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The process of amending the Telecommunications Act, which was started 18 years ago, is still in confusion

Commenting that the three-decade-old law has become toxic for the telecom sector

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Suryakumar Pudasaini, the former chairman of Nepal Telecommunication Authority, expressed his dismay at the fact that the amendment process of the Telecommunication Act, 053 had started almost two decades ago when he was in office. Pudasaini, who is also the second chairman of the authority, interpreted it as an irony that a law could not be amended for 18 years. He also commented that the three decades old law has become like poison for the telecommunication sector.

The process of amending the Telecommunications Act, which was started 18 years ago, is still in confusion

"Not amending the Telecommunications Act has become a poison for this sector," he said in a discussion program on Friday, "the old Act cannot address today's market, it should be amended as soon as possible and made suitable for the time". Telecommunication service providers and experts including Pudasaini also expressed their concern that the process of amending the Act was started two decades ago, saying that it would not be relevant in the era of new technology. On the occasion of World Telecommunication Day, the experts claimed that the authority is not only responsible for granting licenses but also for addressing the problems of service providers in the discussion program organized by the authority.

'It has been 18 years since the new law came, the draft has not gone from the ministry to the parliament, when will the law be passed?' He suggested that the law of Nepal, which was once considered progressive in the field of telecommunication, is now outdated and should be changed. He emphasized that new laws are indispensable to address issues such as taking 20 billion rupees each time for renewal fees, provision of separate auctions for licenses and frequencies by interpreting the holes in the existing law in their own way.

"There should be a system for giving licenses on the basis of income," he suggested, "There should be a system where whoever gets the spectrum through competition should be able to operate any service." If there is a provision for open licensing, revenue-based collection of fees, the telecommunication sector will rise.

Farhadul Parvez, an international expert in the field of telecommunication regulation, also pointed out that Nepal's telecommunication sector needs new laws. Parvez said that the old law cannot address the current situation. "Welcoming the latest technology, the government of Nepal should formulate innovation policy, clown policy, future spectrum policy," he said, "AI strategy, IOT regulation, regulatory concessions should also be arranged for the ICT sector". While doing all this, the concerns of consumers or users should also be taken into account.' He is the program officer of the Asia Pacific Telecommunication Community (APT), which was established as a joint initiative of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission and the International Telecommunication Union for the Asia Pacific region.

The 25-year license period of service providers including Mercantile and Worldlink Communications, the largest Internet service provider in Nepal, expired last March. It is not yet clear what will happen with the new license. Nepal Telecom received a new license for five years on May 28, the last day of the license period. However, for this too, the decision of the Council of Ministers had to be waited for. There is also confusion as to what will happen to the license of private sector telecommunication service provider Ncell after five years.

In the Telecommunications Act, 053, there is a provision that the duration of the license for telecommunication services is 25 years at most, for the first time it is 10 years and then every five years after that, it has to be renewed by paying a fee . But how much will be the renewal fee, how to issue a new license after 25 years and how much will be charged for that, have not been revealed. There is a complaint of the service providers who are confused due to this .

'It is not clear what the licensing regime will be, what to do, how long will we remain in this confusion?' Vislamani Upadhyay, Legal and Regulatory Officer (CLRO) of Ncell said, 'We knew long ago that such problems would occur. We sit and gossip in meetings/seminars . But we will not take initiative to solve the problem.' He demanded to amend the Telecommunications Act as soon as possible to solve the problem related to the license.

Bimal Acharya, manager of the government-owned Nepal Telecom Company Limited (Nepal Telecom), hoped that the new law would facilitate the creation of a competitive environment. "As fast as the private sector can move for procurement purposes, it is not possible for government agencies due to the Public Procurement Act," he said. We tend to be slower than private . This issue will be addressed by the new Telecommunications Act.

Rabindra Jha, a board member of the Regulatory Authority, claims that the Authority has done sufficient study on the new Act, and some regulations and directives have been drafted. Communication and Information Technology Minister Rekha Sharma also informed that the work of amending the Telecommunication Act is underway with a focus on infrastructure development while establishing good governance in the telecommunication sector. Earlier in 2007, there was opposition in the National Assembly meeting regarding the draft of the bill to amend the Telecommunications Act. Officials of the Ministry of Communications say that the Telecommunications Act could not be amended even after repeated attempts due to the fact that it is a subject that affects many sectors.

प्रकाशित : जेष्ठ ४, २०८१ २२:३७
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