Internet service reaches 58 percent of NepalisAround 58 percent of the country’s population has access to internet service compared to 16 percent five years ago as widespread availability of smartphones at affordable prices tears down digital barriers.
Around 58 percent of the country’s population has access to internet service compared to 16 percent five years ago as widespread availability of smartphones at affordable prices tears down digital barriers.
Subscription to data service has witnessed a significant surge in the past five years. According to the Management Information System (MIS) report released by the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA), data subscription soared 42.33 percent in the past five years.
Data penetration stood at 15.75 percent in March 2012. As of March 2017, penetration had reached 58.08 percent.
The voice segment too has posted strong growth rate with penetration reaching 123.9 percent as of mid-March. The figure stood at 58.66 percent in March 2012. The segment has witnessed a sharp growth of 65.24 percent in the past five years.
Both voice and data service have advanced at a rapid pace in the past decade, with data overtaking voice in December 2016. As per the MIS report, the data segment swelled 18.17 percent from the same period in the previous year.
Telecommunication experts predict that the market will maintain the pace in the upcoming years. As there is larger scope in the data segment, telecom service providers have started focusing on data in the recent past.
The trend is reflected in the expansion of the 4G network. Nepal Telecom (NT) began 4G service last January and another big player Ncell followed suit in June.
More than 550,000 customers had subscribed or upgraded to 4G by April-end. The service is currently available in Kathmandu and selected areas in Pokhara. Likewise, Ncell’s 4G network currently extends to Kathmandu, Nagarkot, Banepa and Dhulikhel.
The company has stated that it is planning to test the 4G network in 40 other cities in line with its scheme to provide the service to 15 percent of the country’s population by the end of 2017.
According to the NTA report, NT has 7.92 million data subscribers using GPRS, EDGE and WCDMA technology while Ncell has 6.73 million subscribers.
The data segment has been recording a steady rise with more Nepalis using social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter and communication platforms like Viber, Messenger, WhatsApp and WeChat, among others.
The ease with which family members residing in foreign lands can be contacted and growing penetration of smartphones in remote areas have driven the growth of data.
Telecom service providers say that Nepal has joined the global trend due to enhanced accessibility and affordability.
Meanwhile, in the voice segment, Ncell with 15.21 million subscribers elbowed out NT of the top spot last March. The venerable state-run company has 14.63 million subscribers.