4G in Nepal and its repercussions


With the introduction of Fourth generation (4G) mobile technology, tech-savy people in Nepal are very excited to use 4G in their mobile phone. Some have read it, some are still confused but there seems to be a situation of what works and what doesn’t?
Moreover, the surprising response has been well anticipated in social media page where people are more concerned about the standards and quality of the service.
The first step towards the soft launching has seen its response where a heightened level of awareness and capacity needs to be done. Let’s see the common understanding of 4G services and then try to understand the whole adaptation process of 4G in our technology ecosystem.

Technology in Nepal has always been an issue of concerned with the limitation of awareness and standards. Relative authority are least bothered about the conceptualization of user’s rights and behavior which has majorly resulted in bad services. There has been a very limited work done in terms of understanding what users’ behavior and needs.

In Nepal 4G data networks has been launched using the Long Term Evolution (LTE) Technology.

The basic need for 4G usage in your set are:

  1. Universal SIM (USIM) : USIM Card is a card commonly used in a GSM phone. The card holds a microchip that stores information and encrypts voice and data transmissions, making it extremely difficult to listen in on calls. The USIM card also stores data that identifies the caller to the Distribution Partner.
  2. 4G enabled mobile phone set: The mobile phone needs to be 4G enabled where it can be confirmed from the specification in the box or it can be checked in internet with the model number of the mobile phone
  3. Activation: Dial *444# and press 1 to activate and you will receive the message
  4. you need a post paid service

According to Nepal Telecommunication, “4G or LTE stands for a mobile communications standard intended to replace 3G, allowing wireless Internet access at a much higher speed. 4G and LTE (Long Term Evolution) are two common terms used for the same technology hence the terms are used interchangeably. As this technology allows for much higher speed than the previous technologies, the customer will feel better internet browsing experience. Now, videos can be streamed without interruption and at higher definition – and now video calls would be more enjoyable. The network will initially cover most parts of Kathmandu and Pokhara. Future expansion will make the network available throughout the country. Where 4G network is not available, you can still enjoy the data browsing using NT 3G and 2G networks. To use 4G/LTE service, your mobile device needs to support 4G/LTE and in case you have older version of SIM card, you will need to replace it with newer 4G enabled SIM(Universal SIM i.e. U-SIM).  Subscription to 4G/LTE service and configuring it in your handset is easy – in case of any confusion feel free to contact our customer care center. There is no service activation fee for 4G/LTE. And usages charges are the same as before – it’s not more expensive.”

The main difference between 3G and 4G services is speed. The 4G or LTE technology, simply brings broadband to your phone and it’s a one of basic difference.
Singapore, New Zealand and Hungary were ranked the top 3 fastest 4G services in the world where in 2012, India was among the first countries in the world to deploy 4G technology. 

According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) an agency of the United Nations (UN) purposed to coordinate telecommunication operations and services throughout the world,
“A 4G network requires a mobile device to be able to exchange data at 100 Mbit/sec. Specifications for the next step in mobile broadband wireless technology – International Mobile Telecommunication (IMT)-Advanced – were agreed by the ITU Radio communication Assembly in January 2012. With the completion of an intensive programme developed by ITU’s Radio communication Sector (ITU-R) to stimulate global development of the future IMT technologies and following a detailed evaluation against stringent technical and operational criteria, ITU has determined that LTE-Advanced and Wireless MAN-Advanced should be accorded the official designation of IMT-Advanced. IMT-Advanced systems include new capabilities that go beyond IMT-2000, widely deployed since 2000 and referred to as 3G mobile technology. While the term ‘4G’ remains undefined, ITU has now specified the standards for IMT-Advanced, the next step in global wireless broadband communications. IMT-Advanced provides comprehensive support for broadband wireless data and brings major improvements. These include increased spectrum efficiency to handle more users at higher data rates per radio channel; a fully packet-based architecture for reduced costs; lower latency leading to more responsive Internet and multimedia applications; improved radio resource management and control to enhance quality of service, and new capabilities for the radio interface such as wideband radio channels and multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) for the use of multiple antennas at both the transmitter and receiver end to improve communication performance.”

Challenges and hindrances of 4G in Nepal

  • Awareness of 4G concept
  • Awareness of mobile users’ rights and principles
  • Limitation of quality of service
  • Lack of monitoring mechanism
  • Lack of social integration of 4G
  • Lack of awareness of mobile governance in political leadership
  • Limited troubleshooting and knowledge
  • High expensive set

Though 4G has been introduced in Nepal but it faces reclusive issues of standards, cost, monitoring mechanism and acceptance. People still see internet as a prized commodity which needs to change. There has been few efforts done by Ncell and NTC with limited internet packages but let’s face it we still search for free and open wifi. The reality is there is a huge lack of awareness and capacity building which needs to be fulfilled by proper survey and research. The main question is who is responsible for doing this job. The regulator who is busy in lobby policy and introducing technology or the telecom organizations who are busy in cashing the revenue in the name of monopoly services.  The monopoly attitude of telecom industry and the lacking of monitoring mechanism by the regulators has certainly resulted in a limitation of use and cooperation of technology services. Standardization and quality of services is a huge hurdle which will certainly create problems in the days to come.

The world is moving towards mobile technology where the prices of internet and services are refining but in Nepal the prices are high and the services are questionable. There can be fastest service but it also needs to be standardized in terms of cost, rights and accessibility, so the priority is who wants to be responsible the regulator or the telecom organizations ?

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