Internet access to become costlier due to addition of service chargeService providers will be adding 13 percent to the bill as telecommunication service charge from Wednesday.
Internet user Vimla Thapa was annoyed when she found out that subscription charges would go up from Wednesday. “How can you hike the fee in the name of service charge when the service is very poor?”
Thapa, head of public relations at the MV Dugar Group, is a customer of Subisu Cablenet. “Why can't our government prioritise and fix the price of basic services that have an impact on daily life?” she fumed.
Internet service providers will be adding 13 percent to the internet bill as telecommunication service charge from Wednesday as per Nepal government policy.
Sabi Singh, CEO of Online Aushadhi, said the price hike would affect people doing small businesses. “This step by the government is a letdown for emerging entrepreneurs like us who run businesses with a small investment,” she said, adding that the increase would ultimately increase their office expenses. “Instead of improving the service quality and making internet access affordable to every citizen, the government and service providers are always coming up with extra charges and increasing the burden on customers,” she added.
Thapa and Singh reflect the opinions of many customers and entrepreneurs who have been affected by the decision to impose service charge.
A year ago, internet service providers had agreed, following a public outcry, to adjust the telecommunications service charge levied by the government in their costs and not pass it on to their customers if the government promised to discontinue the tax from the next fiscal year.
Now, customers have to pay 13 percent telecommunication service charge and 13 percent value added tax on top of their internet bill.
Bhoj Raj Bhatta, president of the Internet Service Providers’ Association, said that they were compelled to raise the cost this time as the government continued to impose the service charge. “The government failed to implement the agreement made with internet service providers last year which include revising the telecommunication regulation that exclude service charge,” he said.
He said that internet service providers had been paying the 13 percent telecommunication service charge to the government out of their pockets for a year, and they could not do so any more.
The National Broadband Policy and Telecommunication Act state that internet connections should be provided at an affordable price.
Recently, the Cabinet had allowed internet service providers to break down internet utility bills as agreed previously. They are permitted to bill their customers separately for broadband and equipment and maintenance.
With the new tariff that will come into effect from Wednesday, customers will be paying Rs1,680 monthly for broadband connectivity, 20 percent more than the prevailing charge of Rs1,400.
The government’s plan to bring down internet charges by 2018 in line with the Broadband Policy 2015 has not happened, and Nepal remains among the countries with the most expensive internet.
As per the Inclusive Internet Index 2019, “Nepal places near the bottom of Asian nations—4th last overall and last for Affordability with a global rank of 72nd out of 100. Nonetheless, it performs well relative to other low-income countries, ranking 1st for Availability and Readiness.”
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