Broadband internet users rise by 10 percentage points in one yearNepalis went online en masse after being forced to stay indoors due to the pandemic, officials said.
The number of broadband internet users in Nepal rose by 10.63 percentage points in the past year as Nepalis went online en masse after being forced to stay indoors by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Broadband subscriptions are expected to swell at a faster rate in the coming days as almost everything is moving to the internet, said the latest management information system (MIS) report released by the Nepal Telecommunications Authority.
Broadband penetration expanded from 72.16 percent of the population in mid-January 2020 to 82.79 percent in mid-Jan 2021, according to the report.
Min Prasad Aryal, director of the regulatory body, said the growth was a result of the initiatives launched by the government to promote information technology for socioeconomic growth like the information communication and technology policy, broadband policy and Digital Nepal policy. He added that the authority had prioritised expanding broadband coverage accordingly.
The government seeks to make greater use of the internet to improve governance and provide faster service to the citizens, Aryal said.
Broadband coverage in rural areas is being extended by utilising the rural telecommunication development fund and service providers are expanding their service in different places.
Aryal admitted that 4G service was not operating properly even in major cities. “We are allocating additional frequency for 4G to resolve the problem,” he told the Post. Internet service providers also need to update their networks, he added.
People are using the internet for education, health and services besides using it to connect to video sharing services like TikTok and other social media platforms for recreation and communication.
“As a result of the convergence trend, people are receiving varied services from a single platform, and the number of internet users has increased with more people turning to streaming television,” he added.
As of mid-January 2021, the total number of broadband subscribers in Nepal had reached 24.73 million, up from 21.29 million a year ago.
Nepal Telecom had 10.56 million internet subscribers as of mid-January 2020 which increased to 12.51 million in mid-January 2021.
During the same period, Ncell saw the number of internet subscribers dip from 6.66 million to 6.65 million.
The number of Smart Telecom internet subscribers rose to 257,453 from 219,708 in one year.
According to Aryal, international internet consumption has reached 780 Gbps (Gigabits per second) while local consumption is three times that. International internet consumption was around 500 Gbps a year ago.
With the growth in demand, both international and local bandwidth consumption has increased, he added.
According to the report, mobile broadband subscription had increased to 60.34 percent of the population as of mid-January 2021 from 55.30 percent last year.
Fixed broadband subscription also increased to 21.68 percent of the population from 16.10 percent. Nepal's population is estimated to be 29.87 million, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics.
Speedtest Global Index Ookla has ranked Nepal in the 96th position worldwide in terms of mobile data speed, with a download speed of 21.28 Mbps and upload speed of 13.07 Mbps. The global average is 46.94 Mbps download and 12.49 Mbps upload.
Nepal had ranked 127th a year ago in February 2020 with 12.74 Mbps download and 8.30 Mbps upload speeds.
With regard to fixed broadband, Nepal occupies the 114th position with 25.42 Mbps download and 23.90 Mbps upload speeds compared to the global average of 97.52 Mbps download speed and 51.79 Mbps upload speed.
Nepal plans to roll out 5G mobile internet by mid-July as it races to become the first country in South Asia to offer super fast connectivity.
The Radio Frequency Policy Determination Committee under the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology has decided to conduct a 5G trial for telecommunication service providers. The government has said that no charges should be collected from customers during the trial phase.
The authority is preparing the terms and conditions for the test, Aryal said. “Once the terms and conditions are prepared, Nepal Telecom will be permitted to conduct a 5G trial test,” he said. "The company needs to submit a report after the trial test before launching commercial usage."
The number of internet subscribers increased steeply after the government imposed a lockdown to control the spread of the coronavirus a year ago. Internet consumption rose sharply as people were confined to their homes and had to work remotely, take online classes, attend online meetings or webinars and spend their leisure time watching movies on the web or browsing social sites.
The number of online shoppers and digital payers also jumped amid the pandemic due to the need for contactless shopping and transactions.