5G trials set to begin in Kathmandu after TiharThe new fifth generation mobile technology delivers up to 100 times more capacity than its predecessor 4G, reports say.
The long-awaited 5G trials are set to begin in Kathmandu immediately after Tihar which ends on October 27, according to Nepal Telecom.
Tests of the new fifth generation mobile technology have been held up for 15 months. The necessary equipment has been installed in Kathmandu, the state-owned telecom giant said.
According to reports, 5G mobile network delivers up to 100 times more capacity than its predecessor 4G.
“The trials will start immediately after Tihar,” Shobhan Adhikari, spokesperson for Nepal Telecom, told the Post. After Kathmandu, tests will be conducted in all seven provinces, in one location each, in the current fiscal year.
According to Adhikari, 5G equipment is currently being installed in four places.
The 5G technology standard for cellular broadband networks offers faster connections, higher throughput and more capacity than 4G, and will benefit areas of high traffic such as public places.
According to telecom operators, 5G allows users to download movies and videos or larger files in seconds which currently takes minutes.
The government initiated the plan to launch a 5G network under its ambitious Digital Nepal Framework 2018 covering eight sectors—digital foundation, agriculture, health, education, urban infrastructure, energy, tourism and finance.
In June 2022, the World Bank approved $140 million for the Digital Nepal Acceleration Project to expand access to broadband and engage more people in the digital economy.
The project will improve access to high quality and affordable broadband services, especially for people and businesses in rural areas.
Initially, Nepal Telecom had planned to begin the trials in mid-July 2021, aiming to become the first in South Asia to roll out the 5G network. But changes in government hampered the progress, according to officials at Nepal Telecom.
The state-owned company remained headless for months from January this year.
The planned tests were further delayed as the imported equipment arrived late because Nepal Telecom took time to issue a purchase order.
Nepal Telecom received the spectrum allotment and trial permission from the regulator on November 22, 2021. It started working on the 5G trial preparation by forming a task force in mid-December.
“It took time for us to get the licence to import equipment for the 5G trial. It was also delayed due to the frequency allocation,” Adhikari said.
According to the Trial Working Procedure of the Nepal Telecommunications Authority, the 5G tests must be conducted in rural and urban areas.
The telecom operator cannot charge customers during the trial period. The test may last two-three months or even a year.
The telecom operator needs to provide technical details on a regular basis to the telecom regulator while the 5G tests are being conducted.
The service providers have to submit quarterly reports to the authority of the impact, problems, challenges, feedback and suggestions, and detailed information at the end of the test phase.
The spectrum is provided on a temporary basis for the trial, and the operator cannot hold it after the test period is completed as it is not fully authorised, according to the working procedure.
The telecom regulator has allocated 2600 MHz frequency band to Nepal Telecom to conduct the trials.
India recently launched 5G commercial service after completing the tests successfully. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the service on October 1 in New Delhi.
According to Indian media, the cumulative economic impact of 5G on India is estimated to reach $450 billion by 2035.
The 5G service is expected to unleash new economic opportunities and societal benefits, according to Nepal Telecom.
The company had signed an agreement with China’s Communication Service International to provide 5G equipment free of cost while it was bringing equipment for 4G.
Nepal Telecom launched 4G/LTE service in Kathmandu and Pokhara in January 2017.
“After the piloting is completed, the company will issue a global tender to buy equipment for 5G. A cost analysis will also be done at that time,” said Adhikari.
The operator must submit a report to the regulator after the trial is over; and based on the report, permission will be granted for commercial use, officials say.
After the cost analysis, the telecom company will determine the charges for 5G service.
Nepal saw the number of subscribers to the internet rise after the pandemic boosted the use of digital services for various purposes ranging from paying utility bills to making banking transactions.
According to the latest management and information report of the authority, there are 38.42 million broadband subscribers in Nepal.
The country has a total of 10 million 3G subscribers and 18.55 million 4G subscribers.
Total broadband penetration has reached 131.62 percent of the population, of which 98.46 percent are mobile broadband users and 32.82 percent are fixed broadband users.
As of mid-July, Nepal Telecom had 8.32 million 3G users and 11.2 million 4G users while Ncell had 2 million 3G users and 7.11 million 4G users.