Data segment outdoes voice in growth rateThe growth rate of the data segment has surpassed that of the voice segment for the first time, pointing to a major shift in expansion trends in Nepal’s telecommunications sector.
The growth rate of the data segment has surpassed that of the voice segment for the first time, pointing to a major shift in expansion trends in Nepal’s telecommunications sector.
The latest Management Information System (MIS) data published by the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) shows that the data segment swelled 18.17 percent in December 2016 from the same period in the previous year.
The NTA report shows that 13.8 million people had subscribed to data service as of mid-December 2016 against 11.6 million in the same period in 2015.
The voice segment witnessed a growth of 16.17 percent year-on-year. The number of voice service subscribers rose from 25.96 million to 30.3 million during the review period.
The use of data in Nepal has been increasing constantly with more people using social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter and communication platforms like Viber, Messenger, WhatsApp and WeChat, among others.
Private sector leader Ncell witnessed a growth in data service subscribers of 22.28 percent within a year (December 2015 to December 2016). Ncell had 4.92 million data subscribers as of mid-December 2015. By the end of 2016, the figure had risen to 6.01 million.
“This is a global trend, and Nepal has been seeing similar rapid growth,” said Milan Mani Sharma, corporate communications expert at Ncell, adding that several factors including enhanced accessibility had played a key role in propelling the growth of data segment. “By accessibility, I mean expansion of network as well as affordability.”
Ncell, the largest private sector telecom service provider in the country, posted a 2.4 percent growth in revenue in 2016, driven by a significant rise in its data receipts. The company generated Rs58.65 billion in revenue for the year, up from Rs57.26 billion in 2015, according to the financial report of Ncell’s parent Axiata.
The Malaysian company has attributed the ‘strong performance’ to higher growth in data revenue. In 2016, Ncell’s data revenue surged 70.3 percent with data accounting for 15.9 percent of its total revenue.
With the data segment emerging strong, telecom service providers have been increasing their focus on data-based offers and schemes. Ncell and NT, the two major players, have even slashed data prices in a bid to attract more users.
Ncell has sweetened the deal by offering free connection to social media platforms—Facebook, Twitter—and Wikipedia on its network.
Though state-run Nepal Telecom (NT) lags behind Ncell in terms of growth rate in the data segment, it is still the biggest player with 7.67 million subscribers, up from 6.66 million in mid-December 2015.
The state-run company witnessed a growth in the data segment of 15.14 percent year-on-year.
With NT introducing 4G service in a pilot phase in Kathmandu and Pokhara in January 2017, the company has been witnessing a brisk growth in the number of data subscribers.
“We aim to post a solid growth in the data segment in 2017 as we plan to expand 4G service to all the major cities across the country,” said Prativa Vaidya, spokesperson for NT.
Likewise, Smart Telecom Private Limited (STPL), whose coverage extends over 34 out of the 75 districts, posted a 17.72 percent growth in the data segment. The figure represents a big jump as STPL’s growth rate in the voice segment stood at just 5.16 percent during the same period. STPL’s data subscription rate indicates a strong growth in the data business in remote parts of the country.
Vaidya cited reasons like need to connect with family members residing in foreign lands, increased attraction among youths towards social media and penetration of smartphones, among others, for the growth in the data segment in rural Nepal.