based on which six companies will be selected.
They will be asked to submit tenders, and the NTA will choose three from among them who best match the NTA’s requirements.
“The applicant that can deliver quality service at an affordable cost will get the contract to launch the satellite,” Khanal said. The Cabinet will make the final decision.
Apart from launching the satellite, the company will have to prepare the modality and operate and maintain it within commercial terms and conditions.
The Nepal government will use part of the satellite’s communications capacity based on necessity. The remaining capacity will be managed by the company. It will pay the government from the business it obtains by using it.
To make sure that the satellite is economically viable, the ministry is devising a guideline making it mandatory for telecommunication service providers and radio and television stations to use it.
The NTA has estimated that launching a satellite will cost around Rs40 billion. Nepal will have to spend another Rs30 billion over the next 15 years to operate and maintain it.
In 1984, the ITU allocated two orbital slots—50 degrees east and 123.3 degree east—to Nepal. They had to be used by 2015, but it did not happen for lack of preparation and the government has written to the ITU requesting it to keep the assigned slots.
So far, 58 countries have launched around 1,000 satellites into space. Russia was the first country to launch a satellite in October 1957.