Broadband internet extended to remote areas in 41 districtsOfficials say project will be completed in the remaining districts once the lockdown is lifted.
Broadband internet service has been extended to various remote areas in 41 districts using money from the Rural Telecommunication Development Fund, the Nepal Telecommunications Authority said.
The telecom regulator has been raising contributions from internet service providers for the fund for the last two decades as per the provision of the Telecommunications Act 1997. Internet service providers are required to chip in 2 percent of their annual profits to the fund.
More than Rs10 billion has been collected so far. The primary objective of the fund is to make telecommunication services accessible in remote areas. Broadband internet service is being provided to all local bodies including health institutions and community schools.
According to the authority, the rural telecommunication access project has been completed in 41 districts. The scheme will be completed in the remaining districts once the lockdown is lifted, said the authority.
Min Prasad Aryal, director of the Nepal Telecommunications Authority, said that work had been halted due to Covid-19 and the lockdown. No physical progress has been made in the past three months since the stay-home order was issued, he said.
Also, as per the agreement with the service providers, they are required to provide internet service to the general public on demand at the rate approved by the authority. Aryal said that the charge should be the same as in the Kathmandu Valley and no extra costs should be added.
Nepal Telecom Company broadband has completed broadband internet connection in Kabhre, Sindhupalchok, Rasuwa and Nuwakot.
Mercantile Communication has completed its connection in Dolakha, Ramechhap, Sindhuli, Okhaldhunga, Taplejung, Solukhumbu, Sankhuwasabha, Achham, Bajhang and Bajura.
Subisu Cable Net has completed installing broadband internet connection in Gorkha, Dhading, Makwanpur, Bara, Parsa, Rautahat, Sarlahi, Dhanusha, Saptari, Siraha and Mahottari.
Worldlink Communication has completed its work in Jajarkot, Kalikot, Rolpa, East Rukum, West Rukum, Dolpa, Humla, Jumla and Mugu.
Vianet Communication has installed broadband internet connection in Baitadi, Dadeldhura, Darchula and Doti while Tech Minds Network is installing broadband in Dailekh, Surkhet and Salyan.
The authority was supposed to provide broadband internet service in remote areas of all districts within a year, but it did not happen. Aryal said that natural calamities and difficulty of travel in hilly areas due to rough terrain delayed the project.
The authority has been working on two projects by utilising the fund—Information Highway Construction and Broadband Access Network Project.
Under the National Broadband Policy, the government plans to connect local units with wired and wireless broadband internet service.
The policy emphasises developing broadband infrastructure and expanding access to high-speed internet service in rural parts of the country.