Nepal: Smart Telecom applies for unified license

Smart Telecom, a rural telecommunication service provider, has applied for unified license which will allow it to operate GSM mobile service across the country.

So far, the operator has been providing telecom service in the rural areas in four development regions only.

The government implemented unified licensing policy, which is also termed as Basic Telephone Service, allowing telecom operators to operate multiple services through a single license including fixed line, GSM service and international long distance calls, in May.

“We applied for the unified license because we plan to operate GSM service across the country,” said Subash Bajracharya, CEO of Smart Telecom.
Acting Chairman of Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA), Ananda Raj Khanal said, NTA will decide on the application only after verifying that the company has completed all its licensing condition.

Under its licensing condition, Smart Telecom was required to operate services in 398 unserved village development committees in four development regions before applying for the GSM license. Likewise, going by the new condition that NTA introduced later, it also needs to have BTS in each district where it is providing services.

“We had fulfilled the licensing condition in 2010, meaning we could have sought permission to operate GSM then as well. But we preferred to apply for the unified license only after we fulfilled the condition enforced later,” Bajracharya told Republica.

He further said the company applied for the unified license mainly because it will entitle the company to receive additional frequency and this would help it to expand the services in new areas.

Currently, Smart Telecom operates with 3 MHz frequency. If NTA responded positively to its application, it will get additional 3 MHz frequency.

“We feel the additional 3 MHz too might not be sufficient, but we have not yet taken any decision on additional frequency because of higher cost associated with it,” Bajracharya said.

The government recently unveiled frequency policy in which it has fixed the price of radio frequency.

Smart Telecom has become the second operator to approach the NTA for the unified license. United Telecom Limited (UTL), which has been operating mobile service through Limited Mobility Service (LMS) license, had applied for the license in October.

Under the unified license, the operator can operate different telecom services after paying a fee of Rs 357.50 million. As per the licensing condition, the operator will have pay Rs 20.13 billion as license renewal fee after 10 years and every five years after that.

Meanwhile, NTA has formed a committee to draft special guidelines for unified license. The committee is headed by Kumar Prasad Sharma, NTA director.

NTA officials said the authority will award the unified license based on the guidelines that the committee will prepare.