Imports of telecom goods surge 42pcImports of telecommunications equipment and parts have surged in the first nine months of the fiscal year with major telecom companies introducing new technology and focusing on expanding services.
Imports of telecommunications equipment and parts have surged in the first nine months of the fiscal year with major telecom companies introducing new technology and focusing on expanding services.
According to the Trade and Export Promotion Centre (TEPC), imports were up 42.3 percent year-on-year. Telecommunications equipment and parts worth Rs22.88 billion had entered the country as of mid-April 2017, TEPC data shows.
During the same period of the previous fiscal year, shipments were valued at Rs16.08 billion. Imports totalled Rs23.72 billion in fiscal 2015-16.
A TEPC report states that most of the equipment imported by telecom service providers originated in China. Apart from these products, electrical equipment, machinery and spare parts and chemical fertilizers are imported in large quantities from the northern neighbour. China is Nepal’s second largest trading partner.
Telecom companies cited expansion of services and introduction of new technology for the sharp increase in imports.
Nepal Telecom (NT) launched fourth generation (4G) telecom service in Kathmandu and Pokhara in the beginning of 2017. It became the first telecommunication service provider to open 4G service in the country. The state-run company had to re-engineer its network and add infrastructure to launch 4G.
NT has been working to open 4G service in 15 major municipalities across the country. The company has stated that it is in the final stage of issuing a tender notice to procure the necessary equipment which indicates that the import volume will bloat further in the current fiscal year. According to NT’s joint spokesperson Prativa Vaidya, the company is preparing to add 79 BTS (base transceiver station) towers in order to improve services in Kathmandu. It also plans to add 25 BTS towers in Pokhara.
Likewise, Ncell, the second largest player in Nepal’s telecommunications sector, has been preparing to roll out 4G service in the near future after receiving the go-ahead recently. The Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) granted a permit to Smart Telecom this week to launch 4G service within its 1800 MHz frequency from July 30 under the technology neutral spectrum. This means one more company will be procuring equipment to introduce the new technology. NT and Ncell have been expanding their network and service in several parts of the country besides introducing new technology.
There are six telecommunications service providers in the country currently. NT and Ncell are the leaders with a combined 93 percent market share. The other companies—United Telecom, STM Telecom, Nepal Satellite Telecom and Smart Telecom—only operate in certain parts of the country.