Nepal placed 127th among 140 countries for internet speedMobile broadband download speed was recorded at 12.43 mbps against the global average of 31.95 mbps.
Nepal has 4G coverage in all 77 districts, but it ranks way down in speed tests, placing 127th among 140 countries in the Speedtest Global Index by Ookla, a broadband speed analysis company.
The US-based company said that in January, Nepal’s average mobile broadband download speed was recorded at 12.43 mbps against the global average of 31.95 mbps. In the same month last year, Nepal was ranked in the 124th position.
In South Asia, Nepal is ahead of India (placed 128th), Bangladesh (131) and Afghanistan (139) and trails behind Maldives (61), Sri Lanka (87) and Pakistan (118).
According to the report, the upload speed in Nepal was measured at 7.21 mbps compared to the global average of 11.32 mbps.
Min Prasad Aryal, director of the Nepal Telecommunications Authority, said that 4G coverage had reached all 77 districts, which means that high speed mobile data is now available across the country.
But consumer rights activists are not convinced by the authority’s claim.
Prem Lal Maharjan, president of the National Consumer Forum said that except in core areas, consumers are not being able to feel the difference between 3G and 4G. Similarly, the data charges are also comparatively high.
According to the latest management and information system report published by the authority, there are 4.79 million 4G users in the country, including subscribers of Nepal Telecom, Ncell and Smart Telecom.
Krishna Prasad Bhandari, deputy manager and spokesperson for state-owned Nepal Telecom, said that the company had started using advanced Long-Term Evolution (LTE) system in its recent 4G expansion programme, and had installed the technology in more than 2,000 places in four months. "It has definitely provided a better user experience compared to the old one," he claimed.
According to the Ookla report, the United Arab Emirates is the top performing country followed by South Korea and Qatar.
Nepal was placed in the 112th position among 176 countries in fixed broadband with an average speed of 21.05 mbps. The global average is 74.32 mbps. The country moved up four places in January compared to the October 2019 ranking, the report shows.
The fixed broadband upload speed was recorded at 19.80 mbps compared to the global average of 40.83 mbps.
Aryal said that aggressive expansion of optical fibre around the country by internet service providers was the major reason behind the improving quality. Expansion of the internet in most rural areas through the utilisation of the rural telecommunication development fund has increased the number of internet users in the country, he added.
In the fixed broadband category, Nepal is ahead of Maldives (135th), Bhutan (141), Pakistan (155) and Afghanistan (161) but trails behind India (66), Sri Lanka (91) and Bangladesh (103).
The Speedtest Global Index compares the internet speed data of mobile and fixed broadband globally. The site receives data from real-time users around the world after millions of tests.
Despite claims of improved speeds, people have been complaining that the internet in Nepal is too slow. Aryal said that consumer awareness could help users find out whether or not they are getting the kind of service specified in the agreement.
Many people have taken social media to complain over service not according to the agreement or high data charge in mobile, said Maharjan. But people have not come to complain in the Forum, he added. The Forum complained regarding the services a few years back to the authority but it did not show any concern, he said.
“As it is a technical thing, we cannot complain directly regarding this but if someone complains through us we can help in sorting the issue out,” he said.
“If the service does not improve after filing a complaint, the customer can complain to the authority which will take action against the company,” he said.
Internet penetration in Nepal has reached 71.52 percent of the population, with 15.33 percent of Nepalis using fixed broadband and 55.39 percent using mobile broadband, the authority said. Its latest report shows that a majority of the people are using the internet through mobile devices.
Similarly, the Nepal Telecommunications Authority is planning to make it compulsory for all internet service providers to provide Multi Router Traffic Grapher images showing the traffic load on a network to their customers.