Telecom authority to issue guideline for wireless routersThe regulator said low quality equipment could be one of the key reasons behind poor internet connections.
The Nepal Telecommunications Authority said it would be issuing a guideline for wireless routers suspecting they may be the reason behind poor internet connections, following a flurry of complaints from users that service quality fell short of international standards
The router is a piece of network hardware that connects a local network to the internet.
The telecommunication regulator said low quality or duplicate equipment could be one of the key reasons behind poor quality of connections.
Internet service providers concur that inferior routers have flooded the market, and type certification is necessary to stop the import of such low-grade devices.
Min Prasad Aryal, director of the authority, told the Post that as per the plan, the new guideline for wireless routers would be implemented within a month.
“The preparation of the draft guideline is in the final phase,” he said, adding that as the internet has become an essential service, complaints about its quality have proliferated. “This may be due to the low quality of routers,” Aryal said.
After the draft is ready, the board will approve the guideline. The authority will then direct internet service providers to implement it, said Aryal. “The authority will also conduct market inspection to check whether the routers sold in the stores meet the standards determined by the guideline.”
The router uses frequency signals which can impact the speed of the internet connection if the device is of low quality, Aryal said. The use of substandard terminal equipment also impacts the quality of internet service.
According to the Department of Customs, the value of router imports jumped by nearly 10-fold to Rs2.15 billion in the last fiscal year ended mid-July. Nepal imported 805,280 sets of routers in fiscal 2020-21 against 115,374 units in 2019-20.
The country buys most of its routers from China. The cost ranges from Rs2,900 to Rs4,200 apiece depending on quality. Nokia and Huawei are the most common brands in the domestic market, according to service providers.
Aryal said that the guideline for routers would also lay down the liability of internet service providers. It will define a clear role of internet companies while installing these wireless devices.
“Once the guideline goes into effect, customers will get a warranty on the router, including replacement and maintenance, among other facilities,” Aryal said. “The quality of internet connections should not be compromised due to the router.”
The guideline will protect customer rights as it will also address capacity, security issues and standard.
The standard will apply to routers that are sold in the market and which consumers install themselves, Aryal said. The authority will issue type approval of routers before they are imported to ensure quality and standards, the telecom regulator said.
Internet service providers said that the number of internet users had doubled, resulting in a massive import of routers.
According to the authority, 25 percent of Nepal’s total population of 30 million had subscribed to fixed broadband as of mid-July, compared to 17.74 percent a year earlier. There are 7.85 million fixed broadband subscribers, including wired and wireless networks.
Sudhir Parajuli, president of the Internet Service Providers’ Association of Nepal, said that they welcome the guideline which will help to get standard products in the market. “This will ultimately benefit customers,” said Parajuli, who is also the chairman of Subisu Cable Net.
“Among the complaints that we receive about our service, 20 percent have to do with router problems,” he said. “We hope the guideline will mitigate problems in internet services to some extent.”
Parajuli said that counterfeit routers were rampant in the market and they were difficult to tell apart from the original product. “But with the implementation of the guideline, which will require type certification before the import, duplicate products will be prevented from reaching the market.”