February 22: In the last four years, Nepal Telecom (NT) has completed only 30 percent task of laying optical fiber in provinces 1, 2 and 3 along the Mid-Hill higway.
Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA) and (NT) had signed agreement in September 2016 to build fiber network in provinces 1, 2 and 3. Four years on, the progress of this project is very dismal. As per the agreement, NT should have completed the fiber project within two years, by 2018.
Nepal Telecom’s Spokesperson Rajesh Joshi informed that the project was delayed due to the lengthy legal process of Public Procurement Act. When the project was about to take pace, lockdown affected delivery of equipment, and we couldn’t mobilize human resources and equipment.
Dilliram Adhikari, managing director of NT, expressed commitment to complete this project within this fiscal year. But the progress report speaks otherwise. As per the data given by Nepal Telecommunication Authority, NT has completed laying fiber in 678 km out of 2179 km in the districts covering provinces 1, 2 and 3. NT should install high capacity dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) system in 26 areas and 48 core routers. As of now, 25 DWDM systems and 46 routershave been installed.
NT has also been assigned the task of laying fiber in Karnali and Sudurpaschim provinces. “The process of laying fiber in province 6 and 7 is still in process of bidding tender. We have finalized bidding of DWDM system and core router while tender process for underground optical fiber and microwave transmission is still in the process,” said Joshi
Initially, Smart Telecom was awarded with the contract to lay fiber in province 6 and 7. Since it couldn’t make any headway in the project, NTA later handed the project over to NT. For province 4 and 5, United Telecom Limited (UTL) had received the contract in April 2017. It also couldn’t make any progress and NTA refused to extend the deadline. The case is now pending at the Supreme Court.
The funds of Rural Telecommunication Development Fund is being utilized to develop these projects. These projects form backbone of Information Superhighway along the mid hill highway. This fiber project infrastructure will help boost broadband connectivity all across the country. To bring every local government offices, ward offices, community schools, health centres under broadband network, other 18 broadband projects are also underway.